THE WEB and online platforms are becoming increasingly important channels through which key scientific institutions and bodies communicate their findings, discoveries and knowledge.
But how do I know if the information I'm accessing is current, credible and reliable? What steps can I take to help assess the validity and suitability of the material?
Here are some simple tips for using social media as a source for health, medical and scientific information:
- Identify, follow and source credible individuals and respected institutions in the relevant field
- Use interesting posts, feeds or tweets to prompt more thorough investigation and research
- Verify the legitimacy of externally linked websites or landing pages
- Seek out and check references and citations where available
- Verify if the presented information is valid, relevant and correct
- If possible, look for any 'declarations of interest' in relation to who helped fund the production of the information
- Check the ‘currency’ of the material – what is the date of publication, is it the most recent version?
- Cross-check information against other authoritative and respected sources
- Assess the context in which the information is presented and received
- Always seek contextually specific professional advice where appropriate
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. And seeking out and accessing current, credible and purpose-specific information is never in itself enough.
To make sense of, evaluate and act well on important life imperatives and information will always demand far more from us all.