Finding Credible Sources of Information

How to Find Accurate Information

How do I know which COVID-19 information sources are accurate?

It can be hard to know which sources of information you can trust. Before learning more about COVID-19 on the internet, check that the information comes from a credible source (e.g., federal or state agency, academic institution) and is updated on a regular basis. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and Purdue University offers information on Finding and Evaluating Resources1 and Evaluating Digital Resources2 to ensure the content you find is credible.

What about peer-reviewed articles?

Accurate information about COVID-19 may be found in peer-reviewed articles published in credible scholarly journals. Before formal publication in a scholarly journal, scientific and medical articles go through “peer review” for certification. To be certified by peer review, a study or article will first need to be evaluated by several subject matter experts. This helps find possible weaknesses in the study's assumptions, methods, and conclusions in an unbiased, independent, and critical way before it is formally published. Only articles that meet good scientific standards (e.g., acknowledge and build upon other work in the field, rely on logical reasoning and well-designed studies, back up claims with evidence3) are then accepted for formal publication.

Peer reviewed articles should not be confused with “preprints.” Because peer review and certification by a journal can take a long time, authors can make their manuscripts available as preprints for scientists to see, discuss, and comment on their findings. Therefore, preprints are not credible sources as they have not been finalized by authors, might contain errors, and report information that has not yet been accepted or endorsed in any way by the scientific or medical community.

The Art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively4 is a helpful resource for those looking for more in-depth support during the research process. See below for some examples of credible scholarly journals and resources that publish peer-reviewed articles.
 

What about sample size?

The sample size (the number of patients or other experimental units) is very important for getting statistically significant results and running a study successfully for quantitative research. Samples should not be too big or too small since both have limitations that can compromise the conclusions drawn from the studies. When reading an article, the reader should be on the alert to find out that the study they are reading was subjected to sample size calculation. In the absence of this calculation, the study's findings should be interpreted with caution since the researcher(s) may not have designed the study to consider the errors or limits of the sample size used.

 

Trusted and Dependable Resources

Agencies and Organizations

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) comprises medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the civilian population of the United States. The recommendations stand as public health guidance for safe use of vaccines and related biological products.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the leading professional membership organization for obstetrician-gynecologists. ACOG creates practice guidelines for providers and educational materials for patients. ACOG also offers practice management and career support, helps further programs and efforts aimed at improving women’s health, and advocates on behalf of members and patients.

American Medical Association (AMA) promotes the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.

American Public Health Association (APHA) champions the health of all people and all communities. They strengthen the public health profession and speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. APHA is the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community, and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public's health.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation’s health protection agency and a major operating component of the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety, and security threats—both foreign and in the U.S. Their critical science and health information protects the nation against dangerous health threats when these arise.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. Among many duties, FDA is in charge of protecting the public’s health by making sure human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices are safe, effective, and secure.

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) is a society of physicians and scientists who are devoted to advance pregnancy and perinatal outcomes.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the Nation’s medical research agency and is part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, responsible for international public health. WHO leads and supports global efforts to give everyone, everywhere, an equal chance to live a healthy life.

 

Scholarly Journals

The American Journal of Epidemiology is the oldest and one of the top epidemiologic journals that is devoted to the publication of empirical research findings, opinion pieces, and methodological developments in the field of epidemiologic research. Journals are peer-reviewed and aimed at both fellow epidemiologists and those who use epidemiologic data, including public health workers and clinicians.

The American Journal of Public Health publishes in-depth and current public health information that health organizations depend on for authoritative editorials, thought-provoking commentary, and timely health policy analysis.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) is one of the world’s oldest general medical journals and was the first major medical journal to launch a website. BMJ’s content is available in 14 different languages.

The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) is an international peer-reviewed general medical journal focused on promoting the science and art of medicine and the betterment of the public health. With more than 320,000 recipients of the print journal, 1.2 million recipients of electronic tables of contents and alerts, and over 20 million annual visits to the journal’s websites, JAMA is the most widely circulated medical journal in the world. In addition, JAMA is a member of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, cosponsors the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, is a member of the African Journal Partnership Project, and is partnered with the Malawi Medical Journal

The Lancet is an independent, international weekly general medical journal. Founded in 1823, The Lancet applies scientific knowledge to improve health and advance human progress. To provide a unique global reach and impact on health, The Lancet works with a global network of researchers, clinicians, industry professionals, policy makers, media outlets, patients, and the wider public. The Lancet ranks second among 169 general and internal medicine journals globally.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is recognized as the world’s leading medical journal and website. Published continuously for over 200 years, NEJM delivers high-quality, peer-reviewed research and interactive clinical content to physicians, educators, researchers, and the global medical community.