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Neuroscience - CLA

Information Literacy in Neuroscience

Trust and reliability are foundational to research scholarship.

  • Choosing selective search tools can help you narrow the danger of you encountering dubious claims.
  • Following citation chains is another way of finding sources other researchers rely on. See the guide for Citation Chasing.

A major distinction in the area of Information Literacy is the difference between misinformation and disinformation. (See Muhammed T, S., & Mathew, S. K. (2022). The disaster of misinformation: A review of research in social media. International Journal of Data Science and Analytics, 13(4), 271–285.

If a claim is stated or made without a source or a citation, it has the potential of being either misinformation or disinformation.

The difference hinges on intent. Misinformation is wrong information passed along with no intention to mislead. Misinformation if it is caught and corrected can lead to the growth of knowledge. But it can be hard to free yourself from misinformation if it fits what you want to see (See Ecker, U.K.H., Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J. et al. The psychological drivers of misinformation belief and its resistance to correction. Nat Rev Psychol 1, 13–29 (2022).

Lateral reading - which means checking sources (citation chasing) for their credibility can help. Also keep asking yourself why you believe or want to believe statements and conclusions.

Disinformation is intentional and most often creeps into psychological research in the form of data fabrication.

Published research articles can be wrong in their conclusions without intent. Because of the peer review process, disinformation is less common in published academic scholarship. But it still does happen with falsified research and can be hard to detect. The site Retraction Watch keeps track of sources that have been identified as problematic. If you are basing your claims on one or a few key research papers, it is a good idea to see if they are suspect.

For a psychological research approach to information literacy, see the journal article in Current Directions in Psychological Science Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens and/or a friendlier introduction to it in the NiemanLab article What’s the best way to deal with a flood of misinformation? Maybe it’s time for some deliberate ignorance

The Temple Library tutorial How to SIFT through Misinformation reviews general best practices