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This is almost a meta question, but I think that it's interesting and valid for the main site.

Given a particular topic (for example: Is the Alexander Technique valid, or just snake oil?), where do I start researching it myself, as opposed to just asking the question here?

Please help me educate myself!

migrated from skeptics.stackexchange.com May 17 '11 at 5:33

This question came from our site for scientific skepticism.

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    It's not almost a meta question, it's exactly a meta question. We even have a few similar ones in meta. – Kit Sunde May 17 '11 at 5:13
  • @Kit, well I'll bow to the community's take on that. I don't think it's a meta question about skeptics.se, it's a meta question about scepticism. – Benjol May 17 '11 at 5:17
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    @Benjol - skeptics.SE isn't about skepticism as a subject, but rather about applying skepticism. (Newcomers are often rightfully confused about that). As such the only on-topic questions are those that are trying to analyze a specific claim. If you are posing a question about how you would go about analyzing a claim, then that would be a meta-applying-skepticism question. – Kit Sunde May 17 '11 at 5:27
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One of the best places to start is Google Scholar, on which you can search many peer-reviewed academic publications from a wide variety of disciplines (e.g., medicine, engineering, psychology, sociology, economics, &c.). For example, a number of promising results pop up when searching for "Alexander Technique validity":

Unfortunately, many of the full text articles will be behind a paywall, however,

  1. if you happen to be browsing from a University's network, you will often automatically get access to the paid content since most Universities buy subscriptions to the content;
  2. you will always be able to get the abstract to the article for free, which often includes the relevant information (e.g., what experiments were performed and a summary of the results); and
  3. one can often find a free version of an article that is behind a paywall by searching for its title on "regular" Google (in some disciplines, authors often post a free version of the article on their personal website).
  • Excellent stuff! Now off to try it out... (I still think this level of 'educational' content is valuable for the main site) – Benjol May 17 '11 at 12:39
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    Google Scholar can show all places where it found the document ("show x versions"), sometimes one of those is a free one. – Mad Scientist May 17 '11 at 12:55
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    One cave at with Google Scholar: It is not that the search engine actually knows that these are peer-reviewed papers. It searches for documents having the outside appearance of published scientific work, but you can just as well get links from the Discovery Institute (a creationist propaganda think-tank). You still have to make sure you don't get junk, but at least your search is more focused than just plain google. – Lagerbaer May 17 '11 at 18:56
  • @Lagerbaer good point. – ESultanik May 17 '11 at 18:57
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We're compiling a list of good sources in List of useful sources for Skeptics.SE, which may help you. It's Community Wiki, so feel free to add more to it if you see any good sources missing from the list.

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