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dennirawr t1_jdueqyx wrote

When it comes to finding good evidence-based information, books are best seen as starting points to provide you with a broad overview of a topic, so that you can then dive into academic journal articles about those elements of a topic that are most relevant for you or you are most interested in.

Generally, books by somebody who knows what they are talking about will be factual, and free from opinion, and statements will be supported in some way with scientific evidence / references. They will also be free from personal anecdotes and 'anecdotal evidence' (ie "after he used this miracle food, the diversity of her gut microbiota seems to have increased exponentially, so this food is fantastic" is not good data). Much like good journalism, you want a book that presents you with data in a structured and easy to understand way, but you don't want to waste your time reading about some person's 'opinion'. You can get an idea of what I mean by reading a couple of articles from your local newspaper, compared to a better news source like, say, The Guardian, where facts tend to be presented without the author's subjective view or interpretation.

My approach would be to find out which universities are well known for exceptional research or training in the field you'd like to learn about, then find the reading lists for relevant subjects at that university. Or you might write to a lecturer or two and ask for their recommendations. That should give you a starting point.

You can also search for books written by professors associated with a well-respected uni, and decide which of those you feel are most authoritative to write about a given topic.

Keep in mind though that all books, by their nature, will contain 'old' information. It takes time for a book to be written, edited and published. By the time it is available, there is a very good chance that some information it contains will be outdated - maybe improved upon, no longer 'best practice', proven to be false, etc. So, books are great resources, but limited in their usefulness depending on what level of knowledge you're looking to gain.

Academic journals can be more accurate and contain much more recent information than books. Google Scholar is a fantastic resource for finding journal articles. You'll still need to work out which articles are great and which are rubbish, but you won't need to deal with as much pop pseudo-science and quackery as you'll find at your local bookstore. And, you'll find more recent information with greater specificity. If an article is not available for free, email the author and ask if they would email it to you - most will be happy to.

Happy learning!


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jduig2q wrote

Thank you, helpful response! Tbh journal articles sort of scare me they’re just very difficult to understand and I mean since most commonly they contain some sort of study that was conducted it’s like a very very specific niche thing you get out of it + looking at a single study may be too one-sided even if it’s a peer-reviewed and methodically properly conducted one.. you’d probably rather look at meta-analyses of studies but that’s all a bit too high-level anyway I don’t think the time you have to extend to extract knowledge this way is really worth it even if after this process you might certainly have the most up to date, scientifically accurate knowledge on one certain thing. That’s only really viable if you either have infinite free time or are a scientist in said field and it is your job to possess this "super knowledge"). That’s why I’d prefer really good books because that’s ideally supposed to be sort of the condensed knowledge of someone who has done all that extremely hard work and can now present you with their findings in an easier to understand manner. And the outdated issue may apply to some books but generally I don’t think science moves that fast that if you get a more general overview over things written in idk 2017 that significant parts of that knowledge have been nullified through new findings since.. but of course you have to be careful if you read things about economics written in a time prior to wide-spread internet for example.. anyway where I think you’re correct is that it’s probably a good idea to look out for prescribed readings of reputable universities for certain classes they have or identifying authoritative figures in certain subjects and try to get booklist from them or read a book they‘ve published! Still alot of work but hoping for an easy way to this was maybe rather naive haha


videovillain t1_jdxqqk7 wrote

Actually, many journals are publications by experts in their field on specific topics and not always a report on “findings” but a “state of the ‘topic/theme/industry’ as they see it with supporting sources.” While other journals are filled with reviews of such material.

Basically, you just gotta start digging in to specific topics on the peer reviewed databases and you’ll soon see they are easier to read than you’d expect, and come with the bonus of citations to supportive works you can then go dig into. Making it actually even easier to research a topic once you get started!