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Types of Information Sources:

The Information Cycle is the progression of media coverage of a newsworthy event. It refers to how information is produced and distributed over time. Understanding the Information Cycle will help you determine what types of sources may be available for your research topic. Information comes from different sources including: 

  • Social media (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)

  • Mainstream Media (TV news, Internet news, etc)

  • Popular Magazines

  • Scholarly Journals

  • Books

When researching a topic, you need to investigate a variety of sources to gather enough information. 

the information cycle infographic


How to Know When to Cite:

Citing Sources

When you quote or paraphrase the idea of another person in your research paper, you must provide a proper citation.

Proper citations:

  • give credit to the author
  • enable others to locate the resource you cited
  • improve the credibility of your work, especially if you cited authoritative sources

If you use other people's ideas without properly giving them credit, you are committing plagiarism, which is a serious NSU honor code violation as well as a federal crime.

Citation Styles:

The format of a proper citation depends upon the citation style being used.  Most commonly, students are required to use APA or MLA.  

For consistency, both of these styles provide specific standards for:

  • citing within the body of a paper (in text)
  • a bibliography or reference list at the end of a paper

Other Resources

TRAAP Test (Visual)

It is easy to find a lot of information about a lot of things on the internet, but it isn't always trustworthy or suited to completing a research paper. It is important to critically evaluate all the information you find before you decide to use it.

The TRAAP Test below is a list of questions that you can ask yourself to help you determine if information is reliable and appropriate for your assignments.


The TRAAP Test is modified from The CRAAP Test, created by Sarah Blakeslee and the librarians at California State University's Meriam Library in 2004.

Trap Test (text based)

Evaluating Information Using the TRAAP Test

These are questions you can ask yourself to determine if information is reliable and appropriate for your assignments.

  • When was it published?
  • Does its age affect its accuracy?
  • Is there a more recent version that supports or refutes it?
  • Are links functional?
  • Who was it written for?
  • Is it pitched to a scholarly audience?
  • Have you looked at several similar sources before selecting this one?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Is the author/publisher/sponsor identified?
  • Can their credentials be verified?
  • Has it been cited in other research?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Can it be verified by other sources?
  • Does it contain sufficient evidence to back it up?
  • Is it peer-reviewed?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Why was it created?
  • Is it selling you something or trying to persuade you?
  • Does it have political, religious, institutional, or personal bias?
  • Is it objective and impartial?