Monthly Archives: November 2012

Science journalism in context: What would the arguments look like?

A study published recently in PLoS ONE concluded that science journalism fails to contextualize, over time, initial findings in medical studies. “Initial observations are often refuted or attenuated by subsequent studies,” the researchers write. But the subsequent studies receive less coverage than the initial findings. Whatever coverage subsequent studies do receive rarely references their relationship to the initial findings.

The relationship to argument in journalism here is of an “ought” question: “What ought journalists argue when they cover medical research?”

The researchers here contend that journalists ought to include a claim like, “this study [supports / refutes / questions / etc.] previous studies that…” Of course, links to previous coverage would be appropriate here, too.

Further down the line, we can judge the quality of the argument, in the form of the contextualization offered as well. What support is offered for the claim that the study supports or refutes or questions research X?

h/t: The Economist