I doubt anyone ever noticed since no one has ever commented, but I apply a hierarchy when it comes to quoting sources to back up my statements. Nothing undermines and argument like a dubious source, and who I quote might say something about me (e.g. Naomi Klein, yes; Naomi Wolf, no).
I always try to seek first hand sources. If someone is quoting another, go back to that quoted source – because sometimes, even they are quoted sources. Quotemining, biases and agendas, misunderstanding, “interpretation”, or a game of telephone – they all detract from what you’re trying to say.
Below the fold is a rough and very incomplete list of sources by what I consider their level of credibility. Those named are not the only source I would use, and this applies to any subject or science (even though many listed are medical). The groups listed near the top are interchangeable, several being equally credible. Those at the bottom (less credible or fact checked) being interchangeable for credibility.
Universities and Colleges:
- Any accredited institution doing peer reviewed research
- Journal of the American Medical Association
- British Medical Journal and Tobacco Control
- New England Journal of Medicine
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- __________ Medical Association (insert country name)
- Medecins Sans Frontieres
- Red Cross and Red Crescent
Disease Research Organizations:
- __________ Cancer Association/Society (insert country name)
- __________ Lung Association/Society (insert country name)
Museums and Science Advocates:
- Encyclopedia Britannica
- Oxford Research Encyclopedias
- Various encyclopedias and reference works
Independent News Media:
- Mother Jones
- The Intercept
- The Guardian (having a TERF editor is a problem)
- The Advocate
- The Independent
Corporate News Media:
- Wire services (not linked or named for a reason)
- Print and online newspapers
- Commercial television news (e.g. BBC, CBC)
Less Established News Media:
Medical Periodicals and Websites:
Political and Human Rights Media:
Opinion Sites and Pages:
Substandard News Media:
Blogs (independent and collectives):
This is not a be-all-and-end-all list, and suggestions and amendments are welcome.
In computer science, people talk about “bare metal programming”, getting as close to machine language as possible. And when talking about facts and data, I want to be as close to the original and source as possible. I may not be a credible source, but I want those I quote to be.
Putting blogs as the bottom is not condemnation or insult, especially since I write one. But generally speaking, these are opinion pages without the finances and resources to do more than internet searches and commenting on events, hence why the push for original sources.