Questions to ask scientists about scientific research
Journalists talk to a variety of sources about scientific research. Different types of sources have different qualifications and can provide different types of information. Here are some considerations and questions when you are interviewing scientists.
To understand their academic background, check:
- Educational background
- Number of publications
- Lack of retractions on RetractionWatch.com
Questions to ask:
- Why does this study matter?
- Why did you want to do this study?
- How does this study relate to your other work?
- What was your role in the study?
- What surprised you the most?
- Did you change any of your or your family’s habits as a result of anything you learned from this study?
- What are the economic stakes of the study/topic from your perspective? Your employer's or funder's perspective? (i.e., whose profits / earnings might be harmed or helped by this study? Who is invested in it?)
- What comes next? (More studies? Different funders? Legislation?)
Taken from Whose Truth? Tools for Smart Science Journalism in the Digital Age, a self-directed course by Elissa Yancey at Poynter NewsU.
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