Another difference in popular, professional, and scholarly sources lies in when information appears in these types of sources. Information about an event or issue appears in publications according to a predictable pattern known as the information timeline. Familiarity with the information timeline can help you best plan your research topics and where to search for information. For example, it typically takes several months to years for information about an event or issue to appear in scholarly publications. If you choose a topic that is very recent, you may have to rely more heavily on news media, popular magazines, and primary sources (such as interviews you conduct) for your research.
Table 3. The information timeline and typical sources.
|Time:||Day of event||Days later||Weeks later||Months later||Year(s) later|
|Sources||Television, radio, web||Newspapers, TV, radio, web||Popular and mass market magazines||Professional and scholarly journals||Scholarly journals, books, conference proceedings
Reference sources such as encyclopedias
|Type of information||General: who, what, where (usually not why)||Varies, some articles include analysis, statistics, photographs, editorials, opinions||Still in reporting stage, general, editorial, opinions, statistics, photographs
Usually no bibliography at this stage
|Research results, detailed and theoretical discussion
Bibliography available at this stage
|In-depth coverage of a topic, edited compilations of scholarly articles relating to a topic
General overview giving factual information
|Locating tools||Web search tools, social networks||Web search tools, newspaper and periodical databases||Web search tools, newspaper and periodical databases||General and subject-specific databases||Library catalog, general and subject-specific databases
Library reference collection