While all published writing must be consistent and accurate, these qualities are imperative for nonfiction writing. Inconsistencies and errors in journalism or academic writing undermine the authority of the content, the writer, and the publication. Even more critically, errors may result in charges of irresponsibility, unprofessionalism, libel, or plagiarism. Fact checking is crucial to catching and preventing such problems prior to publication, thus maximizing the authority and the impact of your work.
This process comprises:
- checking quotations against original sources;
- ensuring that sources are properly cited;
- confirming the accuracy of specific data (e.g., names, dates, titles, statistics); and
- detecting and correcting accidental plagiarism, such as paraphrases that are too similar to the original and/or lack citations.
Fact checking can take place on its own, but often it is part of the heavy copyediting process.