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What can scientists do better?

Our recent Guardian article proposed a series of measures that we believe scientists can take to improve the quality of science journalism. Our piece formed part of the run up to a debate at the Royal Institution involving ourselves and the chief online editor of Nature, Ananyo Bhattacharya.

In this supplementary section of InSciOut we provide additional details and rationale for the points raised in our article. It is designed to be read in conjunction with the article, where a reader wants more information.

Point 1. Watching what you release.

Recent studies have estimated that 70% or more of science news stories stem from press releases, with the quality of the press release closely linked to the quality of the subsequent news reports...


Point 2. Reaching Out.

It’s easy to argue that scientists and journalists need to become more familiar with the pressures, complications and goals of each other’s professions – but how?...

Points 3, 4 and 6. Being there, preparing and blogging.

It seems obvious to suggest this, but how do we do it most efficiently? …

Point 5. Thinking big.

This, we acknowledge, will be an on-going source of disagreement between journalists and scientists.

Point 7. Making it public.

In many fields of science, including our own, there is almost no incentive for scientists to publish their work in open access journals instead of the more prestigious journals with pay-subscriptions.

Point 8. Watching the neighbourhood.

As scientists we are constantly criticising, correcting, and commenting on science in our own fields as anonymous peer-reviewers of grants and papers. Yet few of us do the same thing when science steps outside academia and into the media. Why is this?


Point 9. Getting the facts.

For more information on the research project we have initiated, please see our current research page. And if you have ideas for research, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Note added on 8 March:

In a comment on our Guardian piece, Dr Andy Williams refers to two articles published in the Lancet that exemplify the differing goals of scientists and journalists. They can be downloaded here and here.