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SHB WF 100: First Year Writing

Erica Wiest

About this guide

This guide provides an introduction to information evaluation and research, and may help you explore library resources for WRITING FOUNDATIONS 100. On each page you will find useful guidance and sources that will help you meet the requirements of the course.

If you need help with library search tools and resources, just click on the Research Help tab. For other questions about your assignments, consult with your professor.

What is the format?

Information sources are available in a variety of formats each with their own intended audience, purpose, and publication timeline.   For example, the purpose of news formats is to provide up-to-the-date, or even up-to-the-hour, general reports of current events and information. This is a much different purpose from that of a scholarly report or article which provides in-depth analysis of a narrow topic or issue in a time-frame that is far removed from the original happening. 

The combination of information sources has been referred to as the "information cycle."  Understanding this cycle of information will help you identify what sources to look at in regard to a specific information need.

Remember, all formats of information can be found in print and digital media. The place (for example, a library or a computer) you find information does not define the type of source it is.

Information Cycle

Information Cycle:

The progression of coverage of a newsworthy event

The Day Of:

Social Media, TV, Radio, Web

  • Facebook
  • NPR
  • CNN
  • Twitter
  • ABCNews

The Week Of:

Newspapers, Web

  • New York Times
  • Salon
  • Green Bay Press-Gazette

The Week After:


  • Time
  • Newsweek
  • The Atlantic

Months After:

Academic Journals

  • Nature
  • The Journal of American History
  • Journal of Forensic Nursing

Year or More After:

Academic books, Government documents, Reference

  • Gender & Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics by Susan J. Carroll and Richard L. Fox
  • Federal Student Loans, Education Could Improve Direct Loan Program Customer Service and Oversight: Report to Congressional Requesters by United States Government Accountability Office
  • Climate Change: An Encyclopedia of Science, Society, and Solutions by Bruce E. Johansen

Example: 9/11

Let's take a look at the information cycle for the September 11th attacks against the US. For a research project, you collect a variety of sources published from the moment the attacks occurred to the present. The first few sources were produced the day of and may contain inaccuracies due to the limited amount of information available at the time. As time progresses, the reliability of the sources increases because facts can be verified and new facts can be discovered.

**Note: the timeline does not contain all of the sources related to 9/11 due to the vast quantity of information available.

Timeline: 9/11 Information Cycle

9/11/01: 8:36am

  • Terrorists attack US WTC


  • Live News:
    • Records 2nd plane crashing into WTC


  • Website:
    • CNN report on events


  • Bush Address:
    • Address to nation aired live


  • Newspaper:
    • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cover “Attacked”


  • Magazine:
    • Time cover shows towers burning

Spring 2002

  • Academic:
    • Article on racial profiling of Arabs post-9/11


  • Academic:
    • Article on psychological responses to 9/11


  • Academic Book:
    • Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after 9/11

July 2004

  • Government Report:
    • The 9/11 Commission Report


  • Website:
    • Washington Post: Remembering 9/11


  • Academic Book:
    • What Changed When Everything Changed


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