There are times in my research papers that I need to cite generally accepted facts. For example, health care costs are rising. The CDC and other large organizations often create "fact sheets" with dozens of facts about a topic. Many times these are only published as a webpage. Going through the references to find and interpret the original research is time consuming and seems excessive. For example, I might introduce a paper with "here are some facts about rising healthcare costs" to lead into the main research which is a method to help address those costs.

I've used these fact sheets previously in conference papers, but I'm curious if they are generally accepted by journals or if they are considered a weak source.

1 Answer 1


If they are summary statistics, where possible, it's better to cite the source report or dataset but in general it's reasonable to cite such fact sheets as a published document authored by either the named author(if named) or the department which has generated it.

If the summary stats are published as part of a report cite the report, if they're just published as a web page then you'd cite it as a web page with retrieval date included.

How strong a source they are depends on the fact and the source. For example, statements about population changes or similar on a web page published by the census bureau would be an extremely high quality source.

On the other hand a snippet of general health advice without citations in a public brochure may be of far lower quality.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .