3 Easy Steps to Determine the Credibility of Fitness or Health Sources
So your favorite magazine or web-page just released another nifty article and you can’t wait to read it. Normally after reading you get so inspired and want to share the fruits of this labor with anyone you think could use it. It’s human to want to share and it’s fantastic that you’re so giving with the information, but what if the information you’re sharing isn’t credible would you still feel so liberal in sharing it?
Of course you wouldn’t share it, actually you’d feel awful. No one wants to be the bearer of false news. You’re just trying to do the right thing. You had faith in the resource you frequent because you believe if they’re publishing it for your reading pleasure it has to be credible, right? Unfortunately, these days it just doesn’t work this way.
There are hundreds of blogs, articles, pages, podcasts, TV programs, and more covering health and fitness information that’s outright unsubstantiated and hasn’t been proven. There is no scientific evidence to prove some of the claims being made or worse, the science is incomplete or they have chosen to report on a section of the research and forgo the whole study.
This sort of practice should be discouraged, but it goes unnoticed by the general public. You might have fallen into that trap. Your favorite magazine or resource could be explaining information that is false, scientifically unproven, or is based on experience and therefore may not work for everyone.
You’re a professional you don’t have time for all this nonsense so here are 3 steps to determine if your sources are credible.
1. Assess the source
Some sources are outright opinionated and have no credibility. Others lack objectivity, speak from their personal experience or are purposely designed with a particular stance in mind. Material posted on social media ranks among the most invalidated as anyone could easily create it with a particular spin in mind.
2. Locate the citations
A big red flag should be whether any research is used in the resource. If they’re making claims and aren’t sharing their sources anywhere there’s a good chance they aren’t credible. While some experts could speak openly about a topic, it’s best practice to cite research to back up the claims.
3. Check the research articles
So the source is reputable and they’ve cited their sources, but now you have to check those sources. Always consider these four questions: Who conducted the research, is the source of the research peer-reviewed, what date was the research conducted, and what are its conclusions?
Academic institutions, scholarly journals, government, and some organizations (e.g. The American Heart Association) stand as the most reputable sources. Some organizations outside of these could work, but be mindful that they might lean toward a certain stance and that promotes bias in terms of the findings. Always check your sources, check to see if they’ve mentioned where they received the information, and then check to see if that research is sound. Sometimes they’re citing sources and making claims, but the actual research study says otherwise.
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