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Current Issues, Hot Topics, & Controversies

Need sources for a current issue, hot topic, and controversial issue? Consult these resources, which include statistics and articles, that feature pros and cons about a variety of issues.

Strategies for Researching Current Events

Researching Current Events

While researching current events, it is important to keep in mind the cycle of information and how information is created. While it may be easy to find news articles and internet posts about a current event, do not expect to find scholarly journals or books about an event until long after the event itself (weeks, months, or years). The timeline below details the cycle of information so that you know what to expect when beginning your research.

What if I'm required to use scholarly journals or books?

Sometimes, research projects will require the topic to be current as well as requiring scholarly journals and books. This can be a challenge while researching, but this is a good time to consider the larger scope of your topic.

If your current event research is about a recent election, it's unlikely you will find authoritative books or journal articles about it. However, you will probably be able to find books or journal articles on previous elections that relate to your topic broadly. Use these resources to support your research and supplement news and online sources. 

Understanding News Sources

When researching current issues and hot topics, news and web sources are going to be the most easily accessed and commonly used. When using these sources, it's important to remember that some of the information may be changed or updated later. While news sources generally practice fact-checking, misinterpretations of headlines and other misinformation can spread quickly online. News stories posted later may be more accurate than those posted immediately following an event.

Information Life Cycle

"Information Life Cycle" refers to how information is produced and changes over time. The diagram below depicts the coverage of an event over time. Keep this in mind when searching for sources, as it might impact what types of sources are available on your topic.
This image depicts the information life cycle visually. It is described in the text below.

When a major event occurs (such as an election, speech, tragedy, or breaking news event), the information on that event will evolve:

  • The same day as the event, information will be posted to social media, internet news sources, and television news sources. Initial reports may later be corrected or updated with more nuanced information.
  • In the following days, fact-checked newspaper articles will be released, and pundits and experts may appear on talk shows. Facts will become more clear, and opinions will begin to form.
  • In the next few weeks, magazines and tabloids will publish editorial pieces on the event. These are less likely to be fact-checked, more likely to be opinion or human-interest related stories. Magazines may also publish long-form fact-checked stories, which will cover an event in depth.
  • In the next months, books and scholarly articles will be published. These take longer due to in-depth research, and the publishing process. Scholarly articles will undergo peer-review, which can take up to several months, and books will be reviewed by an editor. Do not expect to find scholarly articles on an event that has just occurred, but you may find scholarly articles on similar events or ideas.
  • In the following years, films (both fictional and documentaries) and encyclopedia articles will be produced. Encyclopedia articles are likely to be overviews or summaries from a retrospective point of view. Films may depict the event from a certain point of view, or attempt to summarize the event.

Watch the video below to follow the cycle!