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#FridayFact: You Need to Be a Fact-Checker

#FridayFact: You Need to Be a Fact-Checker published on 14 Comments on #FridayFact: You Need to Be a Fact-Checker

Meme: Skeptic Cat demands proofTo avoid being accused of spreading untrue information, be a fact checker. When you write a document in the workplace, your first task is to compose the document; but before you send that project out to your readers, you need to do some fact checking to verify the ideas.

You know all about fact checking from the news. Fact checking isn’t just for political speeches however. In the same way that you will doublecheck your calculations in a budget, you need to confirm the facts and sources that you include in your report.

Read more about the importance of fact checking in the Medium post Three Important Reasons Why You Need to Fact Check Your Content, and then follow up by reading Five Tips for Fact Checking Your Content! Pay particular attention to Tip #3, which will result in different answers for every career field.

If you’d like to add a comment, focus on Tip #3, which will result in different answers for every career field. Tell us “what counts as a legitimate source” in your field, and why you believe it is legitimate. What about it makes it reliable?



I found the first article to be super informative because fact checking is important because reputations are on the line, once something is published the errors are out there, and “your brand deserves better”. The second article had five tips for fact checking. The third tip mentioned that depending on the organization/ career field you are a part of, the legitimate sources vary. I am part of the Civil Engineering field. For Civil Engineers I would say a source with reliable information is the American Society of Civl Engineers (ASCE) website. I am interested in going into roadway design so another reliable source is the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) standards.


The legitimate source in the food science industry include:,, and to name a few. Anything with the government or an organization will have accurate information that is worth citing. Also scientific journals can be legitimate if you researched the author and know they opinion is unbiased.

SItes that end in .gov are preferred in our discipline of food science. One of my classes only allows you to cite .gov websites, nothing else. This makes sense as a lot of the work we do is based off government guidelines and regulations.

Fact checking is a very relevant discussion to our society today with the shift of focus towards social media. With social media, practically anyone can make statements about anything/anyone without having to prove whether or not it is true. I think another reason fact-checking should be emphasized because it is possible to find yourself involved in a legal case with defamation (slander or libel) if you write or say something about an individual that holds him or her up to public ridicule, hatred, or contempt. A possible defense against defamation charges include if the truth, but if you fact-checked incorrectly and the statement you said or wrote was not true, you could potentially find yourself guilty of defamation and owe a lot of money.

I love the example they provide in the “Five Tips for Fact Checking Your Content!” about the quote from Nelson Mandela. It seems like a viable thing that he would say, but maybe it was said by someone else, or it was paraphrased, and someone cited Mandela in order to gain more credibility. Even though most of the time I see this on Facebook posts, sometimes there are quotes at the beginning of novels, that perhaps should be fact checked. I also agree with this article, and use Wikipedia as a starting source, and look at the sources that are provided to fact check and get more reliable sources.

In chemical engineering, many scientific journals will be used, as well as manuals and tables and charts that have previously been created. Most of the writing that comes in chemical engineering however, will be technical reports that will need to be verified by previous experiments.

For Computer Science, the tl;dr is that there aren’t trusted sources for anything. The truth is that places like Stack Overflow are starting to become “de facto documentation” for all knowledge in programming (it’s quoted over and over on Meta Stack Overflow). The only thing trumping the authoritative quantity of Stack Overflow Q&A articles is the littered official documentation for countless separate tools. And that’s part of the problem: Computer Science is growing to be so large that it might soon split into separate fields. Take web development as an example—we might consider the proprietary documentation for Android development to be the trusted source in that sub-field over anything else. For plain Java programming, the first choice might instead be a textbook rather than the Java documentation that Oracle provides (it’s more of a personal preference in that particular example). The main source that ties together topics in CS is in fact Stack Overflow in that they specifically address developers’ questions with answers from someone else who has the know-how in that area. Moreover, credibility is reinforced through “reputation” so those searching for an answer or a fact-check can quickly gauge what the truth most closely is.

I thought that the first article was very relevant to what is going on today as our society is constantly exposed to so much information on social media and everywhere around us. It also related to the importance of fact-checking to preserve your professional reputation and your company or profession’s reputation. One legitimate source that has many journal publications and professional manuals is the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Other regulations and statistics for different subdisciplines in civil engineering come from national or state departments. For example, the VA Department of Health regulates drinking water quality and the Department of Environmental Quality regulates sanitary sewer systems in Virginia.

I think that fact checking is very important in today’s world. There’s so many sources for such a variety of information which makes it important for one to be able to back up their facts. In the geography/cartography field, most of the information and data you would use would come from either federal, state, or local governments. In my classes we often work with census data, data from the USDA, or data from the national land cover database (NLCD). But it’s important to always cite these data sources for any work that is done with them.

An important feature of critical thinking is challenging what is “accepted.” Fact checking is a big component of this and therefore we should practice this before graduating into the real world. I also know how embarrassing it is to be proven wrong so to avoid such situations, its always wise to verify your source of information. I usually only cite peer reviewed sources because I know I cannot be refuted if I am backed up by research data. Any source on NCIB, NIH, PUBMED, the FDA, or USDA are acceptable in my eyes. I also agree with the article about wikipedia, I typically start searched there. I typically only rely on these types of sources but occasionally I will use Forbes or equivalent news sources. If I dont use them I try to find another source that backs up what they are saying. If it is something that isn’t that “believable” I always error on the side of caution though.

Fact checking is paramount when doing research. If you do not check your facts, you may spread incorrect information which could potentially hurt your reputation, your company’s reputation, or even a future researcher using your work. In Civil Engineering some reliable sources are the American Society of Civil Engineers, United States Geological Survey, and Virginia Department of Transportation. All of these are reliable sources in the profession. USGS would be used more for water resources work, while VDOT would be used for transportation work.

In the field of engineering, is a very reliable source. Not only because it is an organizational website but because it is managed by the civil engineering community. I have always started my researches with Wikipedia. Though it isn’t very trustworthy, it provides reliable sources just like Tip #3 states.

As an engineer, I need to be responsible for every content in my project. For example, in a research report, I need double check if the calculation is correct. Meanwhile, I need include all of the citations correctly. Sometimes I don’t pay attention to it because I think I can change it again after I publish, and I have never published reports by myself, so I don’t have some experience with it.
This article is an alert for me.

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