I am trying to figure out how to cite what the general "word on the street" is regarding a certain topic within a scientific paper. As a researcher, I have noticed there are a number of popularly-held misconceptions regarding the object of my research held by colleagues in the same field (but different specialties) and the general lay public. Indeed, part of the goal of my research is to debunk these ideas. I need to figure out how to bring up this is what people have actually thought regarding the topic and therefore it is necessary to discuss. However, there are two problems...
- Many of the comments I have seen first-hand were made by the general lay public on social media. Citing random people's social media accounts to make a point in a scientific paper doesn't feel right and feels like punching down.
- Many of the comments on this by fellow colleagues are negative and could be interpreted as insulting if tied to a particular individual. Additionally, these comments are again almost all from pers. comms. or on social media. Again, this is an issue that people rarely study, so you have a lot of researchers in adjacent fields speculating on this subject casually but because they specialize in other subjects these comments never make it into print.
I need to cite these observations to show that these are actual things people have said, but I don't want to tie it to specific people because it might be seen as offensive. How should I do this? I would say (pers. obs. by author), but would it then come off as though I am the one claiming this rather than these are observations of what others have said? I'm hesitant to treat this as "general knowledge" because it may not be general knowledge in the next 20 years or so.