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COVID-19: Avoiding Misinformation and Conducting Credible Research

This guide intends to offer a bit of guidance on where to look for credible information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how to avoid misinformation where possible.

What IS COVID-19?

What is a coronavirus? What do we call this one? Who has the authority to establish a standardized terminology for conversation? It can be difficult to have a discussion about this pandemic, much less conduct related research, when one does not have a fundamental grasp of terminology. Who or what groups are even considered the authoritative voices in such instances? According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), the virus itself is noted as SARS-CoV-2, which causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In the aforementioned W.H.O. link, note that the disease was officially announced as COVID-19 by that organization on February 11th, 2020.

There is a lot of information regarding the pandemic prior to this February announcement, ranging from academic journals to popular news outlets, all of which offer valuable insight into, if not the pandemic itself, the phenomena chronicling how societies are dealing with this challenging era. It's reasonable, then, to consider that locating this information could prove to be a frustrating process. After all, how does one filter through political agenda, confirmation bias, and the concern that what you are viewing is fact, speculation, or purposefully misleading?

Myth busters series from the World Health Organization

sunshine covid

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

Data visualizations can be useful tools to gain a broader understanding of the impact of COVID-19, both locally and globally. Some tools might be more up to date and credible than others, and the same principles of information literacy apply. When in doubt, lean toward those published or hosted by government entities (federal entities such as CDC.gov, state entities such as the Alabama Department of Health), global entities such as the World Health Organization, or academic institutions. One such visualization, below, is maintained by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering. This tool allows the display of up-to-date information on case count, mortality, and recovery rate across the globe. Use such tools only when you can verify where they are getting their data, how they are getting it, and who the intended audience is...all of which you can ascertain from their website, linked above in the text. Being able to source your data and understand how it was collected will empower you to engage in evidence-based, data-driven, academic conversations.

To use the tool below, use the and options to zoom in or out of areas to get a closer look at data by country. Click on the viewer and drag the map to display an area you are interested in viewing.