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Consider the Source: Examining Currency

Examining Currency

Currency can be tricky.  Depending on the topic and the research goal, copyright date may or may not be an adequate indicator of currency.  Consider the natural flow of information from the time that events happen to the time which they are published as general knowledge:

Breaking news, occuring within days and sometimes minutes of an event offers immediately information.  That information can provide valuable insight into personal experience and specific details. In many ways breaking news functions as a primary source of information.  

On the other hand, the farther the source is from an event, geographically or chronologically, the greater the opportunity for analysis. 

  • With the passage of time, the emotional reactions of individuals involved in an event diminish, eliminating some biases.
  • Information gathered and analyzed by individuals outside of the immediate community may be less susceptible to local influence.
  • As time goes by, additional facts are revealed and expert opinion is made available.

Documentaries, scholarly journals, and books, with months and sometimes years of research behind them, provide more complete but less current information.

Everyday individuals of various levels of expertise publish new information and new interpretations of information. At the same time, libraries, museums, and other organizations are digitizing existing information and making it available online. The open nature of publishing information to the web makes resources located here fall anywhere within the continuum of currency (and credibility). 

Ask...

Ask...

Current Events:

  • Are events still unfolding? Do facts remain unknown?
  • Were the human sources uses (often interviews) biased by their proximity to the event?

Historic Events:

  • Is analysis based on primary or secondary information?
  • Have new discoveries related to the event supplanted older analyses?

Scientific Data:

  • Are there recent developments on this topic?
  • Is recent data used?
  • Is there a current majority consensus in the scientific community or are there competing viewpoints held by a significant number of experts?

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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