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Information Literacy and the Research Process: Information Cycle

This guide was created to address the information literacy general education outcome.

Information Cycle

Step 1

Where does information come from?


When a newsworthy event takes place, information about the event will be communicated in various ways. Some of the information shared may not be accurate.

Who creates the information we view? Where does the information cycle begin? Where does it end?

We will learn more about different resource types in the next module, but one of the primary differences between the resources we use is the creator of the content. The content creator ultimately selects which information to include and which information to leave out when discussing a topic or an event.

Step 2

Information can come from anywhere!

Within minutes . . .
Information about the event begins to show up on social media sites. Stories from individuals who witnessed the event quickly get mixed in with second-hand accounts (e.g. my brother’s girlfriend’s cousin said...) and reports from news media.

Conflicting reports and outright falsehoods contribute to our understanding of the event. Information becomes increasingly unclear and overly biased. We have a broad understanding of the event, but specifics are limited.

Step 3

Information Can Change

The next day, news outlets begin to report the story with more detail. Newspaper articles and television broadcasts will feature interviews with authorities that have additional information about the event. Much of the inaccurate information shared when the story first broke will be discredited. The reliability of the information will increase; this will continue to increase as time passes.

In the weeks and months ahead, information will continue to change...

Journals Scholars begin to dissect all of the news reports about an event. Studies may be conducted about why such events occur. The event can be compared and contrasted with other, similar events from history. Articles and reports on the event begin popping up in academic journals.
Books Books may look at the event much like articles from academic journals, but often focus on a specific aspect of the event or compare the event with similar historic events. Specific individuals involved in the event could be singled out and have an entire volume dedicated to their perspective or experience.
Government Publications Government documents look to preserve data or information about the event for future generations. Congressional reports about major events or scientific data from research funded with government dollars are typical examples of government publications.


Ask A Librarian

Ask A Librarian

If you have any questions about the Research Process, using library resources, or completing these modules, please contact one of our Reference Librarians via the contact information below. You can always call a librarian at 260.638.VANN (8266). Librarians are also available through text at 260.222.5054.


Reference Librarians

Kerri Killion-Mueller, MLIS

Reference & Instruction Librarian

260.399.7700, ext. 6046

Amber Pavlina, MA, MLS

Reference & Instruction Librarian

260.399.7700, ext. 6067





Lee & Jim Vann Library

Pope John Paul II Center

First and Second Floor

Room 101 & 201