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Think Like a Researcher: Instruction Resources: #8 Understanding the Information Cycle

Teaching Research And Information Literacy (TRAIL) Curriculum Resources for Writing 10


Originally in the TRAIL curriculum, we used the Knowledge Cycle module from the Research Process Tutorial (RPT) series.  Note: This series was retired in Dec. 2020. This has since been replaced with a new module titled Understanding the Information Cycle.


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Course Learning Outcome:  Demonstrate information literacy and be able to work with evidence

Goal:  Increase students’ awareness of the speed of publishing behind different sources

Specifically, students will be able to

  • recognize the speed and oversight with which source types are created.
  • recognize the benefits and limitations of source types in the information cycle. 
  • identify the impact of information production on source-type reliability and availability.

Lesson: Understanding the Knowledge Cycle


1. Use the Understanding the Information Cycle module from the Starting Your Research Series.

2. Assign individually or do together in class.

3. You may wish to follow the tutorial with a discussion about the challenges some students may have with finding scholarly information depending on their research question.  This can lead to a broader discussion about available sources.

Research Journal

Understanding the Information Cycle

Answer the following questions based on what you learned by completing the Understanding the Information Cycle Tutorial.

  • What kind of information sources might you find if you were researching the events of September 11, 2001?
  • How would those sources differ from what you might find if you were researching the events of  January 6, 2021 at Capitol Hill?