We are a collaboration between scientists and journalism academics studying how science gets reported in the press and the processes that create misunderstandings and exaggerations. We focus on areas relevant for human health – biomedical and social sciences. We have carried out a large study to build a better evidence-base of where things go right and where things go wrong in the chain between published peer-reviewed studies, press releases and news reports. We are following this up with laboratory and online research on how readers understand or misunderstand different phrases and also collaborating with press officers to study actual press releases in the real world.
Adams, R.et al. 2017. How readers understand causal and correlational expressions used in news headlines. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 23(1), pp. 1-14. (10.1037/xap0000100)
Bossema, F. G.et al. 2019. Expert quotes and exaggeration in health news: a retrospective quantitative content analysis. Wellcome Open Research 4, pp. 56. (10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15147.1)
Bott, L.et al. 2019. Caveats in science-based news stories communicate caution without lowering interest.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, pp. -.
Sumner, P.et al. 2016. Exaggerations and caveats in press releases and health-related science news. Plos One 11(12), article number: e0168217. (10.1371/journal.pone.0168217)
Sumner, P.et al. 2014. The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study. BMJ 349, article number: g7015. (10.1136/bmj.g7015)
Our first paper was published in the BMJ (10/12/14) and attracted widespread media attention.
The aim of this study was to identify the source of exaggerations in health news – looking at whether these distortions were first present in the news articles or whether they also appeared in the associated press releases that were issued by the 20 leading UK universities in 2011. Here are the links to the study, an editorial from Ben Goldacre, our own press release and some of the news uptake that the study has attracted – including our own piece from the Guardian…