Fact Checking - When is enough, enough?
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Hello everyone,

I'm in the process of finishing my manuscript for a book of essays on restoring nature in urban settings. In the past, I've done all my own fact checking prior to publishing stand-alone essays, but for this project, I'm feeling extremely nervous.  Maybe it's first book jitters, but I feel I need to somehow do more than what I usually do (which is rely on research papers, books by experts, personal experience / accounts which are labeled as such, and, if possible, experts to interview).

I'm curious what methods others in this group use for fact-checking. For example:

Do you look for experts to read your work (and how do you recruit them) or do you solely rely on research papers, government papers, newspapers, etc?

When do you reach a conclusion that enough is enough, and the points you're making are adequately documented?  

Have you ever employed professional researchers and/or editors as fact checkers who can review your sources / citations and point our deficiencies?

Do you have any lessons learned to share? As in, what you'd never do again and what you now do that works well?  

What haven't I asked about fact checking that should be mentioned in this conversation?

Thanks for your help!

Adrienne (who's meeting with the developmental editor next week)

  • Hi Adrienne- only just seeing this question now.  But here is what I have learned in reference to writing nature/science for kids (which I have been working on for the last year) and much of it based on the Boyd's Mills Press/Highlights model, which is where I learned it ... 

    It totally depends on the publisher, but for kid's science/nature, BMP definitely wants expert reviews.  I recruited mine by simply looking up their contact info on their scientific paper, and sending an email introducing myself.  Most scientists are rather kind, and willing to talk about their topic.  Also, you could try academics.  The couple of Professors I talked to were more than willing to help.  

    BMP/Highlights only want primary sources of info; government papers, peer- reviewed scientific papers, and interviews with scientists in the field.  They are extremely careful about the things they publish, and make sure everything is correct.  I have heard that other publisher do  not fact check, and care much less.  Which may be all well and good, but when it comes down to it, it is your name on the work, and you will be responsible if the facts are incorrect.

    I think enough is enough when the info/facts you are researching start to repeat themselves.  When you have hit all the sources and are not turning up anything new.  

    Good luck- I can't wait to read your work!


  • Thanks Michelle, that's good advice.  I have it in mind to call a few people at the UW and ask if they know a graduate student who would like a reasonable-but-fair-pay review job. Can't hurt, can it?

    Sorry for the delay in replying. SW never lets me know when someone comments on my posts, and I hadn't check the site since early October.

  • Dear Adrienne,

    Wow, that is a long list of questions!  I too am working on my first book and it is also nature based writing, so I am also struggling with some of these questions.  I am lucky in that I am currently a member of a large research community, Boise State University.  I am not ashamed to say that I often turn to this pool of educated individuals when fact checking, however I think you've done your due diligence, already.  It sounds like you've thoroughly checked and rechecked your material.  If you are nervous still, contact your local university.  You'd be surprised how willing people are to help, in exchange for lively conversation or a cup of coffee.  Good luck.