Guest Blog

Guest Blog

Commentary invited by editors of Scientific American

Understanding Why Science Research is Translated into News: A Survey for Journalists, Bloggers


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.

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.

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.

By participating in this survey, you also have the chance to win a $20 Starbucks gift card as the 100th, 200th, etc. participant.

To participate, simply copy and paste the following URL into a new browser window:

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!

Photo: (C) Paige Brown

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

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