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CMJ 103: Public Speaking & Information Literacy Guide

The Information Life Cycle

Researching a topic and preparing a speech are similar to listening to and being a part of an ongoing conversation on a topic. Different sources contribute different perspectives and come into play at different times and for different reasons.  For example, if you compare a series of tweets while an event was unfolding with a news article written a day later about the same event, you are likely to find that the article offers more details and perspectives than the tweets, while the tweets may show more emotional responses. This is part of the “information lifecycle,” as you will learn in the video below. Knowing where messages fall in the information lifecycle will help you determine the relevancy and uses of the sources you access.

 

Types of Information

The information life cycle highlights a range of materials you may come across in your research process, each of which is created with specific audiences in mind. Below is a summary of several types of resources you may find yourself consulting as you prepare your speeches.

News and Media

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Examples

New York Times

Bangor Daily News

Washington Post

Portland Press Herald

National Public Radio

CNN

 

Start your news search in Global Newsstream.

Current information

News stories, features

Opinion and commentary

Texts of speeches, interviews

Many have a regional focus

Photographs, infographics​

Usually no citations or reference list

Many stories written by journalists who often consult with experts

Connect to audience with stories or firsthand experiences

Links to original research or data that you can use to build your story and credibility with the audience

Images that may help tell a story and connect with audience

Diverse perspectives or points of view

Background information on your topic

Magazines

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Popular magazines - examples

National Geographic

Psychology Today

Rolling Stone

Entertainment Weekly

Focused toward the general public

Usually oriented to pleasure reading

Numerous ads, photos

Shorter articles

Broad overviews

Connect to audience with stories or firsthand experiences

Links to original research or data that you can use to build your story and credibility with the audience

Images that may help tell a story and connect with audience

Background information on your topic

Opinion magazines - examples

Nation

National Review

Mother Jones

Christianity Today

Educated audience, but not necessarily scholarly audience

Particular viewpoint

Commentary on politics and society

Book & movie reviews, interviews

Inclusion of diverse perspectives or points of view

Background information on your topic

 

 

Trade magazines - examples

Accounting Today

Advertising Age

Engineering & Technology

TEACH Magazine

 

Written for professionals or practitioners in specific occupations or trades (e.g., teachers, engineers, accountants)

Current trends and practices 

Product information and colorful ads 

Articles may have short reference lists, but references are usually few, if any

Often produced by a commercial or society publisher

Inclusion of professional approaches to an issue, or best practices in a field

Scholarly Journal Articles

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Examples

Art History

Communication Research

Journal of Biomedical Science 

Journal of Building Engineering

Journal of Pediatric Nursing

Political Geography

Novel: A Forum on Fiction

 

Start your search for scholarly articles in OneSearch, and limit results to peer reviewed articles.

Written by topic experts

Technical language of the field

Usually peer reviewed

Often nonprofit (few or no ads)

Charts, graphs, technical drawings

Often include reports of original research

Works cited, references

Sections on research methods, results, discussion, literature review

Original research and/or data that help tell a story of what scholars are attempting to understand, describe, or suggest about your topic. Oral citations might include phrases like, "Studies show... " or "Research suggests..."

In-depth information on your topic

Government Information

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Examples

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention site on marijuana and public health

Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development policy on domestic violence

U.S. Commission on Civil Right's 2017 report on human trafficking in Maine

U.S. Economic Development Administration 2017 report on Maine's forest-based economy

Current and historical information on a wide range of topics, in accessible language

Data, infographics

Often includes research reports and policy papers (these often include reference lists)

Original research and/or data that help tell a story of what scholars are attempting to understand, describe, or suggest about your topic. Oral citations might include phrases like, "Studies show... " or "Research suggests..."

Compiled research and/or data that help demonstrate a big picture view of your topic.

In-depth information on your topic

Books

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Examples

Popular Fiction: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Literary Fiction: Sing, Unburied Sing, by Jessmyn Ward

Popular Nonfiction: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Scholarly Nonfiction: The Ecology of the English Outlaw in Medieval Literature: From Fen to Greenwood Era by Sarah Harlan-Haughey

 
Start your search for books in URSUS, our library catalog, and limit results to books, audiobooks, and/or ebooks.

Long-read format, but content varies widely 

Nonfiction books provide in-depth analysis of a subject

Scholarly books are aimed at academic readers, often addressing advanced research

Not as current as articles or social media posts (longer time to publication)

Popular books are written for the general public and often aim to make complicated topics understandable

Background information on a topic. 

Scholarly books have chapters that are similar to journal articles, wherein authors present original research. These studies can be used just as you would use original research in a journal article to provide evidence to your audience.

Social Media

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Examples

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

Instagram

Blogs

Opinions, testimony

Scholars and organizations often share recent research on subjects related to their work

 

Firsthand experiences and opinions from the general public, or from notable figures, that you feel will illustrate a particular position on a topic.

Links to other, possibly relevant, resources and organizations. 

Research Starters - Background Information

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Item Types & Examples Characteristics Purpose(s) in Speech

Examples

General EncyclopediasEncyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia (great source to wrap your mind around a topic and gather ideas for issues you want to explore)

Subject Encyclopedias: Psychology & Behavioral HealthEncyclopedia of Energy

Issue Briefs and Overviews, like CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints

Start background research on trending topics in CQ Researcher or Opposing Viewpoints.

Good place for background information on a topic

Often written by a topic specialist

Often provides additional references

Great place to find keywords/related terminology that you could use in your database searches

Background information on your topic.

Test your Knowledge

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