New Research Must Be Better Reported, The Future of Society Depends On It
Andy Tattersall , 10 Jan 18
       

Understanding how and why things happen can help people make sense of the world. Pexels

Newspaper articles, TV appearances and radio slots are increasingly important ways for academics to communicate their research to wider audiences. Whether that be the latest health research findings or discoveries from the deepest, darkest parts of the universe.

In this way, the internet can also help to facilitate these channels of communication – as well as discussions between academics, funders and publishers, and citizen scientists and the general public.

Yet all too often research-led stories start with “researchers have found”, with little mention of their names, institution and who funded their work. And the problem is that by reporting new research in this way, it fails to break down the stereotypical image of an ivory tower. For all readers know these “researchers” might as well be wearing white lab coats with the word “boffin” on their name badges.

Rolling news

News is now a 24-hour operation. Rolling coverage of stories means journalists have their work cut out in maintaining this cycle. But that is no excuse for missing out important pieces of information that underpin a story.

Take for example a story relating to health research that has wide ranging societal impact. Supporting evidence, links and named academics help a story’s authenticity and credibility. And at a time when “fake news” is an increasingly sticky problem it becomes essential to link to the actual research and therefore the facts.


Accurate reporting, it’s not rocket science. Pexels

This is important, because research goes through a peer review process where experts in the same field of research critically assess the work before it can be published. This is similar to news stories that are edited to ensure they are of good quality – although this process takes far less time.

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