The information cycle provides some guidance about the reliability of information. We can make decisions about the trustworthiness of sources using what we know about how information is produced, including the speed of publication and who might be involved (or not involved) in that process. Different levels of effort and review are expended in the production of each source.
With this knowledge, we tend to view journal articles and books as more reliable or trustworthy than a social media post or newspaper article. However, scholars may value and use social media posts or newspaper articles for their research purposes. At times, you may also find these source types important for your own academic work.
The information cycle can also inform us about the availability of specific source types. For instance if I want to research a current event, I can’t expect to find a formal analysis of the current event in a journal article or the book literature. Not enough time has passed for this analysis to occur. If I am expected to use journal articles and books then this could be a frustrating and futile experience.
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Familiarity with the information cycle can help us identify both reliable and available sources for our research projects. Understanding how information is produced can inform us about the strengths and weaknesses of these source types for our research.
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