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How do I tell who to trust?
Here are some traits to consider about sources, especially when the sources provide information on controversial topics.
As the public considers arguments related to controversial topics, we would urge you to select sources that:
Have transparent funding sources and declare conflicting interests. Quality sources should be transparent, not only about their reporting practices (see above) but also about their ownership and funding.
Relevant, qualified persons carry out research or reporting. Who reviewed the research, and was the reviewer qualified? Does it make sense for the authors listed in a study to be those speaking about the subject area?
Produce repeatable, replicable, and reproducible research that has been repeated. Beware if the author doesn’t list academic sources. Unless the author is analyzing their data, their information came from somewhere. Always review the type of sources listed and make sure they stand up to scrutiny.
Group is not overtly partisan or advocating for a specific policy. Research from organizations run by partisans, a specific ideologically-driven group (this would not include things like Catholic or democratic1 research institutes that hire non-Catholics or that hire regardless of ideology), or a group for a specific policy position is often ideologically, not evidence, driven.
This may include even well-intentioned advocacy groups that sometimes have volunteers unaware they are spreading false or misleading information.
If someone rejects something because the source is biased, they should be able to demonstrate the biased behaviors of that source.
Issue corrections when they are wrong. Reputable sources are accountable for mistakes and correct them. Do you see evidence that this source corrects or clarifies errors?
Sources included in drafting this brief include Paperpile and Newslit.org