FAQ

General

Q: What is MediaWell? 

A: MediaWell is a free service intended to make academic research on dis- and misinformation available to a wider audience. Our goal is to present the most relevant, most recent information in an easily digestible format. We focus on academic research, but also incorporate a variety of sources to present an overall picture of disinformation issues. 

Q: How do I use the site? 

A: First, try our “Getting Started” section here

All of our content is sorted into twelve Research Topics. We developed these categories with a team of experts in order to make the site more manageable. If you’re looking for a place to start, try Defining “Disinformation.”

Research Topics contain news articles, related events, and citations. Eventually, each one will have a Live Research Review outlining what we do and do not know about the topic.  

For information on a narrower topic — like Brazilian elections — try using the search function. 

If you need help, or have a suggestion to make the site easier to navigate, please feel free to contact us

Q: Why is most of this material in English? 

A: We recognize that these are global issues, and we very much hope to extend MediaWell into other languages. For now, it’s a question of organizational capacity. We want to include as much information as we can, however, especially in our Citation Library. We will gladly include non-English publications if they have an English abstract that we can evaluate. 

Q: What are Live Research Reviews? 

A: These reviews present an overview of a given research topic by pointing to select peer-reviewed articles, significant news reports, studies, and other findings in order to give readers an understanding of the nuances of a given topic and chart avenues for future investigation.

Q: What are Expert Reflections? 

A: Expert Reflections are submitted by members of the MediaWell Advisory Board, a diverse group of prominent researchers and scholars who guide the project’s approach. We have asked them to discuss recent research and make policy recommendations. The authors’ opinions are their own. They submit drafts to the MediaWell staff, and we offer feedback and suggestions, and make minor edits for style and clarity.  

Q: What do you mean by ‘citation’? 

A: Academics use the term ‘citation’ to describe other published information that they use to support their arguments, and demonstrate that they understand what other research has been done on a given subject. Generally, this means peer-reviewed journal articles and books, but it can also mean news articles, reports, or commentary. Professional ethics demand that authors cite the previously published material that informs their work.   

Types of Content 

Q: Where is all of this information coming from?

A: MediaWell draws on a variety of information sources, including peer-reviewed books and articles, conference papers, news articles, white papers and reports, and blog posts.

Q: What’s the difference? Why does it matter? 

A: Different kinds of publications have different standards for accuracy and accountability. 

Peer-reviewed academic books and journal articles are considered trustworthy because they have been submitted to numerous levels of review from other experts in the field.. Those reviewers make recommendations, and the journal or book editors will accept or reject the author’s submission. Even if accepted, editors will almost certainly require revisions in response to the reviewers’ comments. This process can take months or years, but helps ensure the validity and credibility of research. This is not to say that mistakes do not happen, but journals will issue corrections, and in very rare cases, retractions. 

A conference paper is a preliminary report of research findings. The norms for conference papers vary from discipline to discipline. In some fields, scholars use them to solicit feedback in an open forum, often months before they submit to journals, and many projects never make it beyond the conference paper stage. Other fields, particularly computer science, place a much greater emphasis on conference papers than journal articles, and assign them more prestige than journal publications.

Researchers have a strong reputational incentive to present accurate work in conference papers, but conference papers have typically not been reviewed by other experts in the same way as journal articles. 

For news articles, white papers, reports and blog posts, the credibility of the content is related to the reputation of the author or publisher, and vice versa. Reputation and credibility have both ethical and financial implications for many publishers, so reputable organizations strive for accuracy and correct their mistakes. Again, individual standards vary.

For these reasons, we try to indicate when our live research reviews are using content that has not been peer-reviewed. 

Q: How do I determine if a journal is peer-reviewed?  

A: It can be difficult to tell at first glance. Most journals will have an “about” or “information” section somewhere on their web page. If the journal is peer-reviewed, it will generally say so here. (Journals that are not peer-reviewed sometimes don’t say one way or another.)

If you have access to a university library, you may be able to use a service called Ulrichsweb, which will tell you if a journal is peer-reviewed. Otherwise, you may wish to consult a research librarian. 

Q: How can I access journal articles without having to pay for them? 

A: The best option is to access journals through a university library, or some large public libraries. You can also try preprint services like SSRN or arXiv.org, but the versions hosted on these services are not always the same as the final peer-reviewed, published articles. 

Editors-at-Large

Q: Who are Editors-at-Large? 

A: Editors-at-Large are members of the public who nominate content to appear on MediaWell. 

Q: How does it work? 

A: Editors-at-Large submit items using a PressForward bookmarklet. It looks like any other browser bookmark, but it opens a page that allows them to nominate content into our feed. 

Q: Can I become an Editor-at-Large?

A: Yes! Go here to sign up. 

Q: What kind of content are you looking for? 

A: We try to be as comprehensive as possible with our citations, events, and scholars. If you see something that we do not yet have on our calendar or in our database, please send it our way. 

We are a little more selective in our news content, and we don’t typically post breaking news content. If you see interesting analyses, reports, or op-eds, particularly about developments outside Europe and North America, please nominate those. 

Zotero

Q: What is Zotero? 

A: Zotero is free, open-source software for managing citations. Users can import citations from around the web using browser plugins, sort them into folders, and create bibliographies. 

Q: How do I use Zotero? 

A: The software is relatively intuitive, but we highly recommend reading the material here to get the most out of it. 

Please note that when entries are ingested from websites into Zotero, some errors can occur. We make every effort to correct these in the MediaWell library, but because of our volume of material, writers are strongly encouraged to double-check Zotero entries against the source when including them in a paper or bibliography. If you find an error, we invite you to submit a correction.

Q: How do I search the entire Zotero library? How do I search in a single research topic?

A: To search the entire library, make sure you have the folder “MediaWell Citations Library” selected in your browser or desktop Zotero client. To search within a single research topic, select that research topic.

Q: How do I submit my publications for inclusion?

A: The fastest way is to sign up to be one of our Editors-at-Large and submit your publications through the “Send to MediaWell” function.

Scholars Database

Q: I’m having trouble claiming my scholar profile.

A: Please email us for assistance.

Q: What are the criteria for inclusion as a scholar?

A: Currently, we include Ph.D.-level scholars at universities and research institutions who have recent publications related to our research topics. In addition, we include anyone who is the first author on a publication cited in our Live Research Reviews.

Q: I’m one of those! Why am I not included?

A: Please be patient as we catch up with the task of fully populating the database. If you are already an Editor-at-Large you are also welcome to submit your bio page on your institutional website through the “Send to MediaWell” function.

Q: I don’t want to be included in the scholars database.

A: We’ll remove you. Please email us. You should receive a response within three business days.

Q: What information do you store about me?

A: We store your name and your primary institutional affiliation, and these are searchable on the site. We also store your institutional email address, though this is not made public. Any information that you enter into your scholar profile we store and make public. You can view the SSRC’s privacy policy here. Additionally, we store information on your publications in our Citations Library. If you wish to see what information we have collected about you, or to request removal of your data, please email us.