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CONS 440: Sustainable Livelihoods

Finding News about Science

Primary literature in the sciences is usually geared towards professionals in the field and is filled with specialized jargon and characterized by very narrow specialization. Popular news about a topic (even more than secondary or tertiary literature) is often easier to understand and can provide context, ideas for paper topics, and an easier entry point into the research.

Finding Science News

Library Resources


How to Find Scholarly Literature Mentioned in Popular Sources

Whether popular or scholarly you always need to evaluate the information you find. See below and watch the video to discover some basic criteria for evaluation.

Any time you see a scientific claim in the news or a magazine, on social media, from a website like WebMD, or from a friend or relative, you should see if you can find actual scholarly evidence to back it up.

Once you've found scholarly articles linked to the popular claim, your job's not done! You still need to read the scientific article to see if actually says what the popular literature says it does, if it really supports the claim, if the study is peer-reviewed (vetted by experts in the field), well-designed and credible itself, and if you agree with the conclusions.

Lifehacker's How to Determine If A Controversial Statement Is Scientifically True offers some sage advice:

  • Avoid confirmation bias (looking for the answers you want without questioning conclusions, thinking critically and remaining skeptical)
  • Triangulate and verify information through other web and scholarly journal sources (don't believe a single site or study)
  • Ask a librarian!

Also see 15 ways to tell if that science news story is hogwash!