We need to very carefully check that what's written in every article is correct. For example, Josephine Tey’s excellent book The Daughter of Time, beautifully lays out how people have known for hundreds of years that it was Henry VII Tudor who most likely had the young princes in the tower killed, not Richard III. However, if you open the average European history book, it still blames Richard III. There are all kinds of very sneaky untruths that may be well known to experts of a topic, but that still are widely circulated in speech and print. Similarly, the Great Wall of China is not visible from the moon, though I'd often heard it's the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World that is. This "fact" comes from an ancient Chinese legend, hardly a credible source. But then... almost no one knows its source, so it is widely believed. Neither is a koala, a bear. Koalas are marsupials. While they're adorable and cuddly like a teddy bear, it is technically incorrect to call them "koala bears"; they should simply be called "koalas".
To make things even more difficult, new discoveries are constantly changing how we look at the world, and overturning old truths. Several years ago, I would have chosen the example of "Giant Pandas" instead of "koalas" as a "false" bear; studies had determined that they were less like bears than previously believed and should be not called "Pandas Bears". But wait! Even more recent studies of Panda genetics have overturned that thinking, and scientists now say it's once again safe to call them "Panda Bears". (See Fun Facts #1) This is why Earth Chronicle articles should be researched thoroughly by people who know or are willing to learn a topic inside out. Well enough, that you can confidently make corrections, or if necessary dump an entire article because it’s not accurate.
We also need researchers to confirm the authenticity of the research citations used to back up an article. There are four main problems.
Sources may be real but untrustworthy. Political or business propaganda frequently fall into this category or works by individuals who have a real or imagined interest in an issue. While these sources may prove what the author states in his article, unfortunately the source is wrong. This creates problems like citing a history text which says Richard III put the young princes to death. Not everything you read is gospel, and that's why we need researchers like you to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The author may have cited real sources, but they don't prove what the author claims. An author may have misquoted a source, taken quotes out of context, or misunderstood the meaning of a quote. This creates problems like attributing a position to an author who presented the idea only to disprove it. The position needs to be attributed to those who actually support the position. Or citing a particular research study as proof of a point, when actually that's not what the study proved at all. The citation needs to be removed, and if possible replaced by a source that actually backs up the article's claim.
The author of a submission may have fabricated sources. The source may not exist, or entire quotes may have been fabricated. This creates problems like those attributed to US president Richard Nixon's campaign. Nixon is supposed to have circulated a damning pamphlet against his opponent, George McGovern, backed up by many footnotes from authoritative experts and scholars. When checked, the sources did not exist. (We have yet to track down this pamphlet, if you have any info about it, please let us know.) This is outright intellectual dishonesty and our researchers help to ensure that such behavior is not tolerated in any Earth Chronicle article.
Finally, there's the opposite problem: the author may have plagarized. It's one thing to borrow material from another source. You are completely allowed to use quotations and cite the relevant sources. As long as you keep your quotations brief and we have not already maxed out references to a particular book, that's fine. What isn't fine is quoting a large amount (more than 300 words) of non-public domain text. This is a practice called overquoting and it amounts to stealing someone's words with attribution; that's not ok. What also isn't fine is stealing someone else's writing and explicitly or implicitly passing it off as your own. There are so many questions in the universe that we need your help answering, there's absolutely no reason that any author should be stealing someone else's answers to old questions. As our researcher, we need your help to prevent this from happening.
If the accuracy of a submission's sources are questionable or you can't confirm them to make sure they really say what the submission claims, check with us at Earth Chronicle. We'll draw on other resources to help answer your questions, or advise you on how to proceed. We will frequently withdraw citations, or hold back full articles until more information can be obtained. This is Earth Chronicle; there's no reason to rush. We just want to do our very best to get it right. And if you notice proofreading or editing issues, don't be shy about mentioning them; while research is your primary focus, we hope that all members of the research team will help each other out.
You can be an amateur willing to track down citations at the library and bone up on a subject to assess an article's accuracy. In this case, you’ll most likely get all kinds of different articles. You can be major researcher who understands your field inside out. In this case, you may only rarely be called upon to assist when we need to check an article that falls in your area of expertise. Also, you can simply let us know what you'd like to work on. We're more than happy to pass you papers potluck or in specific fields, whatever you prefer. But whoever you are and whatever articles you work on, You provide the intellectual security that makes Earth Chronicle safe for people to research, look up, and trust. In the process of this research, it's quite possible you will wind up writing articles of your own. It's perfectly fine to author articles while you research other articles for Earth Chronicle; if you're willing to take on both jobs, go for it!