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Understanding Why Science Research Is Translated into News: A Survey for Journalists and Bloggers, Part 2

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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In August, 2013, I started conducting a wide online survey of science journalists and bloggers to better understand why and how science research is translated into news. An earlier SciAm guest blog post introduced that survey:

When it comes to science in the news, many scientists lament poor quality of news coverage of scientific studies. Over-claiming headlines. Lack of understanding of the scientific method. Scientific findings placed outside of their context.

Credit: Maia Weinstock (pixbymaia) via Flickr

But perhaps we can’t fully understand the sources of hype or misinformation in science news coverage until we better understand the rules journalists use for selection and production of science news studies. Why does one scientific study make it into the news, and another not? Why does one scientific press release catch a journalist’s eye, and another not?

This is precisely the question I am trying to answer with a new science communication project for my PhD research at Louisiana State University. For this project, I have created a survey that aims to answer questions related to how science research and press releases are translated into science news.

Nearly 1,000 science journalists and bloggers participated in Part I of the survey last year. Today, I am introducing Part II of this survey – a follow-up to answer more questions and confirm some intriguing results from Part I. (But you needn’t have participated in Part I to participate in Part II now!)

If you are a journalist, blogger, freelance writer, magazine writer, TV producer, radio announcer, podcast producer, or anything in between, I’m asking you to participate in this online survey. By participating in this survey, which only takes 15 minutes to complete, journalists, bloggers and other communicators can help me understand when and why science makes its way from research publication to news story.

Once you’ve completed this survey, you will also have the chance to read an abstract and summary of the results from Part I, which have now been submitted for publication. I will also hopefully be blogging about the results of Part I and Part II soon right here at SciAm!

To participate, simply follow the link below or copy and paste the URL into a new browser window:

https://lsucommunications.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_czOl353cN333tQN

This survey will hopefully be translated itself into a peer-reviewed research paper that will help other communication scholars understand the why’s of science news story selection. But in order to make that happen, I need your help! Please spread the word about this survey, link to it on Facebook and Twitter, and send it to your journalism colleagues.

Thank you for your participation!

Image: For additional information see Maia Weinstock’s September 2013 post for Scientific American Blogs, “Breaking Brick Stereotypes: LEGO Unveils a Female Scientist”

Paige Brown About the Author: Paige Brown is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Mass Communication at the Manship School, Louisiana State University. In her research, she focuses on science and environmental communications and message effectiveness. She also holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from Louisiana State University. Paige is the author of the science blog From The Lab Bench, hosted on SciLogs.com, where she is also the blogging community manager. Follow on Twitter @FromTheLabBench.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






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  1. 1. gvcalder 4:35 pm 03/17/2014

    Whether or not individuals and/or organizations oppose genetic modification of crops, the fact is that the technology is established. Like it or not. Their efforts would be more constructively spent to ensure that those modifications are safe and effective. One only has to look at the drug industry to see numerous prescription medications that should for either safety and/or effectiveness of prescription medications that should not be on the market, but are, only because of the powerful lobby of that industry.

    Link to this

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