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CMCI 1010: Concepts & Creativity: Searching & Locating

CMCI Concepts & Creativity, CMCI1010

Information Life Cycle

We use the term information life cycle to describe the circulation of information and media coverage of a newsworthy event. Considering the information cycle can help you determine what kind of information you are likely to find about your topic.

See the example timeline of coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. 

The Day of an Event: Television & Social Media 

  • Quick description of the event
  • Tend to be short but regularly updated
  • Authors may be witnesses, public, journalists
  • Intended for general audiences

The Day After an Event: Newspapers

  • More descriptive reports of event
  • More robust photos, facts, quotes
  • Editorial coverage begins to appear
  • Authors tend to be journalists 
  • Intended for public audiences

The Week or Weeks After an Event: Weekly Popular Magazines and New Magazines

  • Long form journalism
  • Discussions of impact of event
  • May include interviews and analysis
  • Authors may be specialists, scholars, essayists, and journalists 
  • Intended for public audiences

Six Months to a Year or More After an Event: Academic, Scholarly Journals

  • Analysis, evaluation, theoretical, empirical research 
  • Authors are scholars and researchers
  • Material passes through peer-review process
  • Intended audiences are practitioners, scholars, students

A Year to Years After an Event: Books 

  • Synthesis and overview of event or broader theme
  • Scholarly books may include multiple authors 
  • Audiences range from public to academic audiences

A Year to Years After an Event: Government Reports

  • Reports from federal, state, and local governments
  • Authors include governmental panels, organizations, and committees
  • Often focused on public policy, legislation, and statistical analysis
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Recommended search tools

Finding Books

CU Libraries has both scholarly and popular books. Use the OneSearch box below, and the Prospector and WorldCat links to search for books.

Key considerations for determining if a book is scholarly or popular:

  • References/cited sources and research methodology: Does the book contain a list of references or research methods? A list of cited sources and/or a summary of the type and amount of research the author put into the book are indicators the book is scholarly. 
  • Author: Who wrote the book and what are his/her credentials? Scholarly materials are usually written by experts in the field they are writing in, such as a researcher with advanced degrees (M.S., Ph.D., etc.) or a professor. They may also work for organizations like a university or government. 
  • Purpose: What is the author's purpose in writing the book? Presenting new research and in-depth look at documents or artifacts are clues a book is scholarly.
  • Language: Is the book easy or hard to understand? Scholarly books tend to be for other people in the field, using technical terminology and jargon related to the discipline.
  • Publisher: What type of organization published the book? University presses (e.g. Oxford University Press and University Press of Colorado) and commercial publishers that specialize in academic publishing (e.g. Wiley and Springer)
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Pro Con Arguments

Think about the types of sources that report on current events and controversial topics.

For example:

  • popular magazines
  • newspapers
  • blogs
  • web sites

Think about how and where opinions are usually expressed in publications.

For example: 

  • editorials
  • commentaries
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • issue briefs

Don't use the words 'pro/con' when you search.

Instead, try search terms like:

  • analysis
  • opinion
  • commentary
  • public opinion
  • evaluation
  • surveys
  • political aspects
  • speech
  • opponents
  • opposition
  • proponents
  • debate
  • controversy
  • controversial
  • ethics
  • rights


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Combine Search Words

AND  link words by AND to search for all words in the same resource

OR  link words by OR to search for one word or another (instead of both/all words)

NOT  to eliminate results with a certain term

“Quotations” – add quotations to a group of two or more words to search for the exact phrase