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Guide to the Nature of Information

Academic Information Cycle Graphic

Graphic illustrating the academic information cycle

Academic Information Cycle

Information from scholarly sources (like Academic Research) follows a similiar path as the general information cycle. For your assignment though, it's important to understand how an event, like a researcher's latest discovery, comes to the attention of the general public.

  • Researcher writes an article about her latest discovery.
  • She submits that article to a peer-review/scholarly journal.
  • This scholarly article is published.
  • The popular media (newspapers, magazines, websites) write stories about this discovery after it is published.
    • The institution for which the researcher works might even send out a press release to "advertise" the research to these sources.
    • Increasingly, the researcher or her colleagues may also choose to blog about the research in order to bring it to the attention of the public.

Publication Cycle

Another way of looking at the nature and organization of information is outlining the publication cycle, or how information goes from creation to textbooks. 

 1. Idea (emails, research journals)

A scholar/researcher starts with an idea of a subject or a topic she wants to study. The research might discuss the idea with colleagues through emails or phone conversations. They also may make notes in a personal research journal. Typically these information sources are not available to the public.

 2. Research (research notes, laboratory results)

This are the materials created during the research process, detailing evidence or results. This is the step where the new information is formally created.

 3. Conference Papers, Dissertations, or Thesis

Typically the research results are first presented in one of these three forms. Depending on the stage of their career, the research/scholar may present the findings at a conference, or use the research in a dissertation or thesis. Sometimes these may be available to the public.

 4. Scholarly Journal Articles

Around the same time as #3, a scholar/researcher may also submit their work to a scholarly journal for publication. Once published, the article is indexed and abstracted in various online databases. At this stage it begin to be used by other scholars/researchers in that field.

 5. Books (monographs or anthologies)

As the information is discussed by academia, then it may find its way into books. The scholarly article may be added to an anthology of work in the field, or it could be referenced in monographs on the topic.

 6. Reference or Textbooks

Once the information has been discussed and widely accepted, then it enters the standard literature of the field. At this point the information will be included in reference books (e.g. encyclopedias) or in textbooks.