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.


Publications

Adams, R.et al.  2017. How readers understand causal and correlational expressions used in news headlinesJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 23(1), pp. 1-14. (10.1037/xap0000100pdf

Sumner, P.et al. 2016. Exaggerations and caveats in press releases and health-related science newsPlos One 11(12), article number: e0168217. (10.1371/journal.pone.0168217pdf

Sumner, P.et al. 2014. The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational studyBMJ 349, article number: g7015. (10.1136/bmj.g7015pdf

 


Media Coverage

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…

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