Finding the Pearls of Wisdom in a Sea of Scientific Misinformation

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Image Source: MLML WordPress

Trying to navigate the murky waters of credible marine science can leave knowledge-seekers feeling lost at sea. Like a beacon of light guiding seafarers, scientists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) have been discussing their best on-line sources for accurate information. Those recommendations have now been compiled into three groups of credible marine science sources with the following social media abbreviations: Instagram (IG), Facebook (FB), YouTube (YT) & Twitter (TW):

1) MLML: We’re starting things off with a comprehensive list of all our sources.

From lab webpages to MLMLers on social media, these links shed light onto the inner workings of science as it unfolds. Principle sources are in bold with any related sub-links below them.

MLML Main Page Phycology Lab
     MLML-FB Biological Oceanography Lab
     @mosslandingmarinelabs- IG Geological Oceanography Lab
     MLML- LinkedIn      MLMLGeoOce-YT
     @MLMLmarinesci-TW      Microcosms by the SEM class
     The Drop-In by MLML students Chemical Oceanography Lab
     MLML 50th Anniversary Blog Physical Oceanography Lab
     The WAVE magazine- Friends of MLML      @drewski1003 student Drew Burrier-IG
     MLML -YT      @tompc35 Dr. Tom Connolly- TW
Vertebrate Ecology Lab Invertebrate Zoology Lab
     @akstimp Dr. Alison Stimpert-TW Benthic Lab
     @sha.hsu student Sharon Hsu-IG MLML-MBARI Research Library
Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory Environmental Biotechnology Lab
Ichthyology Lab Central Coast Wetlands Group (CCWG)
Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) Dr. Collen Durkin’s Lab- plankton
     PSRC-FB      @ca_durkin Dr. Colleen Durkin-Tw
     @VickyV_TeamORF student Vicky Vásquez-TW      Durkin Lab Blog
     @pauljclerkin student Paul Clerkin-FB MLML Diving Program
Marine Optical BuoY (MOBY) at MLML Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab
Science Learning & Exploration With The Help of Sea Lions (SLEWTHS)      California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP)- FB
     SLEWTHS- FB      CCFRP- YT
drew-burrier-pacific-grove
Photo Source: Physical Oceanography graduate student, Drew Burrier. Instagram account @drewski1003

2) Scientific Journals: The following is a list of scientific journals focused on or related to marine science that have published many MLML scientists.

Marine science journals are a great resource, yet not all journals use a rigorous peer reviewed process. Examination by other experts ensures the scientific validity of a study and decreases the likelihood of errors being published. Nevertheless, it’s important for readers to realize that a paper published in these journals may still be a matter of debate in the scientific community. This is because papers usually serve as one piece of the puzzle. More so, if the conclusions of a paper are deemed controversial or doubtful by other scientists, the opposing scientists may issue a rebuttal.The scientific community therefore makes a consensus on a particular subject matter based on the collective work from several studies by many scientists.  As a result of this meticulous process, it can take many years for the scientific community to reach a consensus on a particular subject.  Nevertheless, during this process not all journals are inclined to issue rebuttals for studies published through their journal. In addition, the reputation of a journal can change overtime in either direction. Consequently, when looking through scientific papers here are few things to look out for:

  • What journal did they publish in?
    • Is that journal peer-reviewed?
    • Does that journal publish rebuttals?
  • Have the authors published on this topic before?
  • If relevant, what was the sample size of the study?
  • Are the study’s conclusions to scale with the scope of the study?
    • For example, if a study conducted field experiments in the summer, is it reasonable for them to make conclusions about the entire year?
  • If you have access, perhaps ask a professor working on that subject for their opinion.
 Journal of Fish Biology Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Marine Chemistry Biology Letters
Ecology Letters Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB)
Oecologia Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences
PLoS Biology Trends in Ecology & Evolution (TREE)
PLoS One Marine Biology
Current Biology Behavioral Ecology Sociobiology
Animal Behavior Endangered Species Research (ESR)
Conservation Biology Marina Mammal Science (MMS)
Journal of Animal Ecology Fisheries Oceanography
Functional Ecology Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA)
Ecology JASA Express Letters (previously ARLO)
Conservation Letters Canadian Journal of Zoology
Bioacoustics Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS)
Behaviour Journal of Aquatic Mammals
American Naturalist Journal of Animal Biotelemetry
Journal of Ecology Zootaxa
Journal of Phycology Marine & Freshwater Research
Shark References* Catalog of Fishes*

*These are not scientific journals, but instead serve as search engines for published work.

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Photo Source: Journal of Phycology. Research faculty member, Dr. Colleen Durkin, was lead author on the third article included in this cover photo, “Evolution of silicon transport proteins in diatoms,”

3) Social Media: These outlets can be an entertaining approach to translating complex science topics for a wider audience.

For breathtaking images of the deep sea, adorable animal videos and a breakdown of today’s marine science issues, take a look at the links below. The recommendations include marine science blogs, news sources & similar outlets. Similar to the concerns with scientific journals, people seeking the most accurate information should always consider where the information is coming from.

Science Blogs & Vlogs (video blogs) Marine Science News & Information Instagram (IG), Twitter (TW), Facebook (FB)
DeepSea News Yale Environment 360 @MBARI_news -IG
MARINE-blog IUCN Red List News @the_microscopist -IG
The Echinoblog by Dr. Chris Mah MBARI @underwater_world_ -IG
Marine Exploration by Dr. Luiz Rocha Explore Science- Cal Acad @bbcearth -IG
AGU Blogosphere a network of Earth & space science blogs Dulvy Lab- Marine Biodiversity & Conservation @uscg -IG
Elkhorn Slough Foundation -YT Sharks Advocates International @simonjpierce -IG
Science Today- Cal Academy Chondrichthyan Tree of Life @sanctuaries NOAA -TW
KQED Deep Look Center for Ocean Solutions @oceanexplorer NOAA -TW
Microdocs- by Dr. Steve Palumbi @WSN_Secretariat WSN -TW @COS_MARINE -TW
The Natural History of Bodega Head by Jackie Sones The American Association for the Advancement of Science -FB @HopkinsMarineStation -FB
Category 6 WunderBlog by Jeff Masters Science Magazine @CASeaGrant -FB
Real Climate- by climate scientists Eos @CASIchthyology -FB
Schmidt Ocean Institute- cruise updates Science Daily @CSUCOAST -FB

 

katie-lage

Katie Lage MLML/MBARI research librarian.

A Note from our Research Librarian

Navigating through credible and dubious marine science sources is an ongoing challenge. In addition to the MLML community’s recommended sources, we’ve also enlisted the help of Katie Lage, MLML/MBARI’s research librarian for some advice. From Ms. Lage:

Whether you’re looking for current news or academic articles for your thesis, it’s important to evaluate your sources.

So how can you tell if a website is credible or is delivering accurate information? Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you read:

  • Who wrote the article?
    • What are the author’s or the organization’s qualifications or domain expertise?
  • What is the purpose of the website?
    • Explore the content of the website. Is there a mission statement or About page?
    • Is the content mostly subjective (biased or opinionated), objective (factual), or mixed?
  • How current is the information?
    • Can you tell when it was last updated or when an article was written? Are there broken links?

A credible source should clearly state authorship and qualifications and present factual material.

Finding Scholarly Articles

What’s the best way to find scholarly articles? The MLML/MBARI Research Library! Scopus is a good place to start. Scopus indexes over 21,500 peer reviewed articles in the sciences, technology, and other disciplines and includes links to full text. You can find the link to Scopus and more important databases from our home page, https://library.mlml.calstate.edu/.

Need help finding or evaluating library resources? Contact the MLML librarian, Katie. klage@mlml.calstate.edu

Special thanks to the MLML community for providing their recommendations on credible marine science sources.

sharons-photo-of-bahia-de-los-angeles

Photo Credit: Vertebrate Ecology graduate student, Sharon Hsu. Instagram account @Sha.Hsu.

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About Vicky Vásquez

As a graduate student through the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC), I study shark behavior and ecology. I share my expanding research knowledge and engage other in marine science through my role as the Founding Deputy Director of the Ocean Research Foundation (ORF).
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