Science and medical writing
Entries here are aimed more at "science writers" (those of us writing about science, medicine, and health for the general reader) than for "scientific and medical writers" (scientists writing for each other).
• Covering health reform
• Covering medical beats
• Covering the environment
• Covering the opioid crisis: Addiction, treatment, and recovery
• Diverse voices
• Getting the numbers right
• Evidence-based medicine
• HIPAA and patient privacy rules
• How not to misread or misreport research reports
• Medical and scientific images and illustrations (a partial list of sources)
• Medical ghostwriting
• Miscellaneous short pieces/posts for science and medical writers (everything that didn't fit a category here )
• Narrative structure (storytelling) in science and medical writing
• Problems covering government agencies
• Reforming the U.S. health care system (on sister site--many entries)
• Relationships between public information officers (PIOs) and journalists
• Transparency and openness in reporting on science results
• When science bucks science denial, ideology, or special interests
• Where journalists get their medical news and information (blog post)
• Where to get science news
• Blogs, news, essays, podcasts, shortform pieces about medicine, health, and science
• Books for science, health, and medical writers
• Degree programs in science writing
• Medical, health, and scientific conferences journalists might cover
• Online writing workshops
• Organizations for medical, health care, and science writers
• Science writing seminars, workshops, and internships
• Corporate and technical communications for more on technical writing. For examples and explanations of better ways to tell a science story,
• Adding images, sound, story, humor, animation for ways to enliven a story.
• Journalism and journalists for topics of broader interest to journalists, such as
---Artful journalistic interviewing
---Covering disability, mental illness, and suicide prevention
---Journalists on journalism (higher-level how-to's, many related to science)
• Pat's website on Dying, Surviving, and Aging with Grace (not necessarily in that order) for many links on medical and health issues and resources.
• The AP Learns to Talk About Addiction. Will Other Media Follow? (Maia Szalavitz, UnDark, 6-6-17) The influential stylebook discards ‘addict’ and ‘alcoholic’ for nonjudgmental language that recognizes addiction as a medical disorder. “Addict” should no longer be used as a noun. “Instead,” the stylebook says, “choose phrasing like ‘he was addicted.’” In short, separate the person from the disease. "Language is complicated and often slow to change — and for a group that has been criminalized, fighting stigma and misinformation is a constant struggle. But when the media start treating people with addiction with the same respect that they use for other patients, perhaps the rest of America will start to accept that addiction is a medical problem and that moralizing and punishment have failed." On the same message: Journalists, Stop Using Words Like Addict and Drug Abuser (Zachary Siegel, Slate, 6-6-17) Being called an “addict” defines my humanity with one small facet of my identity, essentially erasing the rest of me.
• Four facts every journalist should know when covering the opioid epidemic (Kenneth Feder and Noa Krawczyk, CJR, 8-15-17) #4: A person might have an addiction, but this does not make him or her “an addict.” The word addict carries heavy negative connotations, and the press should not foist this label on persons who are struggling with a chronic illness.
• Journalists on Covering Opioid Addiction and Abuse (C-SPAN, 10-18-17) Journalists from the Washington Post and CBS’s “60 Minutes” discussed their work on a joint investigation into the influence U.S. pharmaceutical companies have over Congress and the federal agencies tasked with regulating their businesses. They talked about their cross-platform collaboration and their methods for identifying and interviewing sources, as well as the response from the public and the subjects of their investigation.
• Covering Addiction Through Solutions Journalism: Solutions, Evidence, and Evidence-based Solutions (Sydney Schaefer, 1-25-18) In this special topics course, a group of students from Temple University’s Department of Journalism in the Klein College of Media and Communication spends a full semester reporting on addiction solutions. Topics to be discussed: harm reduction, detox, inpatient and outpatient rehab, recovery housing, support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication-assisted recovery, recovery through fitness, community efforts. Plus questions like How do news organizations impact the public's perception of addiction How has the news media's portrayal of addiction evolved over time? How do race and socioeconomic status play a role in addiction coverage? How can we shift to a solutions-oriented approach in our addiction reporting?
• There’s a highly successful treatment for opioid addiction. But stigma is holding it back. (German Lopez, Vox, 11-15-17) Medication-assisted treatment is often called the gold standard of addiction care. But much of the country has resisted it. Over the past few years, America’s harrowing opioid epidemic — now the deadliest drug overdose crisis in the country’s history — has led to a lot of rethinking about how to deal with addiction. For addiction treatment providers, that’s led to new debates about the merits of the abstinence-only model — many of which essentially consider addiction a failure of willpower — so long supported in the US....The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, for example, used to subscribe almost exclusively to the abstinence-only model, based on an interpretation of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous popularized in American addiction treatment in the past several decades. But in 2012, Hazelden announced a big switch: It would provide medication-assisted treatment...America is finally considering how its response to addiction can be better rooted in science instead of the moralistic stigmatization that’s existed for so long. The research is clear: Medication-assisted treatment works. Lopez compares the safety, ease of use, and effectiveness of methadone, buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone), and Naltrexone.
Medical journalist Norman Bauman responds: The Vox article that she cites goes through the arguments, and the scientific literature (and even quotes Maia Szalavitz). This is bizarre. You have a story that says, "There are arguments on both sides," the evidence she cites shows that arguments on the abstinence side are wrong, and she still supports abstinence.
"The short answer is that methadone/buprenorphine/Suboxone programs are highly effective (or at least the best we've got), and the drug-free programs are failures for the overwhelming majority of patients. Some programs look as if they have reasonably good outcomes after 6 months (although you have to look at dropout rates and the other things in the HealthNewsReview checklist). But only methadone/buprenorphine/Suboxone is effective in the long-term (=>3 year) studies. It's the same pattern with nicotine or obesity. If you compel people into drug-free programs, they will reliably relapse, and get HCV, HIV, and overdose deaths, in great numbers. (That's what happened in Indiana under Pence) There are a few exceptions of people who do manage with abstinence, but you have to make it clear that they are exceptions. If you showed up in the ER with a heart attack, and they offered you one treatment with 10% survival, and another treatment with 90% survival, which one would you take?
(And of course a story that finds people who succeeded long-term with abstinence is going to have survivor bias. https://xkcd.com/1827/ The people who died aren't going to be around to talk about the failures of abstinence.")
• No Quick Fixes: Telling the Story of Long-term Recovery from Opioid Addiction (Susan Stellin, Nieman Reports,1-24-18) As more people in recovery decide to share their stories, journalists are exploring the under-reported experiences of people who have been drug-free for many years. As media outlets shift from covering the problem of addiction to highlighting potential solutions, many reporters are finding that it's easier to focus on what's wrong with our treatment system rather than identifying how it can or should be fixed. There's a lack of good data about basic questions.
Norman Bauman responds: "As I've said, there are two kinds of balance: (1) False balance. A story that says, "On the one hand, one side says this; on the other hand, one side says that; it's our job to judge who's right. (2) Objective reporting. A story that says, "These are the arguments on side, these are the arguments on the other side, and I (do/don't) have to tell you that the evidence clearly favors one side. I've always argued for (2). This Nieman story is a good example of (1).
This author has an emotional stake in the issue. Her husband is a former IV drug user who has committed to abstinence. I hope he makes it but the odds are pretty good that he will relapse, and if he doesn't, he's a rare exception.
"I'll tell you how to write about opioid drug treatment. Look at the evidence. Look for a review article in the major peer-reviewed journals (the medical librarians recommended NEJM, JAMA, Lancet, and BMJ to me, and those journals always cite Cochrane). Ask the proponents on all sides for evidence published in the peer-reviewed journals. Go through the HealthNewsReview checklist https://www.healthnewsreview.org/toolkit/tips-for-understanding-studies/. If somebody says, "I don't have peer-reviewed studies to support my treatments," then he's a medical fraud. It's like treating diabetes with naturopathy."
• Addiction to opioids (Substance abuse and recovery--addiction as a medical condition)
• Notable Narrative: The Cincinnati Enquirer’s stunning “Seven Days of Heroin” (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 9-25-17) As far as Terry DeMio knows, she’s the only journalist in the country with the title “heroin reporter.” She’s been covering the opioid epidemic for The Cincinnati Enquirer for five years, including two on the beat full time. Over one week in July, the paper sent out more than 60 reporters, photographers and videographers to document the impact of heroin in Greater Cincinnati. “We just wanted to show people: This is what a heroin epidemic looks like.”
• Painkiller politics: Effort to curb prescribing under fire (Matthew Perrone, Associated Press, 12-20-15). Perrone examines struggling efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rein in opioid abuse by releasing new guidelines on their use. Facing pushback from the drug industry and the FDA, CDC moved its deadline. Read the story!
• While heroin use grabs headlines, don’t forget coverage of prescription pain meds (Susan Heavey, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists, 1-11-16)
• Only One In Twenty Justice-Referred Adults In Specialty Treatment For Opioid Use Receive Methadone Or Buprenorphine (Noa Krawczyk, Caroline E. Picher, Kenneth A. Feder, and Brendan Saloner, Health Affairs, Dec. 2017) "Of all criminal justice sources, courts and diversionary programs were least likely to refer people to agonist treatment. Our findings suggest that an opportunity is being missed to promote effective, evidence-based care for justice-involved people who seek treatment for opioid use disorder."
• Waiting for Breaking Good: The Media and Addiction Recovery (PDF, William White essay, 2014). He offers twelve points, only some of which are touched on here: 1, Distorted media coverage of active addiction fuels social stigma and contributes to the discrimination that many people in recovery face as they enter the recovery process. 4. Media outlets portray addiction recovery as an exception to the rule....yet scientific studies of alcohol and drug problems in the community consistently reveal that most addictions end in recovery, not with perpetual addiction, prolonged institutionalization, or death. 6. When the story of recovery is told, it is most often told from the perspective of the initiate rather than the perspective of long-term recovery. 10. The media tell the story of recovery only as a personal story rather than a larger story of the role of family and community in addiction recovery. Journalistic coverage of recovery is “rare and tangential,” contributing to a popular perception that overcoming addiction is the exception rather than the norm.
• Covering the opioid crisis Editor-in-Chief Steve Cornwell goes behind the scenes of The Dialog’s coverage of the overdose crisis (12-22-17
• The Opioid Epidemic: A Crisis Years in the Making (Maya Salam, NY Times, 10-26-17) A roundup of the Times's best reporting on the epidemic, including short answers to hard questions about it.
• Strong social media presence helps Md. reporter cover her community’s opioid crisis (Susan Heavey, Covering Health, AHCJ, 10-25-17)
• Turning the Focus from Opioid Addiction to Treatment and Recovery (Susan Stellin, Nieman Reports, Winter 2018) What is still missing from most media coverage is the perspective of people who have been drug-free for many years.
• Mental health services locator, by state (SAMHSA, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)
• National Addiction Rehab Locator
• Addiction to opioids and psychoactive drugs (background and links to important articles)
• Addiction, treatment and recovery (links to important articles)
• Fraudulent practices in addiction treatment (patient brokers, shoddy care, urine-testing millionaires, Google-gaming rehab ads, and more)
• Opioid addiction with a dark side (e.g., methadone and buprenorphine being subject to "street use" and abuse -- partly because of the hoops we make people jump through to get access to them)
• Helpful books about addiction and recovery
• Culprits in the opioid crisis Who caused what? Who worsened the situation? How can we effectively address the crisis?
• Recovering from addiction: A difficult path (and not short-term)
• Including Diverse Voices in Science Stories (Christina Selby, The Open Notebook, NASW, 8-23-16) A necessary first step in countering one’s own social biases is recognizing and acknowledging that they exist. Relying heavily on past media coverage to find expert sources can perpetuate the exclusion of underrepresented groups. Breaking out of that mold requires casting a wider net and searching more systematically for sources. Includes tips for finding scientists of color who have experience working with the media.
• Decolonizing Science Writing in South Africa (Sibusiso Biyela, The Open Notebook, National Association of Science Writers, 2-12-19) Sibusiso Biyela was assigned to write a piece in Zulu about a new dinosaur species discovered in South Africa. But Zulu doesn?t have words for "dinosaur" or "fossil." "My news piece wasn't just a news piece," Biyela writes. "It was an attempt to tell a science story in a language that science overlooked--to help right a societal wrong." He discusses how he navigated those challenges, and he draws on both his experiences and the work of others with the goal of decolonizing science writing in South Africa.
• The Science Byline Counting Project: Where Are the Women—and Where Are They Not? (Cynthia Graber and Katharine Gammon, TON, 2-10-16)
• Why Is It So Hard for Foreign Journalists to Break into U.S. and European Outlets? (Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, TON, 8-29-17) A conversation among a half-dozen editors and writers.
• Gender Differences in Pitching: Results from the TON Pitching Habits Survey (Jane C. Hu, TON, NASW, 2-14-17)
• Writing When on the Autism Spectrum (Kelly Brenner, TON, NASW, 10-9-18) 'But many of us in the autism community—including me—favor “identify-first” language. We believe that autistic people can speak for ourselves, and that it is we who should dictate the language we use to describe ourselves. And we regard autism not as an illness we suffer from but as an inextricable part of our identity, and we would rather frame it as something positive.' "Yes, autistic traits are part of us, but we can learn to manage and even capitalize on them."
• On Being a Science Writer and Managing a Mental Illness (Alex Riley, TON, 7-18-17) "There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription for writing about science while managing a mental illness. The relationship between the two is different for everyone....I see the days when I can write as a gift from my brain. I cherish them, and they can even help me recover."
• Writing Well about Disability (Rachel Zamzow, TON, 10-24-17) "Treating disabled people as sources of inspiration simply because they have a disability reduces them to objects of others’ entertainment and curiosity....“Social media has been the game changer, because now people with disabilities, disability organizations, and disability-rights advocates are able to kind of drive the coverage."
• Is There a Crisis of Truth? (Steven Shapin, Los Angeles Review of Books, 12-2-19) "Astrology and homeopathy flourish in modern Western societies, almost a majority of the American adult public doesn't believe in evolution, and a third of young Americans think that the Earth may be flat....The problem we confront is better described not as too little science in public culture but as too much. Given the absurdities and errors abroad in the land, it may seem crazy to say this, yet the point can be pressed. Consider, again, the climate change deniers, the anti-vaxxers, and the creationists. They're wrong-headed of course, but, like the Moon-landing deniers and the Flat-Earthers, their rejection of Right Thinking is not delivered as anti-science. Instead, it comes garnished with the supposed facts, theories, approved methods, and postures of objectivity and disinterestedness associated with genuine science. Wrong-headedness often advertises its embrace of officially cherished scientific values — skepticism, disinterestedness, universalism, the distinction between secure facts and provisional theories — and frequently does so more vigorously than the science rejected. The deniers' notion of science sometimes seems, so to speak, hyperscientific, more royalist than the king."
• When ideology or special interests hijack science topics (Susan D'Agostino, National Association of Science Writesrs, 11-14-19). Among points made by this NASW panel: “Universities present themselves as great bastions of liberal humanistic values,” said panelist Beryl Benderly, a prize-winning journalist and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She quickly added that, in reality, universities are “systemic exploiters on a massive, massive, disgraceful scale of cheap labor and the aspirations of idealistic young people.” The latter is a fact-based assessment of universities’ swelling ranks of contingent faculty who do not earn living wages and doctoral students who serve as cheap labor before graduating into flooded job markets. In citing the false narrative put forth by university administrators and tenured faculty, Benderly did not suggest that they lie with intention. Rather, all panelists emphasized human adeptness in dismissing information that conflicts with one’s own worldview."
On the same panel: "'I go in understanding that my top priority is to question my own understanding,' said said Tamar Haspel, a columnist for the Washington Post. This writer was reminded of her reasons for having entered science journalism. That is, writing about science, like science itself, is about discovery. The process benefits when minds are wide open."
• What You Believe about “Science Denial” May Be All Wrong (Kari Fischer, Opinion, The Scientist, 2-11-19) "Whether it be climate change debates, vaccine fears, or skepticism of genetically engineered crops, the media is full of stories about those who distrust the conclusions or motivations of the scientific community....In November 2018, Rutgers Global Health Institute and the New York Academy of Sciences hosted a conference entitled Science Denial: Lessons and Solutions, supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Livestreamed here.). Among lessons learned: "It's not 'science denial' and labeling someone a 'denier' only leads to their re-entrenchment. Plus, few people reject science in its entirety. We are much more likely to encounter individuals who believe in climate change, for example, but choose not to inoculate their children due to vaccine hesitancy. More importantly, we ALL have a tendency to cherry-pick facts that support our beliefs, and eschew those that fail to comport with our motivations, ideologies, or fears." Keep it relevant: "When we transition to sharing information, we should present it in a way that is relatable to our target audience and their community. Rather than talking about how climate change is disastrous for polar bears, which most people are not likely to encounter, we can describe ways in which it will affect them immediately. For example, one speaker from northern Wisconsin learned from local winter loggers that the ground was not freezing as much in recent years, causing their machinery to sink in the mud. In addition, we can help our audience arrive at a new understanding by asking them to evaluate the evidence for themselves, so try offering data instead of conclusions." Excellent advice; read the whole brief article.
• How to Debate a Science Denier (Diana Kwon, Scientific American, 6-25-19) "A new finding shows that marshaling facts and identifying an opponent's rhetorical techniques are effective at dampening a skeptic's message...These results counter a so-called backfire effect, in which debating a science denier may actually reinforce people's misconceptions. While a handful of studies have provided evidence that such unintended results may be widespread, more recent investigations have found that these effects may be limited to specific circumstances—such as among people whose fundamental beliefs about a functioning society are challenged by the new information."
• Yes, it's worth arguing with science deniers — and here are some techniques you can use (Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab, 6-28-19) "We wanted to see if we could pre-emptively debunk, or 'pre-bunk,' fake news by exposing people to a weak dose of the methods used to create and spread disinformation, so they have a better understanding of how they might be deceived," said Sander van der Linden, director of the Social Decision-Making Lab at the University of Cambridge...Researchers created the Bad News Game, a browser-based game in which players pretend to be a fake news creator: Players gain followers and credibility by going through a number of scenarios, each focusing on one of six strategies commonly used in the spread of misinformation [impersonating people online, using emotional language, polarization, conspiracy theories, discrediting opponents, and trolling people online]. At the end of each scenario, players earn a specific fake news badge…Players are rewarded for making use of the strategies that they learn in the game, and are punished (in terms of losing credibility or followers) for choosing options in line with ethical journalistic behavior. They gradually go from being an anonymous social media presence to running a (fictional) fake news empire.
• Alliance for Health Reform provides excellent Web resources and will help you find experts to interview. See in particular Covering Health Issues: A Sourcebook for Journalists .
• American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM), geared to academics, though physicians also get CME credits for attending annual conference. Offers a Supercourse (a global repository of lectures on public health and preventive health care, on epidemiology and global health. Supercourse described here.
••• American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) promotes excellence in medical communication through education, publications, and networking. Provides training and certificates and is working with several other organizations toward providing certification (a more expensive and elaborate ongoing process). Cynthia Haggard had a history of AMWA on her excellent Clarifying blog.
• Appalachian Science Communicators
• Asian Council of Science Editors (ACSE)
• Association of British Science Writers (ABSW)
• Associations of science journalists that belong to the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), including (among forty national, regional, or international organizations) the Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA) and the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW)
• Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE)
••• Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Extremely helpful organization. listserv, and conference for health and medical writers, with excellent resources available only to members. These include Covering Medical Research, the 2010 slim guide for understanding and reporting on studies (by Gary Schwitzer with Ivan Oransky), for AHCJ and the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism; Covering Health in a Multicultural Society: A resource guide for journalists; Covering Hospitals: Using Tools on the Web; Covering Obesity: A Guide for Reporters ; Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes ; Covering the Quality of Health Care: A Resource Guide for Journalists; Covering Medical Research: A Guide for Reporting on Studies; and Navigating the CDC: A Journalist’s Guide to the CDC Web Site . Plus issues of Health Beat, AHCJ's journal.
• Association of Health Care Journalists Statement of Principless
• Association of Independent Information Professionals (aiip, an industry association for owners of independent information businesses)
• AuthorAID -- a global research community providing networking, mentoring, resources and training to help developing country researchers publish their work
••• Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS). See Becoming a board-certified editor.
• Canadian Science Writers' Association (CSWA). Here's one issue they took up: Unmuzzle scientists, federal leaders urged (Emily Chung, CBC News, 4-16-11) 'A group representing 500 science journalists and communicators across Canada sent an open letter Tuesday to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May documenting recent instances where they say federal scientists have been barred from talking about research funded by taxpayers "We urge you to free the scientists to speak," the letter said. "Take off the muzzles and eliminate the script writers and allow scientists — they do have PhDs after all — to speak for themselves." '
• Council of Science Editors (CSE) (formerly the Council of Biology Editors, CBE). See CSE's Facebook page for style tips from CSE's manual, journal Science Editor, Scientific Style and Format
• Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW). CASW has its own descriptions of four science writers organizations.
• DC Science Writers Association (DCSWA, pronounced DUCK-swah)
• DC Science Cafe
• DC Science Comedy
• Drug Information Association (DIA)
• Environment and Energy Collaborative (NPR, Original reporting on climate, environment, and an energy system in transition)
• The European Association of Science Editors (EASE)
• European Medical Writers Association (EMWA)
• Guild of Health Writers (UK)
• Health and Science Communications Association (H&SCA)
• International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (known as the Vancouver Group, ICMJE). (I am not providing a link because my Norton software rates the site as unsafe in terms of computer threats.)
• International Science Writers Association (ISWA)
• International Society for the History of Medicine (SIHM)
• International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), pronounced IzMap (for stakeholders involved in the publication of medical research, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and device companies, medical publications and communications agencies, medical journal publishers and editors, and professional medical writers). Provides a formal, voluntary professional certification examination
• International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE), training and networking for editorial office staff in academic, scientific, medical, technical and professional publishing
• JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments, the first PubMed-indexed video methods journal in biology)
••• National Association of Science Writers (NASW), a major national association. NASW maintains eight public email lists for the discussion of subjects of interest to science writers (see NASW discussion groups.and two lists available only to members (including NASW Jobs). It publishes A Field Guide for Science Writers by Deborah Blum, Mary Knudson, and Robin Marantz Henig. See also Writer Resources, including Online resources for science writers, including a database of funding sources for science writers, a Fair Pay Tip Sheet, The Fine Print (contracts various members have shared), WordsWorth (journalists reporting on their clients), and (for nonmembers also) Marketing and publishing resources. See Problems covering government agencies for a discussion of issues associated with the relative power of journalists and public information officers (PIOs) in NASW.
• National Commission for Certification of CME Professionals (NC-CME)
• National Education Technology Writers Association (NETWA)
• New England Science Writers (NESW)
• Northern California Science Writers Association (NCSWA, pronounced NICK swa)
• Northwest Science Writers Association (NSWA)
• Nurse Author & Editor (newsletters may be helpful)
• Organizations for technical writers (links to an international list of professional organizations, maintained by Peter Ring consultants, Denmark)
• Penn State Association of Science Writers (a/k/a Penn State Science Writers Group)
• Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) (making better healthcare products possible)
• Science and Medicine SIG of the American Society of Indexers (ASI)
• Science Storytellers
• Science Writers & Communicators of Canada
• Science Writers in New York (SWINY)
••• Society for Technical Communication (STC), many local chapter
••• Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ)
• Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science (SAHMS)
• World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), for editors of peer-reviewed medical journals)
• World Conference of Science Journalists (Helsinki, Finland, June 24-28, 2013). ‘Killer’ science journalists of the future ready to take over the world! (Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American blog, 9-23-12, reporting on the 2012 World Conference of Science Journalists)
••• World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), made up of forty member associations. Holding its first U.S.-based conference Oct. 26-30, 2017, in San Francisco (theme: Bridging Science and Societies).
• Truth in Numbers (Cathy Shufro, Dartmouth Medicine.) A story about Medicine in the Media. During the nine years since it was initiated, 500 journalists have attended the course, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Medicine in the Media at Geisel, and the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Vermont. "We want doctors, the public, and policymakers to know what they can and cannot get from various medications, treatments, and interventions." Related reading: Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics, by Steven Woloshin, Lisa M. Schwartz, and H. Gilbert Welch.
• The Intern’s Survival Guide (Rachael Lallensack, The Open Notebook, NASW, 8-28-18) Drawing on her own experience and that of some of her former supervisors and colleagues (including Jane Lee, Lindzi Wessel, David Grimm, Lauren Morello), Rachael presents tips for how to survive and thrive at internships important to many science writers. "Overwhelmingly, the feedback I got from editors while reporting this story boiled down to a simple directive: ask more questions." Ask for help, build a network, overcome self-doubt ("Play the long game"), develop an organizational strategy for keeping track of key information ("such as deadlines, interviews and meetings, and plans for following up with sources").
• Finding and Landing the Right Internship in Science Writing (Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, The Open Notebook, 5-23-17)
• The Open Notebook (links to more reported features on this invaluable site).
• Medicine in the Media: : Debunking journal reports and news at #NIHMiM12 (NIH canceled its Medicine in the Media in 2013 because of sequestration, but you can read Judy Stone's 2012 piece on the course in Scientific American, 10-19-12) The course was co-sponsored by the NIH, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Very helpful links.
• Archived events, Knight Digital Media Center (available to registered members only)
• Narrative Medicine workshops provide narrative training with stories of illness to enable "practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians." (See separate entry for Narrative Medicine, for more information.)
• Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop
• Writing in the Sciences (Stanford Online) Courses by Platform (Stanford Openedx)
• Certification for medical writers. The Certified Medical Publication Professional (CMPP) exam is a three-hour, 150-item, multiple-choice computer-based examination, open to both members of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) members and nonmembers. Holding the certificate shows you have a thorough working knowledge of all aspects of medical publishing, including planning, execution, and professional ethics.
• Writing Science: Transforming Students’ Science Writing by Tapping into Writing Instruction Scholarship and Best Practices (Bethann Garramon Merkle, Bulletin, Ecological Society of America, 1-2-19) Highlights from the book Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom on how to become a better writing instructor.
•Medical Writer Certification (American Medical Writers Association) and MWC FAQs
• CMEP ( continuing medical education credit points )
• Google "science writing workshop" and you'll find some courses associated with colleges and universities. See also
• Bars and Pies Make Better Desserts than Figures , a sample chapter from Clinical Chemistry Guide to Scientific Writing (Clinical Chemistry's series of educational articles on how to design and write scientific research papers for publication--free online). Articles included:
Part 1. The Title Says It All
Part 2. The Abstract and the Elevator Talk: A Tale of Two Summaries
Part 3. "It was a cold and rainy night": Set the Scene with a Good Introduction
Part 4. Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why: The Ingredients in the Recipe for a Successful Methods Section
Part 5. Show Your Cards: The Results Section and the Poker Game
Part 6. If an IRDAM Journal Is What You Choose, Then Sequential Results Are What You Use
Part 7. Put Your Best Figure Forward: Line Graphs and Scattergrams
Part 8. Bars and Pies Make Better Desserts than Figures
Part 9. Bring Your Best to the Table
Part 10. The Discussion Section: Your Closing Argument
Part 11. Giving Credit: Citations and References
Part 12. How to Write a Rave Review
Part 13. Top 10 Tips for Responding to Reviewer and Editor Comments
Part 14. Passing the Paternité Test
• Working as a Medical Writer (Sarah A. Webb, Science, 6-22-07)
• Boston University, Science Journalism. Here is their FAQs page.
• MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing (a one-year Master's degree program). Here's Scope (the program's student publication)
• NYU Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) (New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute) Who We Are: Storytellers with a Passion for Science. What We Do: A Customized Curriculum, a Hands-On Approach. Where We Work: NYC, the World Capital of Science Journalism.
• University of California at Santa Cruz (Science Communication Program)
• Program on Hiatus (Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 5-3-13). "The Hopkins science writing program was always an odd fit for the institution, Finkbeiner said -- not that it contradicted the research university’s mission, but because it was housed alongside a master of fine arts program in fiction and poetry in the writing seminars department. It also relied wholly on part-time employees and adjunct instructors....Programs that exist independently seem to be faring worse than those that can draw on the resources of a full-fledged journalism school."
• Johns Hopkins Graduate Science Writing Program to Close (Michael Price, Science, 5-1-13)
• Columbia Suspends Environmental Journalism Program (Curtis Brainard, CJR, 10-19-09). Falling employment, rising education costs to blame. "Although our graduates have done well in their careers, even those still employed are finding few opportunities to do the kind of substantive reporting for which the dual degree program has trained them, as they scramble to do their own work plus that of laid-off colleagues. "
• Analytical writing for science & technology (T.M.Georges' online course, recommended by Sarah Wernick)
• Chest's Medical Writing Tip of the Month (your own personal online medical writing course). Chest Online--and it's free! PDF files of such articles as Reporting a Systematic Review; Hypothesis Testing, Study Power, and Sample Size; Comments on Writing Letters to the Editor: Moving From Duels and Fencing to Belles Lettres; Translating Patient Education Materials; Reporting "Basic Results" in ClinicalTrials.gov; Backing Up Your Statements: How To Perform Literature Searches To Prove Your Points; When a Picture Needs 1,000 Words; Abstracts for Professional Meetings: Small But Mighty; On the Table: Form and Function. Genuinely informative series.
• ****Clinical Chemistry Guide to Scientific Writing (free, online--full text, from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
• Online course offerings, Medical editing (University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and
• Online Course in Science Journalism (WFSJ and SciDev.Net), created by the World Federation of Science Journalists in close cooperation with the Science and Development Network, for use by professional journalists, journalism students and teachers. The first eight lessons (free for use by anyone in the world):
1) Planning and structuring your work (Jan Lublinkski)
2) Finding and judging science stories (Julie Clayton)
3) The interview (Christina Scott)
4) Writing skills (Nadia El-Awady)
5) What is science? (Gervais Mbarga and Jean-Marc Fleury)
6) Reporting on controversies (KS Jayaraman)
7) Reporting on science policy (Hepeng Jia and Richard Stone)
8) How to shoot science (Šárka Speváková and Carolyn Robinson).
For each course there is an e-lecture, self-teaching questions, assignments, and PDF versions. Read the User's Guide to the Online Course in Science Journalism . The course is available in English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Turkish.
• Freelance Medical Writing.: Make a 6-Figure Income and Work at Home Using Your Scientific/Medical Background (Books 1-6 from Emma Hitt Nichols' online course). Available as one book or several:
• 1–Medical Writing Prerequisite Skills and First Steps
• 2–Setting up Shop
• 3–Writing the Medical News
• 4–Writing Continuing Medical Education
• 5–Feature Article Writing for Science Journals, Magazines, and Trade Mags
• 6–Running Your Freelance Medical Writing Business
• How to Find Medical Conferences (Bob Finn's links, to be updated soon, perhaps). The other thing to do is find whatever local calendars there are of conferences in town -- at the town's conference center -- for whatever town you're in or are willing to travel to.
• AAAS Meetings The American Association for the Advancement of Science has its annual meeting in mid-February every year. It covers virtually every topic that can be considered "science." It will be held in Washington DC in 2019. (H/T Patricia Daukantas)
• AGU100: Advancing earth and space science "One meeting of scientists that is truly huge is the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union," says one colleague.
• Calendar of upcoming health and medical conferences (Association of Health Care Journalists)
• Clocate (Conferencelocate.com)
• Conference Listings: United States (COMS, by subject under Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Informatics, Engineering, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Healthcare/Medicine, Didactics/History/Philosophy of Science and Technology, and Continuing Professional Education, Courses.
• DocGuide to Medical Meetings
• Doctor's Review
• Excellent but Little-Known Medical Conferences (also Bob Finn, on his Medical Conference Blog, an opinionated, occasionally cranky, occasionally snarky blog on medical meetings from the viewpoint of a medical journalist)
• NatureEvents Directory (science events by date, by country, or by area of interest)
• Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare conference listings
• Tips for covering scientific conferences (Mark Taylor, Association of Health Care Journalists). For members only.
• Our job isn't to spin news (Sandra Sanchez, Commentary, The Monitor, 9-29-17) Op-ed emphasizing that it is not journalists' jobs to "spin" news for government officials.
• Today’s federal agencies are ‘highly message-controlled.’ Here’s what that means for health reporting (Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review, 11-10-15)
• Talk to the Hand (Jenni Bergal, Nieman Reports, Spring 2014) Public health reporters say federal agencies are restricting access and information, limiting their ability to cover crucial health issues
• For successful information requests, be familiar with guidelines for public affairs staff of the Department of Health and Human Services (Irene M. Wielawski, Covering Health, 7-27-15). See earlier piece: HHS releases guidelines for handling media requests (Pia Christensen, Covering Health, 9-22-11)
• A Game of Chicken: Inside Salmonella (Lynne Terry, Watchdog, The Oregonian, 5-1-15)
• FDA Whistleblower Report (FDAWebView). "This page is reserved for individual FDA employees who wish to report management abuse in the interest of government integrity and public health. Information entered here will be inaccessible to all persons other than the Editor of Dickinson's FDA Webview. Any information that might identify you will be deleted before any use is made of this information.
• Activists Rush to Save Government Science Data — If They Can Find It (Amy Harmon, NY Times, 3-6-17). I became aware of this story through InfoDocket (Library Journal).
• Lessons for Public Information Officers from Paul Revere (Doug Levy, Medium, 4-18-18) Also on LinkedIn "Nothing replaces human, personal contact. When emergency responders go door-to-door, compliance reaches close to 100 percent. No other method consistently gets above 75 percent. For emergency responders in 2018, the lessons are clear: establish trust before the next disaster so that people know what to do when you tell them to take shelter, evacuate, or not worry....Even if they are trusted, public information officers also must know that some people in their area may need to get urgent messages differently - because of special needs or other factors."
• In the space between: public information officers in science (Bethann Garramon Merkle, Marty Downs, and Annaliese Hettinger, Exploring Ecological Careers, The Ecological Society of America, 10-1-19) "Whether coming from science (as MD has), or from communications and education (as BGM did), being a PIO provides opportunities to stretch our brains around enormously challenging concepts and see the key click in the lock when we make them understandable to others. PIOs get to bring attention to science that is both delightful and important; to taste the best, most interesting moments of scientific discovery; and – every now and then – to help connect communities."
• Push or Pull: Recommendations and Alternative Approaches for Public Science Communicators (Catherine V. Schmitt, Science and Environmental Communication, Frontiers in Communication, 4-3-18) How science communication professionals can do the work that news writers cannot. Offers some best practices for press releases, and presents examples of other “pull” approaches to communicating science that more closely align with both the process of science and with the interests and values of public audiences. "Supporting the idea that a scientific paper or research finding represents a conclusion or aha! discovery of some kind has been called one of the biggest failures of science reporting....The “production infrastructure” of the news media is asynchronous with science: episodic instead of chronic, short instead of long, urgent instead of cautious....So, when does it make sense to push a communication?"
• A veteran science communicator’s guidelines for PR news releases on medical research (Earle Holland, Health News Review, 11-28-18) Eight principles that represent a blueprint for public information officers to consider when reporting on their research--to offer a fair and honest assessment of discoveries, unembellished by the desires of institutions to polish their image-- and to avoid being embarrassed as the University of Maryland was over its chocolate milk-concussion fiasco, or the University of Iowa over its claims that oregano can affect the cancer-wasting syndrome.
• For successful information requests, be familiar with guidelines for HHS public affairs staff (Irene M. Wielawski, Covering Health, AHCJ, 7-27-17)
• Public information officers (Society of Professional Journalists) Who they are, why they're a problem for journalists and the public, and what we're doing about it. Lots of links to resources on this page.
• Resolution No. 2: Calling on Journalists to Oppose the Mandated Clearance Culture "WHEREAS the Society recognizes the legitimate need for organizations to withhold certain information for legal or proprietary reasons; WHEREAS, nevertheless, SPJ has clearly stated in previous resolutions its concerns regarding the harm done by restrictions on access, including mandates that reporters always go through PIOs"... "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that journalists should resist official efforts to make reporters nothing more than stenographers and openly oppose restrictions on access."
A problem for journalists these days, especially those covering the federal government, is that many agencies insist that journalists go through public information officers (PIOs) to interview government staff. This layer of bureaucracy slows down and often seems an effort to divert the open flow of information. Maybe it's the lawyers who are advising: Be careful what you say, fearing litigation? Some of the following pieces are about the roadblocks to open communication with the public that journalists are experiencing. It's YOUR government. Demand the open flow of information that helps define a democracy.
Included here are a few stories about conflicts that arise when science journalists and public information officers (PIOs) belong in the same organization, because their professional obligations don't align, even though they both want accurate communication of science.
---A Looming Rift in Science Journalism (Aleszu Bajak, Undark, 5-27-16) The issue: Should anyone among the more than 2,300 dues-paying members of the National Association of Science Writers – "which has grown to include not just reporters and editors, but communications personnel representing a range of academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits" – be allowed to serve on the organization's board? Journalists and public information officers (PIOs) "have a common interest in accurately communicating science to the public, [but] they can often have competing agendas." By name, it is an organization of "science writers," not "science journalists," and PIOs make up a substantial part of the membership. But, some argue, a PIO whose paycheck comes from Bureau X might have a conflict of interest weighing in on a public discussion of right or wrongdoing in Bureau X. On the other hand, NASW is able to afford many more activities beneficial to members because of the dues paid by PIOs and the organizations that employ them. (This is true for other science writers organizations as well.) Do a search on "science writers" and "PIOs" for more such pieces on an interesting issue with good arguments on both sides of the issue.] See, for example, The Medical/P.R.Writer: A Troubling Chimera in Science Newsrooms (NASW newsletter, Spring 1989)
---NASW Has Changed. Its Leadership Policy Should Too. (Rick Borchelt, Undark, 10-25-16) For the National Association of Science Writers to remain inclusive, its leadership policy must adapt to reflect its changing membership. Since 1998 public information officers (PIOs) and journalists are equal dues-paying members of the National Association of Science Writers, except that "Only bona fide journalists may serve as officers (that is, president, vice president, secretary or treasurer) within NASW." This, it is argued, ignores the reality that "to survive in this changed world, many science writers — including many excellent former journalists — need to avail themselves of support not just from journalism but from a variety of sources of income." He believes NASW should end what he calls a “caste system.”A "shrinking minority" of members "identify as journalists." "And there is plenty to do to cultivate and nurture science writing that can be productively addressed by a professional organization whose members are able to put aside their hats as journalists, freelancers, PIOs, educators, or authors, and come together to focus on the challenges of science communication."
---Opposing a bylaws change at the National Association of Science Writers (Maryn McKenna, Medium, Oct. 2018) An organization that professes journalism principles should be led by journalists
---The Other Big Vote: The Future of Science Journalism (Seth Mnookin, Undark, 10-25-16) Members of the National Association of Science Writers will decide this weekend whether or not to allow public relations officials to become officers of the group, and not just board members. "What is true is that journalists and PIOs have different roles and responsibilities — and that those responsibilities affect the ways in which we are able to speak out in public." "This type of multi-tiered membership is not unusual among journalism organizations."
---Do PIOs need science journalists any more? (Tanya Lewis, ScienceWriters meeting coverage, NASW, 10-28-12) A panel discussion that illuminates how science is covered.
---The Medical/P.R. Writer: A Troubling Chimera in Science Newsrooms? by David Zimmerman. Scroll down for his piece "Representing Whose Interest?"
• A Journalist's Guide to the Federal Courts
• AHCJ, HHS officials address appeal process for inadequate responses by PIOs (Irene M. Wielawski, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-30-14)
• Science Journalists Vs. Public Information Officers (Paul Raeburn, Undark, 6-1-16) Despite recent disagreements over who should control the professional group to which they both belong, the battle ended decades ago. Do read the comments and all these articles.
• Guidelines on the Provision of Information to News Media (HHS, January 2017)
• HHS Public Affairs Contacts
• PIO Censorship in the Era of Trump (Kathryn Foxhall, Sunshine Week, American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 3-13-17)
• A Looming Rift in Science Journalism (Aleszu Bajak, Cross Sections, UnDark, 5-27-16) A new report suggests that a roiling debate may tear apart one of the country’s oldest professional journalistic organizations.
• How Journalists Can Help Hold Scientists Accountable (Michael Schulson, Pacific Standard, 3-22-16)
• Survey: Journalists Report Impediments by Federal Public Information Officers (Society of Professional Journalists, 3-12-12) An online survey of 146 Washington, D.C.-area reporters in February indicated overwhelming frustration from journalists trying to interview federal employees or get basic information for the public. The survey was conducted by SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee.
• Public Information Officers, various pieces about PIOs. (National Association of Science Writers)
• The seven deadly sins of the science PIO (and how to avoid them) (Amanda Mascarelli, NASW, 10-16-11)
• Embargo on press releases, rationale for (PLoS). Breaking an embargo is a journalistic no-no, with good reason.
• Embargo Watch (Ivan Oransky, keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage)
• Embargoes and more: How to get my attention (and attention from other journalists) in a wired world (Ivan Oransky's tips at a Council of Science Editors meeting, 2011), which leads to Oransky's interesting explanation and criticism of the Ingelfinger Rule ("the policy by which journals refuse to publish anything that’s appeared in the mainstream press or in other journals" though they still publish authors who self-plagiarize).
• The worst abuse of an embargo this medical journalist has ever seen (Larry Husten, KevinMD, 9-12-11)
• Writers’ conflicts of interest get airing at ScienceWriters2019 (Alla Katsnelson, NASW, 11-16-19)
• On Science Journalism and Conflicts of Interest (Brooke Borel, Popular Science, 10-20-15) Borel advises: Ask where money offered to you is coming from, think how that might be perceived, consider whether taking the money would influence your objectivity, and "disclose, disclose, disclose."
• Where do science journalists draw the line? (Paul D. Thacker, CJR, 11-23-15) "While issues of journalistic ethics aren’t new, the debate has become contentious recently in the world of science journalism. One key reason is a push by industry to combat the labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMO). Advocates for labeling, who think coverage has been too favorable toward industry, have fought back by questioning the independence of journalists covering GMOs.: Thacker recounts what happened to Brooke Borel (see previous entry). Standards vary greatly across media, as Thacker illustrates.
• Side Effects | Money, Medicine, and Patients Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel's many investigations have revealed the troubling influence of drug companies on American medicine. The stories have looked at conflicts of interest, flawed science and shoddy oversight by federal regulators – from back surgery products to the use of opioids to treat long-term pain. Highlights of and links to a long series of articles.
• Full disclosure: It’s time for health care journalists to report their sources’ conflicts of interest (Jeanne Lenzer, HealthNewsReview, 4-18) "The March 26 New York Times article was written by Gina Kolata and headlined, “For many strokes, there’s an effective treatment. Why aren’t some doctors offering it?” The Times asserts that close to 700,000 stroke patients a year “could be helped” by the clot-busting drug tPA. There is no ambiguity in the language, even though ten of twelve clinical trials not only found no benefit for tPA, but did reveal significant increases in brain bleeds, a side effect of tPA....would readers have been so quick to embrace this story’s point of view–had they known that the experts expressing support for the drug have financial and professional conflicts of interest?"
• Uncovering new peer review problems – this time at The BMJ (Kevin Lomangino, HealthNewsReview, 4-18-18) 'Melissa S. Anderson said that even if these reviewers provided an accurate assessment of the science, the fact that they are close collaborators of the authors casts significant doubt on their conclusions. “If it looks bad, it’s a conflict of interest.”'
• Federal Agency Courted Alcohol Industry to Fund Study on Benefits of Moderate Drinking (Roni Caryn Rabin, NY Times, 3-17-18) Scientists and National Institute of Health officials waged a concerted campaign to obtain funding from the alcohol industry for research that may enshrine alcohol as a part of a healthy diet. The 10-year government trial is now underway, and Anheuser Busch InBev, Heineken and other alcohol companies are picking up most of the tab, through donations to a private foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health. The documents and interviews show that the institute waged a vigorous campaign to court the alcohol industry, paying for scientists to travel to meetings with executives, where they gave talks strongly suggesting that the study’s results would endorse moderate drinking as healthy. The fund-raising may have violated N.I.H. policy, which prohibits employees from soliciting or suggesting donations, funds or other resources intended to support activities. At the least, the campaign is bound to raise more questions about the independence of the investigators and the scientific integrity of the huge trial. See earlier story: A Massive Health Study on Booze, Brought to You by Big Alcohol (Miriam Schuchman, Wired, 10-26-17) "The Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health study, now in progress on four continents, is poised to be a breakthrough in public health: the first time that researchers have followed a group of people randomized to receive a daily drink or nothing at all....The study has its origin, strangely enough, in tea. Back in 2006, researchers thought tea drinkers might have fewer heart attacks....After six months, they ran the numbers: Tea had virtually no effect on a person’s cardiovascular risk."
• Big Booze helped plan $100 million NIH study on alcohol–here’s how they’ve also tried to influence journalists (Kevin Lomangino, HealthNewsReview.org, 3-19-18) News of federal researchers courting liquor company executives for funding leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many who care about the quality and independence of science at the National Institutes of Health. See earlier story, also: Alcohol industry isn’t just funding studies; it’s also funding journalism to sway public opinion (Gary Schwitzer, HealthNewsReview, 7-6-17)
• Scientific journals squabble over conflict-of-interest policies (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 6-15-15) One of the most important aspects of reporting on medical studies is identifying and making sense of researchers’ potential financial conflicts of interest. "A lengthy three-part series at the New England Journal of Medicine, introduced by NEJM editor Jeffrey Drazen, M.D., asks whether those sorts of financial conflict-of-interest policies and regulations are wise. Part I concludes with rhetorical questions regarding “appearances” of a conflict of interest, suggesting that “reasoned approaches to managing financial conflicts are eclipsed by cries of corruption even when none exists.” Part II explores ways of understanding bias. Part III, “Beyond Moral Outrage – Weighing the Trade-Offs of COI Regulation,” ask readers to vote on what a journal editor should do in three case studies. (Go to AHCJ story for links.)
• Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant (Danny Hakim, Business Day, NY Times, 12-31-16) With corporate funding of research, "There's no scientist who comes out of this unscathed."
• Conflicts of Interest, Authorship, and Disclosures in Industry-Related Scientific Publications: The Tort Bar and Editorial Oversight of Medical Journal (Laurence J. Hirsch, MD, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Sep. 2009, as posted on PMC, Public Library of Medicine)
• Uncovering conflicts of interest in medicine, research (John Fauber, AHCJ, 3-18-10)
• Patient Advocacy Groups Take In Millions From Drugmakers. Is There A Payback? (Emily Kopp, Sydney Lupkin, and Elizabeth Lucas. KHN, 4-6-18) KHN launches “Pre$cription for Power,” a groundbreaking database to expose Big Pharma’s ties to patient groups. Unlike payments to doctors and lobbying expenses, companies do not have to report payments to the patient advocacy groups. Bristol-Myers Squibb provides a stark example of how patient groups are valued. In 2015, it spent more than $20.5 million on patient groups, compared with $2.9 million on federal lobbying and less than $1 million on major trade associations, according to public records and company disclosures....Recipients of donations from pharmaceutical firms include well-known disease groups, like the American Diabetes Association, with revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars; high-profile foundations like Susan G. Komen, a patient group focused on breast cancer; and smaller, lesser-known groups, like the Caring Ambassadors Program, which focuses on lung cancer and hepatitis C.
• Nonprofit Linked To PhRMA Rolls Out Campaign To Block Drug Imports (Emily Kopp and Rachel Bluth, KHN, 4-19-17) A nonprofit organization that has orchestrated a wide-reaching campaign against foreign drug imports has deep ties to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the powerhouse lobbying group that includes Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Bayer.A PhRMA senior vice president, Scott LaGanga, for 10 years led the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a nonprofit that has recently emerged as a leading voice against Senate bills that would allow drug importation from Canada.
• When Conflict-of-Interest is a Factor in Scientific Misconduct (PDF, Sheldon Krimsky, MedLaw 2007) Includes section on Ghostwriting as Misconduct.
• Conflicts of interest in health care journalism. Who’s watching the watchdogs? We are. Part 1 of 3 (Gary Schwitzer, HealthNewsReview, 6-12-17) WCSJ accepted $400,000 in support from drug company Johnson & Johnson and another $50,000 from drug company Bayer. Three news organizations (STAT, Vox, NPR) accepted PhRMA sponsorship--and though they might not have been influenced by such a conflict of interest, the perceived conflict pollutes the stream of health care journalism. "Instead of taking drug company money, have these organizations pursued other sponsors that have health-related product lines that they’d like to advertise? FitBit, Nike or any other sports shoe/sportswear manufacturer, LifeTimeFitness or any other fitness center chain?" Sponsors can influence medical news decision-making above your head.
• Part 2 of 3. Time for world's top health journalism organization to reconsider fundraising practices. "AHCJ states that its educational arm, the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, won’t take money from pharmaceutical companies, device makers, insurers or even most advocacy groups such as the American Cancer Society. That strict standard distinguishes AHCJ from some other journalism training organizations, which have no qualms about accepting money from companies that journalists routinely report on. But the association routinely solicits significant funds from academic medical centers in order to support its annual conferences, and that poses a conflict of interest....The important thing is for AHCJ to separate fundraising from conference programming, similar to how news organizations separate advertising and editorial functions. If outside organizations work with AHCJ on programming, whether money changes hands or not, that should be disclosed as a collaboration."
• Part 3 of 3. Conflicts of interest in health care journalism: VIDEO with our publisher about “an unhealthy state of things” (Part 3 of 3) See The trail of tainted funding: Conflicts of interest in healthcare, academics, public relations and journalism (a roundup of HealthNewsReview.org links to stories about conflict of interest)
Journalists should understand the "Hierarchy of Evidence Pyramid" and know when not to generalize from items low on the pyramid (picture these forming a pyramid):
Randomized controlled double-blind studies
Case control studies
In vitro (test tube) research
Ideas, editorials, opinions
That's on page 10 of Covering Medical Research: A Guide for Reporting on Studies (PDF, Association of Health Care Journalists, 2009). Then read on!
• Terms used in medical studies (Glossary, Association of Health Care Journalists)
• How to Read a Scientific Paper (Alexandra Witze, The Open Notebook, NASW, 11-6-18) Scientific papers provide crucial information and sources for many, if not most, science stories. But they can be frustratingly dense and inscrutable, especially for new science writers who don't have a background in science. Witze lays out, step-by-step, how to tackle a scientific paper. See more Open Notebook stories about science journalism.
• How to Vet Industry PR Claims (Knvul Sheikh, The Open Notebook, 3-26-19) Science journalists are not just storytellers. They serve as watchdogs, too, informing readers about everything from the environmental impact of space delivery capsules to product launches of drugs that might end up in your medicine cabinet. When story leads slip into our inboxes in the form of press releases, how do reporters sift through the PR claims and,verify information? Four journalists discuss the problem: Nidhi Subbaraman (Buzzfeed), Hal Hodson (The Economist). Sarah Scoles (freelance, Wired, Popular Science), Emily Hayes (Scrip and Pink Sheet, pharmaceutical industry publications). "The statements that companies make—often cloaked in impenetrable business jargon that barely means anything at all—aim to advance a narrative that’s good for business, even if it’s misleading...And I’m (slightly) more skeptical of government press releases than I am of academic ones. Federal agencies and organizations have a long history of obscuring information they don’t want the public to know about, or slanting true information they do release to avoid upsetting people or making themselves look bad," says Scoles.
• Association vs Causation: Observational Studies -- Does the language fit the evidence? (Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto, HealthNewsReview) When studies find an association between two things, it does NOT mean that one thing caused the other to happen. Observational studies are useful for identifying trends but do not demonstrate cause and effect. "A subtle trap occurs in the transition from the cautious, nondirectional, noncausal, passive language that scientists use in reporting the results of observational studies to the active language favored in mass media. Active language is fine in general – who wants to write like a scientist? But problems can arise when the use of causal language is not justified by the study design. For example, a description of an association (e.g., associated with reduced risk) can become, via a change to the active voice (reduces risk), an unwarranted description of cause and effect."
• Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data (UW iSchool, YouTube videos of 56 lectures on such topics as Sounds Too Good to Be True, Entertain Multiple Hypotheses, Fermi Estimations, Unfair Comparisons, Spurious Correlaitons.
• Observational Studies – Does The Language Fit The Evidence? – Association Versus Causation (Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto, Health News Review) "Because observational studies are not randomized, they cannot control for all of the other inevitable, often unmeasurable, exposures or factors that may actually be causing the results. Thus, any link between cause and effect in observational studies is speculative at best....A subtle trap occurs in the transition from the cautious, nondirectional, noncausal, passive language that scientists use in reporting the results of observational studies to the active language favored in mass media." "An important part of reporting results of research in health news lies in attention to language that may in subtle ways imply cause-and-effect relationships, where the underlying study design does not warrant such language. We urge health care journalists to be mindful of when causal language is warranted by the study design and when it is not." A must-read for journalists.
• Journalists: 9 tips to combat stem cell hype in your news stories (Joy Victory, HealthNewsReview, 6-27-16) "Given that so much of stem cell research is in the early phase–where things like basic safety are still being established–it’s rare that any sort of big, bold statements are acceptable....The onus is on journalists to be careful when using words like “breakthrough, paradigm shift, revolution, cure, and game-changer”–even when this language comes from scientists, peer-reviewed abstracts, studies and institutional news releases. And be wary of single-anecdote news stories.... It’s important for journalists to establish exactly what a study was primarily trying to find out (is it safe for rats?), and not be distracted by exciting secondary endpoints (did it help the rats get better?)....Understand the difference between clinical endpoints (are they relevant to a patient’s care?) and surrogate endpoints."
• A primer on composite outcomes (Kevin Lomangino, HealthNewsReview) Distinguish between clinically significant end points and secondary end points. "It’s increasingly clear that surrogate endpoints don’t tell the entire story when it comes to a treatment’s effectiveness....we learned that a drug which raises cholesterol (a surrogate for cardiovascular disease risk) had no effect on the incidence of heart attacks and strokes."
• HealthNewsReview.org rates health and medical news stories (about medical treatments, tests, products and procedures) for accuracy, balance, and completeness -- helping consumers critically analyze claims about health care interventions
• 5 things to keep in mind when fact-checking claims about science (Alexios Mantzarlis, Poynter, 11-5-15)
• SciCheck(launched by FactCheck.org) focuses exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy
• How scientists fool themselves – and how they can stop (Regina Nuzzo, Nature, 10-7-15) Focuses on four common cognitive fallacies that undermine the scientific process, from “hypothesis myopia” to the “Texas sharpshooter,” from "asymmetric attention" to "just-so storytelling."
• Climate Feedback(a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in climate change media coverage--to help readers know which news to trust)
• 4 essential questions to ask about scientific studies (Poynter) Not the usual questions. #4: Has anyone on the team changed a behavior based on the research findings? Why or why not?
• Here’s How Cornell Scientist Brian Wansink Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies About How We Eat (Stephanie M. Lee, BuzzFeed News, 2-25-18) Brian Wansink won fame, funding, and influence for his science-backed advice on healthy eating. Now, emails show how the Cornell professor and his colleagues have hacked and massaged low-quality data into headline-friendly studies to “go virally big time.”
• HNR's ten important review criteria, explained (for example, Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention? Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure? Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention? Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence? Does the story commit disease-mongering? Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest? Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives? Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure? Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach? Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release? (Sample HealthNewsReview.org warning: "This story is pretty much a rewrite of a drug-company or medical center news release.") On the same page you will find review criteria for news releases, which includes additional comments: Does the news release identify funding sources & disclose conflicts of interest? Does the news release include unjustifiable, sensational language, including in the quotes of researchers?
• Scientists hold key to winning fight against 'fake news' (Navaneeth Mohan, Phys.org. 5-25-18) Lessons from NASA's Kelly twins report: Make sure the people writing your reports and releases get the science solidly right.
• When research findings don’t agree (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource, Shorenstein Center, 1-25-18) Two studies published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in January 2017 probed the same question: Which factors are the main contributors to disparities in cancer survival? Though the studies shared a common aim, they reached different conclusions about the main factors that contribute to disparities in cancer survival.. One attributed survival differences to the stage at which patients were diagnosed. The other concluded insurance status is the primary factor involved. Dr. Lauren Wallner of the University of Michigan offers advice on making sense of divergent findings in academic research. Linked to in this piece:
---Helping Patients Decide: Ten Steps to Better Risk Communication (Angela Fagerlin Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher Peter A. Ubel, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 10-5-11)
---The Right Tool is What They Need, Not What We Have: A Taxonomy of Appropriate Levels of Precision In Patient Risk Communication (Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, Deep Blue, 9-6-12) Download PDF.
---STROBE Statement: Strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology
• How do you know if a research study is any good? (David Levine captures advice given by three panelists--Bonnie D. Kerker, Carolyn 'Cari' Olson, and Ivan Oransky--at the second joint meeting of Science Writers in New York (SWINY), Elsevier, 12-11-12) For example: Carolyn Olson: ‘To evaluate a study, you need context.’ Dr. Bonnie Kerker: ‘How meaningful is this study?’ She noted that although Randomized controlled trials are considered the gold standard, it is very difficult to do an RCT in public health. To detect risk factors associated with disease, public health researchers are more likely to conduct a prospective cohort study. Dr. Ivan Oransky (“Evaluating Medical Evidence for Journalists”), warned journalists to make sure they understand the studies they write about — and to be willing to question the methods or findings. “Writing about a study after reading just a press release on abstract, without reading the entire paper, is journalistic malpractice,” he said.
• ‘Ultra-processed’ foods and cancer: Headlines show the right way, and the wrong way, to frame study results (Kevin Lomangino, HealthNewsReview, 2-15-18) Today’s headlines on ultra-processed foods and cancer offer a good case study in the right way — and the wrong way — to frame the results of an observational study about diet and the risk of disease. Too many headlines overstate the findings of observational studies, a mainstay of nutrition research.
• Retraction Watch offers some transparency about transparency (AHCJ) In the years since its inception, Retraction Watch has documented hundreds of troubled scientific papers that were eventually retracted, as well as other related controversies. Founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus have learned a lot in that time about following up on retractions, errors or other problematic aspects of scientific research. The authors mention:
---The Office of Research Integrity (ORI), U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services. Contact them if you suspect science fraud or scientific misconduct "(or go directly to the universities and oversight organizations who would do the investigating. Give 'research integrity officers, or the equivalent, at the institutions where the authors in question work; the head start instead of the authors suspected of misconduct."
---PubPeer. When a paper smells a little off, check PubPeer "where commenters can anonymously post about a published work. This could be particularly helpful for a reporter covering a study that isn’t embargoed. It only takes a moment to stop at PubPeer and do a quick search to see what’s been said about a paper you’re writing about or using in research."
• One bad stat can spoil the bunch – another cautionary tale (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 7-21-17)
• Meet the ‘data thugs’ out to expose shoddy and questionable research (Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch, Science, 2-14-18) Data whistleblowers Nick Brown and James Heathers,have helped start a conversation about publicly confronting potentially problematic results in science journals and have had some success in getting journals to act. They say just about anyone with rudimentary math skills and a willingness to go public could replicate what they are doing. So why aren’t more scientists following suit? Says Heathers, "In short, peer review misses all the hard stuff, and a worrying amount of the easy stuff."
• Headline vs. study: Sometimes fishy, sometimes pulling a rabbit out of a hat (Michael Joyce, HealthNewsReview.org, 5-14-18) Too often news releases or news stories about research misguide people because the headline promises more than the content delivers--8 of 14 headlines overstate evidence (3 examples given).
• Writing & Publishing a Scientific Paper (YouTube, Jennifer Cullen, ScienceDocs consultant, 8-6-18)
• The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete (James Somers, The Atlantic, 4-5-18) Scientific papers haven't changed much since they their origins in the 1600s. Now they are long, full of jargon and symbols, dependent on "chains of computer programs that generate data, and clean up data, and plot data, and run statistical models on data. These programs tend to be both so sloppily written and so central to the results that it’s contributed to a replication crisis, or put another way, a failure of the paper to perform its most basic task: to report what you’ve actually discovered, clearly enough that someone else can discover it for themselves." What comes next?
• Caffeine and Parkinson’s: One researcher, two studies, and opposite results. What happens? (Michael Joyce, HealthNewsReview, 9-29-17) Journalists should consider how they frame the results of "preliminary" studies, and whether they should be more selective about which studies get promoted in the first place. People often take preliminary results as the truth and act on them, but they are often overturned.
• The March of Science — The True Story (Lisa Rosenbaum, New England Journal of Medicine, 2017; 377:188-191, 7-13-17). Required reading. As Norman Bauman summarizes, "journalists should include the strength of evidence in their stories. That's even more important than 'who paid for the study?' We should distinguish controlled studies, which can demonstrate causality, from associational studies, which can never demonstrate causality." Rosenbaum says scientists should frame scientific findings "more effectively to signal their degree of uncertainty and thus enduring credibility." "... the media could preface any new finding with what the literature says, on balance, about the topic in question; readers might then understand that any marked aberration is less likely to be true." She makes several important points, including this one: "in a polarized society, what we really need to resist may be human nature — this impulse to believe what we want to believe....Asked to evaluate the evidence’s quality and persuasiveness [when two studies were compared], participants rated research that contradicted their prior beliefs poorly in both respects, and unexpectedly, exposure to it resulted in more, not less, polarization between the two groups." [Examples: climate science and nutrition science.] Psychologist Daniel Wegner Wegner "described two fundamental impulses driving scientific progress: 'We must know the truth' and 'We must avoid error.'...If we go overboard in either direction, though , we risk a field that is not knowledgeable at all.” And "although communicating science’s dynamic by focusing heavily on its failings risks heightening public disbelief, the remedy is not to hide our errors. Such suppression will 'rebound' and undoubtedly fuel further distrust. Instead, I think we have to learn to tell stories that emphasize that what makes science right is the enduring capacity to admit we are wrong. Such is the slow, imperfect march of science." She points out that to communicate with the public you have to tell a good story.
• Breakthrough research reveals parachutes don’t prevent death when jumping from a plane (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 2-26-19) "If most people already think an intervention works, then a randomly controlled trial (RCT) may end up with enough bias in its design that the conclusion ends up clinically meaningless. Sometimes, an RCT is truly unethical, and other times an RCT really might be needed to test an intervention taken for granted. Health journalists should scrutinize an RCT’s methods closely."
• The American Heart Association Evidence-Based Scoring System. The American Diabetes Association also has an "evidence grading system."
• How Two Studies on Cancer Screening Led to Two Results (H. Gilbert Welch, Steven Woloshin, and Lisa M. Schwartz, NY Times, 3-13-07). A crystal-clear explanation of how two studies — in the country’s two most prestigious medical journals — arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions. A screening that increases survival rates does not necessarily reduce mortality -- it could have started measuring at an early age. And because all lung cancer patients get treated, overdiagnosis means some people receive treatment that can’t help them (because they do not need it) and can only cause harm. Dr. Welch is the author of Should I Be Tested for Cancer?: Maybe Not and Here's Why. As one reader writes, "Even when a treatment can cut the deaths from a particular cancer in half, most current treatments create non-cancer deaths, many of which will be improperly reported."
• Resveratrol Redux, Or: Should I Just Stop Writing About Health? (Virginia Hughes, Only Human, a Phenomena Science Salon blog, 5-12-16) But when it comes to writing health stories, it’s hard — really, really hard — to include that slow scientific progression [natural in science] in a way that a reader will absorb. And I think that’s because readers don’t seek out health stories to satisfy abstract intellectual curiosities. They want to glean some kind of practical knowledge. See also The Problems of Health Journalism (Storify-ed).
• Sharon Begley’s Brief Guide to Writing Medical News (The Open Notebook, 2-2-16) How can you separate findings that are likely to be true from those destined for the dustbin of science? She links to (and explains succinctly) False positive mammograms and cancer risk: An epidemiological whodunit (Saurabh Jha, HealthNewsReview, 12-23-15)
• Why Most Published Research Findings Are False (John P. A. Ioannidis,PLoS Medicine, 8-30-05) When is a research finding more or less likely to be true (or false)?
• Drinking alcohol key to living past 90? What you need to know (Michael Joyce, HealthNewsReview, 2-21-18) Here’s a recipe for misinformation: Take two topics well known to generate clicks: alcohol and longevity. Find a study that suggests alcohol increases longevity. Fail to mention the study is observational but still emphasize cause-and-effect language in your headline. Here’s what you get: Drinking Alcohol Key to Living Past 90. Clickbait.
• Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show (Eric Lipton, NY Times, 9-5-15)
• Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets (Anahad O'Connor, Fitness blog, NY Times, 8-9-15)
• 64 more papers retracted for fake reviews, this time from Springer journals (Retraction Watch). One of many, which you can find on the Retraction Watch site.
• A new record: Major publisher (Springer) retracting more than 100 studies from cancer journal over fake peer reviews (Retraction Watch)
• Randomized trials are no panacea for what ails nutrition research (Reijo Laatikainen, HealthNewsReview, 8-26-15). Randomized controlled trials are the "gold standard" for evidence, but researchers face pressure to design their studies in a way that increases the likelihood of observing a positive result. ("Studies with positive results are more likely to get published in authoritative journals. And publication in authoritative journals leads to funding, prestige, and career advancement for researchers.") Adherence to the trial by participants is far from complete. And when participants can guess which part of the trial they are in, there may be a placebo effect for what they consume. And those are just some of the problems.
• You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition (Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight Science, 1-6-16) "...short of locking people in a room and carefully measuring out all their meals, it’s hard to know exactly what people eat. So nearly all nutrition studies rely on measures of food consumption that require people to remember and report what they ate. The most common of these are food diaries, recall surveys and the food frequency questionnaire, or FFQ." But recalling what you ate is difficult, perceptions of serving size differ, people underreport foods deemed unhealthy, reporting what you eat changes how you eat while reporting it, etc. "observational studies using memory-based measures of dietary intake are" too crude as tools with which to generalize what's good or bad for you.
• How the sausage inside a nutrition study is made (Kevin Lomangino, HealthNewsReview, 1-6-16) Christie Aschwanden's piece (above) makes points HNR often makes: 1. Questionnaire-based nutrition data are inaccurate. 2. “Positive” results are often false-positives. 3. Correlation doesn’t equal causation. 4. Benefits are overstated through reporting of relative risks.
• Against Stigma: Writing Responsibly About Mental Illness (Emily DePrang, Reporting on Health blog, 4-2-14). Write about mental illness more regularly and outside of a criminal context. There are plenty of fascinating stories.
• “Thousands of lives lost”? Why calls for faster drug approvals need more scrutiny HealthNewsReview)
• All about Stories: How to Tell Them, How They’re Changing, and What They Have to Do with Science (Lena Groeger, Scientific American, 6-6-11, reporting on the World Science Festival)
• Author list on a scientific paper (Jorge Cham comic, PhD Comics)
• Award-winning articles on health and medicine (Association of Health Care Journalists)
• Four steps for effective science communication (Baruch Fischhoff, Sci Dev Net) "The first step is to identify the uncertainties and questions that matter to the audience." "Scientists should adopt a systematic approach to explaining what they do, and do not, know."
• Naming names: is there an (unbiased) doctor in the house? (Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee, Medicine and the Media, BMJ, 7-23-08) In an attempt to disentangle commercial messages from science, they compiled a list of nearly 100 independent medical experts to whom reporters can turn. See List of Industry-Independent Experts (Health News Review)
• Spin happens: How we cover medical studies affects readers’ attitude toward results (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 9-13-19) A study of Google Health News stories found that 88% of stories about medical studies had at least some type of spin, such as misleading reporting or interpretation, omitting adverse events, suggesting animal study results apply to humans, or claiming causation in studies that only reported associations. The way we cover a study has impact — potentially both positive and negative — and that means we have a responsibility get it right.
• Tips for Understanding Animal and Lab Studies (HealthNewsReview)
• Tips for understanding studies
• Story Reviews - Systematic, Criteria-Driven
• Industry-Independent Experts Journalists Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer's list of more than 100 independent health care experts (meaning they do not have financial ties to drug or medical device manufacturers) to whom reporters can turn
• Covering Medical Research (by HealthNewsReview.org publisher Gary Schwitzer; published by the Association of Health Care Journalists)
• Links to other resources
• Health News Watchdog blog (publisher's perspective, opinion--different from the systematic story reviews
• What is real-world evidence, and why do we need it? (sponsored content on STAT). Social media is also emerging as a platform for patients to share information about their experiences with particular treatments. While there are concerns about using this information, given it is not being exchanged in a clinical setting, we can learn from these aggregated data about how patients are responding (or not), who may have been excluded from clinical trials, and who are currently on the treatment of interest. Advances in social media are helping us to capture more about the patient journey and more specifically what patients need or want when it comes to what a drug does for them.
• Priggish NEJM Editorial on Data-sharing Misses the Point It Almost Made (Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire, 1-24-16).
• The TOP Guidelines were created by journals, funders, and societies to align scientific ideals with practices. (Center for Open Science) TOP provides a suite of tools to guide implementation of better, more transparent research
• Journals’ instructions to authors: A cross-sectional study across scientific disciplines (Mario Malički, IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg,Lex Bouter, and Gerben ter Riet, PLoS One, 9-5-19) "In light of increasing calls for transparent reporting of research and prevention of detrimental research practices, we conducted a cross-sectional machine-assisted analysis of a representative sample of scientific journals’ instructions to authors (ItAs) across all disciplines. We investigated addressing of 19 topics related to transparency in reporting and research integrity." And address the topics: Conflicts of interest, COPE, data sharing, errata, ethics approval, ICMJE (their recommendations, such as trial registration), image manipulation, study limitations, null or negative results, Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID), type of peer review, screening for plagiarism, preprints allowed, replication, reporting guidelines required or recommended, shared authorship, TOP Guidelines mentioned.
• Retraction Watch offers some transparency about transparency (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 1-8-16)
• Research integrity: Don't let transparency damage science (Stephan Lewandowsky & Dorothy Bishop, Nature, 1-25-16) How to distinguish scrutiny from harassment. "Many measures that can improve science — shared data, post-publication peer review and public engagement on social media — can be turned against scientists....Orchestrated and well-funded harassment campaigns against researchers working in climate change and tobacco control are well documented, Some hard-line opponents to other research, such as that on nuclear fallout, vaccination, chronic fatigue syndrome or genetically modified organisms, although less resourced, have employed identical strategies."
• Announcement: Transparency upgrade for Nature journals (Nature, 3-15-17) The Nature journals continue journey towards greater rigour. [Search for transparency and publication names to find more entries like this.)
• What We Mean When We Say Evidence-Based Medicine (Aaron E. Carroll, NY Times, 12-27-17) People understand different things by this term, and the arguments don’t divide along predictable partisan lines, either.
• Bad Science (Ben Goldacre on how to spot good and bad science) Goldacre also provides a do-it-yourself way to learn about randomization and randomized trials at Randomise Me.
• Bring On the Transparency Index ( Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, The Scientist, 8-1-12). Grading journals on how well they share information with readers will help deliver accountability to an industry that often lacks it. See follow-up and comments here: The Retraction Watch Transparency Index.
• States with the Highest Cancer Rates (Betsy Ladyzhets, Stacker, 5-28-19) This slideshow format can break complicated scientific topics down into distinct, compelling segments.
• The Campbell Collaboration
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
• Centre for Evidence-Based medicine, provides education and training, and through its blog, articles and opinions for the public. See for example The Double-Edged Sword of the Evidence-Based Medicine Renaissance
• The Cochran Collaboration (evidence-based healthcare databases). See The Cochrane Collaboration might be “Medicine’s Best Kept Secret” (but it shouldn’t be for journalists) (HealthNewsReview). There is no better “context” for health care evidence than the body of 5,000 reviews in the Cochrane Library. The abstracts and plain language summaries of all Cochrane reviews are on their website. The in-depth reviews are made available free to journalists who belong to the Association of Healthcare Journalists and are also available at most university libraries.
• Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions
• Cochran Summaries (information to help you make choices about health care)
• Core Topic: Medical Studies (Association of Health Care Journalists) Guides for journalists on reporting, interpreting graphs, the peer review process, understanding bias and statistics, and media coverage.
• Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (NCBI)
• Epidemiology 101, Julie Buring's talk, video, in three parts, from Day 1 of Knight Science Journalism's popular Medical Evidence Boot Camp.
• Evidence-based health care and systematic reviews (The Cochrane Collaboration). "Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health."
• The Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) (University of London)
• Flossing and the Art of Scientific Investigation (Jamie Holmes, Gray Matter, NY Times, 11-25-16) It’s considered unethical to run randomized controlled trials without genuine uncertainty among experts regarding what works. And dentists know from a range of evidence, including clinical experience, that interdental cleaning is critical to oral health and that flossing, properly done, works. Yet the notion has taken hold that such expertise is fatally subjective and that only randomized controlled trials provide real knowledge. Many psychologists believe that dismissing a century of clinical observation and knowledge as anecdotal, as research-driven schools like cognitive behavioral therapy have sometimes done, has weakened the bonds between clinical discovery and scholarly evaluation. See also (Jeff Donn, AP, 8-2-16)
• Glossary of common terms (NIH)
• HealthNewsReview (grades health stories for quality of reporting and accuracy)
• Making Evidence Matter (EvidenceNetwork.Ca) Creates original media content on public policy topics for publication in the mainstream media and links journalists with policy experts to provide access to non-partisan, evidence-based information.
• Medicaid Evidence Based Decisions Project (MED) (a self governing collaboration of state Medicaid agencies and their partners--its mission: to provide policymakers with the tools and resources they need to make evidence-based decisions. (Includes links to reports.)
• MedLinePlus (trusted health information, U.S. National Library of Medicine)
• National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, UK) Browse by conditions and diseases, health protection, population groups, etc.
• NIH Clinical Research Trials and You (National Institutes of Health, aka NIH) Improving health and social care through evidence-based guidance
• The NNT A group of doctors is collecting "number needed to treat" statistics on a searchable website. NNT stands for "the number of patients a doctor needs to treat to help just one person" (AHCJ).
• NREPP (SAMHSA'S national registry of evidence-based programs and practices)
• Numbers and statistics glossary (Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice)
• PubMedCentral (the legacy version) and PubMed (with a new interface), with 26 million citations for biomedical literature from MedLine, life science journals, online books. But see:
• Something’s Rotten in Bethesda — The Troubling Tale of PubMed Central, PubMed, and eLife (Kent Anderson, Scholarly Kitchen, 10-22-12) and A Confusion of Journals: What Is PubMed Now? (Kent Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen, 9-7-17) PubMed may be consciously or unwittingly acting as a facilitator of predatory or unscrupulous publishing. PubMed's brand has long been muddled in ways that pass lower-quality works through the system under cover of prestige. This has real consequences...."the port of MEDLINE to PubMed was a smart move, and some interface changes have been commendable. At other times, these adaptations have revealed a clear lack of purpose and mission, such as the controversial involvement with eLife, the competition with publisher brands and traffic, and now the loose standards that have allowed unscrupulous publishers to enter PubMed via PMC."
• PubPeer (the online journal club). A website that allows users to discuss and review scientific research after publication. Discussions have highlighted shortcomings in several high-profile papers, in some cases leading to retractions and to accusations of scientific fraud. Comments must use only facts that can be verified. See PubPeer’s secret is out: Founder of controversial website reveals himself (Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Science, 8-31-15)
• ResearchImpact (turning research into action -- good research summaries on many topics)
• Retraction Watch (The Center for Scientific Integrity) Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process--reports on clinical studies retracted for plagiarism, fraud, and other reasons. See Retraction Watch FAQ, including comments policy.
• Sense About Science (charitable trust in UK, promoting good science and evidence for the public, partly by responding to misrepresentations about science)
• STAT (reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine)
• STAT Plus. Premium STAT subscription, $299 a year, or $29 a month, a " premium subscription that provides you with access to exclusive, in-depth pharma, biotech, business, and policy coverage, keeping you on top of what’s happening in the industry — as it happens." First month free.
• Webliography of resources for evidence-based health care (Cochran Collaboration links to books, articles, and online resources (sorted by specialty); databases offering online access to medical evidence; journals (etc.); medical news reviews (assessing the accuracy and quality of news reporting); patient resources; tutorials and tools; and social media resources.
• What Constitutes Peer Review of Data? A Survey of Peer Review Guidelines (Todd A Carpenter, The Scholarly Kitchen, 4-11-17)
• What is good evidence (Centre for Evidence Based Intervention (CEBI), includes links to "High-quality systematic and other research reviews" and answers questions: What is good evidence? How to use evidence, links to good evidence, links to tools for understanding evidence, research designs, and glossary.
"Statistics are like swimwear -- what they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital." ~-Ashish Mahajan, Lancet 2007
Covering Health Issues (6th edition, 2011 update, free PDF download). This 200-page book presents concise information on health policy issues, lists expert sources from across the political spectrum, and includes an extensive glossary, ideas and examples for TV and radio reporters, and links to polls on health issues. Chapter contents: Health reform, cost of health care, quality of care, employer-sponsored health coverage, children's health coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, disparities, mental health and substance abuse, public health, polls on health care issues, covering health issues for TV and radio, acronyms and glossary). Julie Rovner demonstrates how to use it (YouTube video). Reporters may find pages of links to organizations and experts particularly helpful.
• Health care reform, medical error, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) , links to many helpful articles about Obamacare
• Journalists learn about intricacies of prescription drug pricing (Liz Seegert, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists, 2-27-17) Why are drug costs so high in the United States? This and other questions were addressed at a meeting of the New York chapter of AHCJ. What can justify a "$50,000 cancer drug that extended life for an average of 17 days"? A helpful summary of what several experts explained about how we in the U.S. end up with exploitative prices on some drugs. Among points made (but do read the whole thing): (1) "It’s the doctor, not the patient, who decides what to prescribe. Our current system also rewards doctors for prescribing more expensive drugs. (2) Doctors are typically making those decisions with little information about cost . Now with more patients in high-deductible plans with a coinsurance model, there’s sticker shock and people are asking questions. (3) Nobody knows if we are spending the right amount on drugs, said Peter Bach, MD, director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcome. Moreover, we do not know if we are spending it on the right drugs, either. See Drugs, Big Pharma, conflicts of interest, and why U.S. patients pay too much for medication .
• Following criticism, PLOS removes blog defending scrutiny of science (Retraction Watch, Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process) Community blog PLOS Biologue has pulled a post by journalists Charles Seife and Paul Thacker that argued in favor of public scrutiny of scientists’ behavior (including emails), following heavy criticism, including from a group and scientist mentioned in the post.
• For successful information requests, be familiar with guidelines for HHS public affairs staff (Irene M. Wielawski, Covering Health, AHCJ, 7-27-15)
• Patient Advocacy in Patient Safety: Have Things Changed? (Helen Haskell, Perspective, June 2014, AHRQ, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). An important historical overview of patient safety efforts.
• Health Policy Reform: Beyond the 2008 Elections (The Commonwealth Fund), appeared originally in the Columbia Journalism Review
• CMS Special Open Door Forums
• Find low-cost Medicare plans, by state (eHealth)
• Medicaid and State Children''s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, Kaiser's useful website)
• State Health Facts, in several categories, by state (Kaiser Family Foundation--including information about Medicaid and CHIP)
• Medicaid Fact Sheets (by state, American Academy of Pediatrics)
• How one reporting team used public records to find questionable Medicare Advantage spending (Fred Schulte, Association of Health Care Journalists, AHCJ, 7-21-14). There's "there’s a lot federal officials don’t want the public to see when it comes to Medicare Advantage, a type of Medicare plan administered by private insurance companies." Schulte lists sources used in learning the flaw in Medicare's system of paying more for high-risk patients than for low-risk patients: health plans overstate how sick patients are to collect more money. See also Cracking the Codes:How doctors and hospitals have collected billions in questionable Medicare fees (Schulte and David Donald, Center for Public Integrity 9-15-12) on "how some medical professionals have billed at sharply higher rates than their peers and collected billions of dollars of questionable fees as a result."
• Covering the Uninsured: Options for Reform (Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, 9-15-08)
• Health Policy essentials (essential information about Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance & the uninsured, CHIP, the Safety Net, pharmaceuticals, public health, aging & long-term care, and workforce issues, in a variety of formats, from the National Health Policy Forum)
LINKS TO INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
(on sister site)
---Frequently asked questions about Medicare and Medicaid
---Medicare: What you need to know
---Part D: Medicare coverage of prescription drugs
---Medigap vs Medicare Advantage
---Medicare Compare etc. search pages
---Medicare issues and Medicare reform (and proposals)
---Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). ---Medicare and Medicaid: History and legislation ---Medicaid: What you need to know ---Medicaid issues and Medicaid reform
• New Analysis of Health Insurance Premium Trends in the Individual Market Finds Average Yearly Increases of 10 Percent or More Prior to the Affordable Care Act (The Commonwealth Fund, June 5, 2014) New Data Set Standard for Comparing This Year's Premiums in State and Federal Health Insurance Marketplaces
• The Employer Mandate: Essential or Dispensable? (David Blumenthal, M.D. and David Squires, Commonwealth Fund blog, 6-4-14)
• Residents in the ACA's Nonparticipating States Still Benefiting (David Blumenthal, M.D. and David Squires, Commonwealth Fund blog, 5-28-14)
• Growth and Variability in Health Plan Premiums in the Individual Insurance Market Before the Affordable Care Act
• The Federal Medical Loss Ratio Rule: Implications for Consumers in Year 2 (Commonwealth Fund)
• Despite ‘essential’ designation, dental benefits lacking under ACA (Mary Otto, AHCJ, Covering Health, 4-30-14)
• What early numbers tell us about kids’ dental coverage under ACA (Mary Otto, AHCJ, Covering Health, 4-16-14)
• Don't run biomedical science as a business (Michele Pagano, Nature, 7-25-17) “When science becomes a business, what matters is not the quality of the product, but whether it sells.”
• A closer look: Did the ACA result in more canceled plans? (Joanne Kenen, AHCJ, Covering Health, 4-29-14)
• Questions remain despite latest ACA enrollment numbers, projections (Joanne Kenen, AHCJ, Covering Health, 2-20-14)
• Looking ahead to new ACA enrollment numbers (Joanne Kenen, AHCJ, Covering Health, 5-1-14)
• Texas poses challenges for insurance enrollment under ACA (Joanne Kenen, AHCJ, Covering Health, 7-26-13)
• Tips from Texas for covering Medicaid fraud, overtreatment (Mary Otto, AHCJ, Covering Health, 6-5-14) MORE ON HEALTH REFORM (on sister site) ---The politics and policy issues of health care insurance and health care reform ---Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance Scroll down for several sections on health reform and the Affordable Care Act.
• Where Journalists Get Their Medical News (McNees, Writers and Editors blog)
• Can’t say we didn’t warn you: Study finds popular health news stories overstate the evidence (Joy Victory, HealthNewsReview, 6-13-18) Large disparities between research and news reports for 50 widely covered academic studies.
• Interviewing Sources about Traumatic Experiences (Sophie Hardach, The Open Notebook, 7-16-19) Straightforward advice, based on experience.
• Health News Review's ten health news criteria HNR systematically reviewed roughly 2,500 news stories after their debut in 2006. Here they explain the ten criteria that address the basic issues consumers need to know in order to develop informed opinions about these healthcare interventions–and how/whether they matter in their lives. 1. Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention? 2. Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the intervention? 3. Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention? 4. Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence? and so on. Below those ten criteria they explain those for health news press releases. PR directors, take note! Researchers, learn where the flaws in health news reports are.
• Tips for analyzing studies, medical evidence and health care claims (Health News Review) Links to an excellent series of tips, distinctions, conflicts of interest, and so on.
• Just for journalists: Tips and case studies for writing about health care
• Stories of health care sticker shock are everywhere. Will they change anything? (Kellie Schmitt, Center for Health Journalism, 6-11-18)
• 'How I Did It' articles (Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists) See also AHCJ's Slim Guides: Covering Medical Research, Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes, Navigating the CDC: A Journalist’s Guide to the CDC Web Site, Covering Obesity: A Guide for Reporters, Covering Health in a Multicultural Society, Covering Hospitals: Using Tools on the Web, Covering the Quality of Health Care: A Resource Guide for Journalists, and see old issues of HealthBeat.
• Newly merged infectious disease organization offers journalists’ resources (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, 8-14-18)
• Vox provides access to ER billing database for reporters (Pia Christensen, Covering Health, AHCJ, 2-21-19) Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) at Vox has been collecting emergency department bills from around the country and has reported a number of stories based on them. Vox has collected nearly 2,000 bills and is now ready to open up the database of bills to local health reporters. Kliff, a senior policy correspondent, says that Vox is hoping to connect reporters with patients who have interesting stories.
• Advice from a reporter experienced in interviewing people in stigmatized populations (Emily Willingham, Covering Health, AHCJ, 2-25-19) A how-she-did-it piece, related to her story for NPR: After Prison, Many People Living With HIV Go Without Treatment (Shots, NPR, 10-9-18) Members of AHCJ can read details on how she found Bryan C. Jones, the patient she focused on.
• Covering health research? Choose your studies (and words) wisely (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource)
• Nurses play vital roles in health care. Why are they invisible in the media?(Carole R. Myers, First Opinion, STAT, 6-13-18) "Nurses make up the largest segment of the health care workforce and have the closest and most sustained proximity to patients. In Gallup polls, they are repeatedly voted to be the most trusted profession. Over the years, nurses have helped improve access to care; blazed new paths in telehealth, informatics, technology development, and genomics; worked to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety; promoted wellness and expanded preventive care; engaged in research with practical applications and impact; and more. In short, nurses have helped transform the delivery of health care to meet the challenges of a graying and increasingly diverse population. Yet their visibility in the media and influence in policymaking are not commensurate with their numbers, position, and expertise."
• Roxane Gay’s ‘Hunger’ a worthy, perhaps necessary, read for medical journalists (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 2-18-19) "She describes a bias against people with obesity by health care providers (and its implications for obtaining adequate health care) that are well documented in the research literature. Health reporters who cover obesity issues should be aware of this. Her intimate narrative provides insights into the patient perspective that journalists may rarely get even when interviewing patients....The other major issue Gay confronts in the book is a gang rape that took place when she was 12 years old."
• The Woodhull study on nursing and the media: Health care's invisible partner: Final report Published: 1997. Posted on the Virginia Henderson Global Nursing Repository: 5-3-18)
• Surviving Suicide in Wyoming (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight, 7-13-16) Self-reliance helps people thrive in a landscape that's big and tough, but it can also put them at risk if they get into a personal crisis. And the story about the story: How Anna Maria Barry-Jester turned a story about Wyoming suicides into a sensitive narrative (David Wollman, Storygram, The Open Notebook, 6-12-18) Wollman, in a Storygram, annotates an award-winning story to shed light on what makes some of the best science writing so outstanding.
• The Open Notebook interviews. TON ("The story behind the best science stories") offers good reading for science and medical writers, under several categories: Interviews, Elements of Craft, Profiles, Pitch Database, and Getting Started in Science Journalism). Here's a good example: Roxanne Khamsi Explores a Potential Revolution in Cancer Treatment (Jeanne Erdmann, TON, 8-20-19). Scroll down to see the way she saves drafts and labels the drafts so that she can return to an earlier one if a new version doesn't work out. The Wired story she talks about is beautifully written and very persuasive.
• A breast cancer study in mice gets big headlines, setting up potential for patient ‘disaster,’ experts say (Joy Victory, HealthNewsReview, 4-16-18) When a study is based on mice, not humans, that information should be up front, signaling that "this news is not ready for prime time."
• Why The Abortion Fight Is Becoming A Battle Over Health Information (Chelsea Conaboy, CommonHealth, WBUR, 5-22-18) As the White House moves to block federal funding for family planning clinics unless they stop providing abortions or abortion referrals, supporters and opponents of abortion rights are gearing up for a familiar and likely protracted fight. Women today have access to safe, private, do-it-yourself abortion -- if they know where to look. Or rather, which search terms to type into Google. Abortion pills -- typically a combination of misoprostol and mifepristone, the same drugs used in medication abortions initiated at a clinic -- are widely available for sale from online pharmacies.
• A breast cancer study in mice gets big headlines, setting up potential for patient ‘disaster,’ experts say (Joy Victory, HealthNewsReview,
• How to cover an epidemic (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource, Shorenstein Center)
• CDC, scientists brief journalists on status of vector-borne diseases in U.S. (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, AHCJ, 6-25-19) Diseases spread by kissing bugs, mosquitoes and ticks are sharply on the rise in the U.S., says an official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A webcast hosted by SciLine highlighted that the combination of climate change, international travel, changing land use, deforestation, and urbanization of rural areas are all driving vector-borne diseases to the highest numbers ever reported.
• Online Course on Covering Ebola for Journalists: How to better report this disease (World Federation of Science Journalists)
• Maryn McKenna's Ebola Archives
• Journalists learn tips for covering emerging infectious diseases (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-16-16)
• In covering Ebola outbreak this time, some lessons to remember (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists, 6-7-18) AHCJ has a tip sheet on the subject, for members only.
• How creating a map drove a bigger hepatitis story (Lauren Weber, Association of Health Care Journalists, 2-13-18) While the gravity of the situation in San Diego caught national headlines for the nature of the sanitation aspect, we were the first to report the scoop that separate outbreaks were happening across the country, from Michigan to New York — they just weren't getting national media attention. This was more than just a local malfeasance turned deadly; it was a broader trend nationally among homeless and drug-using populations. HuffPost reporter, drawn by data, paints larger picture of hepatitis outbreak (Susan Heavey, Covering Health, 2-15-18) Same story, more public venue.
• Covering Infectious Disease (Poynter resources on covering Ebola)
• Toolkits, Find an Expert, Online Courses & Resources for Journalists (World Federation of Science Journalists) Toolkits on infectious diseases, nuclear safety, dementia, hepatitis C)
• For stories on solutions to Native health problems, reporters take pains to avoid outside-looking-in trap (Antonia Jennifer Gonzales and Sarah Gustavus, Lessons from the Field, Center for Health Journalism, USC Annenberg) Two reporters share their tips and insights from reporting on health issues in Indian Country.
• Indian Country: Covering Native Health Issues with Sensitivity (Victor Merina, Center for Health Journalism)
• Scientists and Journalists Square Off Over Covering Science and ‘Getting it Right’ (Dana Smith, UnDark, 3-1-18) Some scientists say they should have the right to review stories in which their work or words are covered prior to publication--particularly fact-checking quotes. Journalists disagree. “It’s as if scientists are saying, ‘Journalists are too dumb to get the science right, and so I have to check their work.’”“I’d heard experienced scientists say they had always been allowed to look at drafts, and I’d heard from journalists that their professional ethics explicitly forbade this.”“We have to care about the facts, and we have to fact check ourselves, and we have to not be embarrassed to admit if we don’t get it.”
• Journalist's Toolbox (Society of Professional Journalists). The further you dig, the more you find. Check links along left side, too.
• Is your local hospital stingy or generous with charity care? (Sean Hamill, Center for Health Journalism) Check out these unexplored datasets for story ideas and answers
• Panel dissects forces driving hospital consolidation, offers ideas on what might be done (Kellie Schmitt, Center for Health Journalism, 5-21-15)
• Remaking Health Care (Center for Health Journalism blog that explores how health reform is changing the ways in which we pay for and deliver health care in the U.S.) Many specific ledes, such as As health reform action moves to the state level, here are the trends reporters should watch (Kelly Schmitt, 2-8-18) and While some states push for work requirements, Washington state is using Medicaid to get people housed (Kelly Schmitt, 1-23-18) Lots of story ideas here.
• Digging deep: Strategies for investigations (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource, 11-28-17) Tips on FOIA requests on large public records projects; on sources; on finding stories
• Tips for understanding studies.
• How to Cover an Epidemic (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource, Shorenstein Center)
• Nieman Guide to Covering Pandemic Flu
• Veteran journalist offers advice on covering disease outbreaks (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, AHCJ, 2-13-18)
• Introduction to Epidemiology (CDC, Public Health 101 Series), plus a Also in the series: Introduction to Public Health, to Public Health Surveillance, to Public Health Laboratories, to Prevention Effectiveness, and to Public Health Informatics.
• Navigating the CDC: A Journalist's Guide to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web Site (AHCJ Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism)
• Covering Hospitals: Using Tools on the Web by Bob Rosenblatt and Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso (AHCJ and Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism)
• Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes (Charles Bell and Bob Rosenblatt, AHCJ, PDF)
• Covering obesity at the local level (AHCJ tip sheet. PDF)
• HealthNewsReview.org rates health and medical news stories (about medical treatments, tests, products and procedures) for accuracy, balance, and completeness -- helping consumers critically analyze claims about health care interventions
• HNR's important review criteria, explained (for example, Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention? Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure? Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention? Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence? Does the story commit disease-mongering? etc. (10 criteria explained).
• Story Reviews - Systematic, Criteria-Driven
• Industry-Independent Experts Journalists Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer's list of more than 100 independent health care experts (meaning they do not have financial ties to drug or medical device manufacturers) to whom reporters can turn
• Covering Medical Research (by HealthNewsReview.org publisher Gary Schwitzer; published by the Association of Health Care Journalists, PDF)
• Links to other resources
• Health News Watchdog blog (publisher's perspective, opinion--different from the systematic story reviews).
• HIPAA Guide for the Newsroom (Pennsylvania News Media Association) The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. The Act also requires “covered entities” to protect the privacy of individuals’ medical information, and imposes significant penalties on those entities that violate the law.
• A Reporter's Guide to Medical Privacy Law (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). Topics covered include: What is HIPAA, What records are available under HIPPA, Health care journalists' access to hospitals curtailed under HIPAA, General access to hospitals, Attitudes toward privacy rules may change in times of disaster, Confusing laws keep information confidential on college campuses, etc.
• Helpful links for medical writers (Joanne McAndrews)
• Five Ways an Independent Medical Writer Can Add Value to Your Advisory Board (Ginny Vachon, BioPress International, 6-9-17)
• How journalists can navigate privacy laws (Annie Waldman, ScienceWriters Magazine, 6-14-18) "While some agencies are reasonably accommodating, others exploit every loophole or gray area in the law to deny public records requests, or delay in the hope that the journalist will move on to another story and stop bothering them." Strategies for overcoming or circumventing those restrictions shared with reporters at the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference.
• How Health and Education Journalists Can Turn Privacy Laws to Their Advantage (Annie Waldman, ProPubica, 3-19-18) Government agencies often cite privacy to withhold health or education data. Here's how to fight back.
• How to find the ‘forgotten voices’ that will give your health stories power (Tracie Potts, Center for Health Journalism, Craft: Lessons from the Field). See also Other pieces in the "Forgotten Voices" series.
• A news story’s role in the death of son of Mothers Against Medical Error founder (Joy Victory, HealthNewsReview, 4-24-18) Helen Haskell first learned about the surgical procedure that would ultimately kill her son by reading a local newspaper article, which described the surgery, known as the Nuss procedure, as “a revolutionary type of surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina.” It was being marketed as a new way to surgically correct pectus excavatum, a congenital condition that causes a concave chest. "Haskell’s story shows just how high the stakes are when journalists on health care stories become promoters rather than independent analysts–and how long this problem has been in place. For this reason, we chose Haskell’s story to be our first in our ongoing new series examining patient harm from misleading media messages....In the articles we read, there is little–if any–discussion of the potential harms, even though the procedure involves inserting a metal bar into the chest of a (usually healthy) child, and leaving it there for two years....[In April 2018] the Journal of Pediatric Surgery published a study examining the adverse events associated with the surgery, which it noted are underreported. (Underreporting of bad outcomes is a problem for most surgeries, since no governing body in the U.S. regulates surgery, and none tracks complications in a database.)"
• Mothers Against Medical Error (supporting victims of medical harm)
• HIPAA, electronic health records, and patient privacy
• Managing pain and pain medications
• Buying drugs and procedures smartly, cheaply, safely
• Hospitals and hospitalization: What patients need to know
• Generic drugs: overpricing, shortages, and other issues
• Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ)
• Environmental Health News and archives of original articles
• Journalist's Resource on the environment (Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy). Links to many solid articles and research reports.
• EnviroLink and EnviroLink Forum (community, ecology, connection)
• International Environmental Communication Association (IECA, One-Planet Talking)
• Shoptalk: Climate Journalism is About Empowerment (Kamyar Razavi, Editor&Publisher, 12-23-19) Mitigating climate change is often seen in the context of making choices that can be undesirable: flying less, buying less, ditching the car. Instead, the choices people must make to fight climate change can be framed as enjoyable, desirable or even moral, instead of avoidable. In other words, things that people actually want to do. To make that shift, University of Michigan sustainability professor Andy Hoffman argues for a “consensus-based” approach to climate change. Such an approach treats climate change as a cultural issue instead of simply as a scientific and environmental problem. It “frames climate change mitigation as a gain rather than a loss to specific cultural groups,” Hoffman writes. Two models of such journalism: T’Sou-ke Nation becomes model for sustainable living (Video, Global News, Canada, 9-26-19) British Columbia is now home to Canada’s first solar-powered First Nations community, As Dawna Friesen explains, the T’Souke First Nation on Vancouver Island changed currents based on traditional values, and has gone beyond achieving net-zero emissions. And This Ontario town is trying to be Canada’s first carbon-neutral community (Alireza Naraghi, Maclean's, 7-23-19) The tiny village of Eden Mills is closing in on its goal, proving what collective action can achieve.
• NYU Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) (New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute) Who We Are: Storytellers with a Passion for Science. What We Do: A Customized Curriculum, a Hands-On Approach. Where We Work: NYC, the World Capital of Science Journalism.
• Columbia Suspends Environmental Journalism Program (Curtis Brainard, CJR, 10-19-09). Falling employment, rising education costs to blame. "Although our graduates have done well in their careers, even those still employed are finding few opportunities to do the kind of substantive reporting for which the dual degree program has trained them, as they scramble to do their own work plus that of laid-off colleagues. "
• Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin. A gripping human drama rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.
• Ensia Mentor Program Emerging journalists are paired with seasoned experts to produce a piece of content for Ensia, a nonprofit online magazine. The program offers scientists and aspiring environmental journalists an opportunity to build their communication skills and professional network by creating an article, video, image gallery, infographic or other work on a topic of their choice.
• If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer (Isabella Tree, The Guardian, 8-25-18) "Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. We should, at the very least, question the ethics of driving up demand for crops that require high inputs of fertiliser, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, while demonising sustainable forms of livestock farming that can restore soils and biodiversity, and sequester carbon."
• Toxic waste sites and environmental justice: Research roundup (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource)
• Here's the Real Cause of Human-Made Earthquakes (YouTube video, 1.5 minutes US Geological Survey) Wastewater disposal from oil production, near a faultline (especially in Kansas and Oklahoma). When Oklahoma increased regulations the number of earthquakes declined significantly. See also Researchers map susceptibility to human-made earthquakes (Science Daily, 9-26-18) and Man-made earthquakes: Fact or fiction? (Reveal). The wastewater can add pressure to faults, causing them to slip, and Oklahoma is getting the worst of it.
• Government Studies Louisiana Oil Spill Nearly 15 Years After it Began (Weather.com) The government is studying the effects of an oil spill off Louisiana, but it took them nearly 15 years to do it. It's the longest continuous oil spill in U.S. history. NOAA found that more than 4,500 gallons of oil are flowing from the site every day. Now they're trying to determine how much the spill is damaging natural resources.
• 5(ish) Questions: Abbie Gascho Landis and the surprising climate book “Immersion” (Olga Kreimer, Nieman Storyboard, 9-14-17) The writer (and vet) talks about squeezing story from science, and how a book about mussels is also about our tender, tenacious humanity. “Obviously, a big part of writing about mussels is writing about pollution and climate change, these things that people don’t really like to or want to think about....Mussels are a hard sell in some way. They’re animals, but they kind of appear inanimate. They look like rocks. To most of us, they’re invisible, and who even heard of them? I felt that one of the most powerful ways to connect to mussels is to see how they’re connected to us and our stories.”
• We need a better way to measure monarch populations (Lucy Hicks, ScienceLine, 4-4-18) An iconic butterfly is in trouble – but how much trouble? No one disputes that the monarch is in trouble, but some scientists think the species may be in even worse shape than the winter counts suggest.
• Covering climate change
• Get an Inside Look at the Department of Defense’s Struggle to Fix Pollution at More Than 39,000 Sites (Abrahm Lustgarten, Bombs in Our Backyard, ProPublica, 5-7-18). Investigating one of America's greatest polluters. For the first time, the Pentagon’s internal database used to track its environmental problems is available to the public. A vast $70 billion environmental cleanup program run by the U.S. Department of Defense tracks tens of thousands of polluted sites across the United States. In some places, old missiles and munitions were left buried beneath school grounds. In others, former test sites for chemical weapons have been repurposed for day care centers and housing developments. The dataset includes details on more than 39,000 unique sites across more than 5,000 present and former military locations in every U.S. state and territory. The sites are literally in almost everyone’s backyard. See the series: Bombs in Your Backyard (Lena Groeger, Ryann Grochowski Jones & Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 11-30-17)
• The Corruption of Sustainability into Eco-Business (Bill Sheehan, executive eirector of UPSTREAM, on Is Sustainability Still Possible? WorldWatch Institute)
• How The New York Times and The Times-Picayune teamed up to cover coastal erosion (Kristen Hare, Poynter, 2-26-18) The local paper rebuilt its environmental team with grant funding to cover the coast. “Partnering with the Times allowed us to scale the project in a way that would have been impossible were we to go it alone,” editor Mark Lorando told Poynter.
• Communicating Environmental Risks: Local Newspaper Coverage of Shellfish Bacterial Contamination in Maine (Brianne Suldovsky, Eva Arbor, Victoria Skillin, Laura Lindenfeld, Frontiers in Communication, Portland State University, 3-29-18)
• The Future of Dams blog (New England Sustainability Consortium)
• Oceans Deeply. For example: How Microplastics Are Contaminating Seabirds in Remote Regions of Alaska (Yereth Rosen, Oceans Deeply, 2-12-18)
• How to keep the environment from getting snubbed: Q&A with writer Emma Marris (UCLA IoES, 2-12-18) Are eco-conscious audiences sick of the same old story?
• Environmental journalism (Wikipedia)
• Conservatives don't hate the environment, new research suggests (Adam Wernick, PRI, 6-5-16) “My hypothesis is that conservatives are not inherently anti-environmental so much as they are chronically rejecting the liberal tone of the prevailing environmental discourse around these issues.” Liberal and conservative disagreement on climate change and the environment reflects the hyper-partisan times we live in. But it doesn't have to be that way, new research suggests.
• It came from the sewers of London: the utterly disgusting (yet fascinating) fatberg (Nieman Stsoryboard) In The New York Times Magazine's quirky "Letter of Recommendation" column, Nicola Twilley examines the charms of a monstrous subterranean clot formed by the detritus of a genteel city., described memorably by Twilley as a “monstrous subterranean clot the length of 22 double-decker buses with the weight of a blue whale,” born in the sewers of London in the fall of 2017 by an unholy alliance of cooking grease, wet wipes and the everyday detritus of a city.' Behind glass, the fatberg was sanitized and contained, neutralizing even its smell, “a cocktail of rotting meat mixed with dirty diapers, its rancid base notes all but drowned out by an ammoniac tang.”
• An Environmental Conservatism? (The Public Discourse, The Witherspoon Institutute, 1-18-13) Roger Scruton argues that conservatism is a better home for good environmental policy than liberalism.
• How the United States Looked Before the EPA (Kacy Burdette, Fortune, 2-28-17) Fabulous photos commissioned by the Nixon administration.
• Our most popular nature and environment stories (Mongabay, News & Inspiration from Nature's Frontline)
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." ~Wendell Berry
Thanks to Russell Clemings of NASW for leading me to arguments for climate skepticism, which I might not have found otherwise. Now the material here is more balanced.
• United States of Climate Change (The Weather Channel) 50 states, 50 stories. Climate change is already here. Click on any state to see its toll. See, for example, California.
• RealClimate. Climate science from climate scientists.
• How the Republican Party turned against climate science (YouTube, Vox, 8-22-16) A brief history of American inaction on climate change. During George W. Bush’s administration, Republicans are shown agreeing that climate change is a problem. Senator John McCain says utility companies, petroleum companies, and other special interests are blocking progress on congressional action. In 2010, when Pres. Obama asks for a carbon tax on fossil fuels or a cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, he rolls out a new rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Republicans begin not to believe that climate change is real, despite scientific commissions issuing dire warnings about rapidly approaching dangers to Planet Earth. An excellent video, which makes it seem that Obama endorsing efforts to reduce climate warming made it a political issue--because Republicans were not going to support anything Obama recommended. (Not in the video, though he is shown in the first clips: We have also been told that Al Gore's intense arguments about reducing carbon emissions are what turned Republicans and made it a partisan issue.)
• Climate Science as Culture War (Andrew J. Hoffman, Stanford Social Innovation Review, SSIR, Fall 2012) The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology. 'Climate change has become enmeshed in the so-called culture wars. Acceptance of the scientific consensus is now seen as an alignment with liberal views consistent with other “cultural” issues that divide the country (abortion, gun control, health care, and evolution). This partisan divide on climate change was not the case in the 1990s. It is a recent phenomenon, following in the wake of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty that threatened the material interests of powerful economic and political interests, particularly members of the fossil fuel industry.'
• Fourth National Climate Assessment (Summary, 2018) Click on summary findings for main conclusions.
• In Case You Missed It ... Some climate change basics (SueEllen Campbell, Yale Climate Connections, 6-22-18). She recommends three primers:
---Global warming, explained (Brad Plumer, Vox, 5-25-15) Answers to 19 key questions.
---Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change (Justin Gillis, NY Times, 7-6-17) "Unflinching answers to a largely different set of 16 questions."
---The Measure of a Fog (Ian Cheney, Undark, Six 5-to-7-minute videos "take a condensed, accessible, and often beautiful look at some of the complexities we face in grasping and solving the climate problem." Thanks, Suellen Campbell!
• Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine (Greenpeace) The Koch Brothers have sent at least $100,343,292 directly to 84 groups denying climate change science since 1997. Greenpeace uses 1997 as a benchmark year due to increased coordinated backlash against global climate negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol of 1998. We define climate change denial as “anyone who is obstructing, delaying or trying to derail policy steps that are in line with the scientific consensus that says we need to take rapid steps to decarbonize the economy.” Conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch ponied up $650 million to help Meredith Corporation buy Time Inc. "The Koch brothers continue to finance campaigns to make Americans doubt the seriousness of global warming, increasingly hiding money through nonprofits like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. Why focus on Charles Koch and David Koch? Many large foundations associated with corporate fortunes are active in financing climate denial groups — Anschutz, Bradley, Coors, DeVos, Dunn, Howard, Pope, Scaife, Searle, and Seid, to name a few. Unlike Koch, most of those fortunes did not come from owning a corporation like Koch Industries, historically rooted in fossil fuel operations."
• Climate Science vs. Fossil Fuel Fiction (Union of Concerned Scientists infographic) Fossil fuel companies and their lobbying groups have been deceiving the public for nearly 30 years about the facts of global warming.
• Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change (Nathaniel Rich, photos and videos by George Steinmetz, NY Times Magazine, 8-1-18) Must read, and see 'Losing Earth': A Climate Change Curriculum (Pulitzer Center) Lesson plans, tools, activities and other resources to bring "Losing Earth" into the classroom and beyond. But also, read this: Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature” (Naomi, Klein, The Intercept, 8-3-18) 'According to Rich, between the years of 1979 and 1989, the basic science of climate change was understood and accepted, the partisan divide over the issue had yet to cleave, the fossil fuel companies hadn’t started their misinformation campaign in earnest, and there was a great deal of global political momentum toward a bold and binding international emissions-reduction agreement. Writing of the key period at the end of the 1980s, Rich says, “The conditions for success could not have been more favorable.” And yet we blew it....“All the facts were known, and nothing stood in our way. Nothing, that is, except ourselves.” Yep, you and me. Not, according to Rich, the fossil fuel companies who sat in on every major policy meeting described in the piece.... [If] we humans really were on the brink of saving ourselves in the ’80s, but were swamped by a tide of elite, free-market fanaticism — one that was opposed by millions of people around the world — then there is something quite concrete we can do about it. We can confront that economic order and try to replace it with something that is rooted in both human and planetary security, one that does not place the quest for growth and profit at all costs at its center."
• Why Good Politics and Good Climate Science Don’t Mix (Maggie Koerth-Baker, FiveThirtyEight, 3-4-19) The easier it is to process information, the more likely people are to believe it. Anything that makes us briefly confused or makes our train of thought stumble will make an idea less believable. Climate deniers have an advantage: they don’t have to be scientific to be politically effective.
• Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns (Bill McKibben, New Yorker, 9-17-19) I suspect that the key to disrupting the flow of carbon into the atmosphere may lie in disrupting the flow of money to coal and oil and gas. What if the banking, asset-management, and insurance industries moved away from fossil fuels?
• The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback (Andrew Freedman, WaPo, 12-10-19) The 2019 Arctic Report Cardort finds sweeping changes underway across the Arctic. The Arctic region — which is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world — may already have become the global warming accelerator many have feared.
• Current Era of Climate Change More Uniform than in the Past (Kerry Grens, The Scientist, 7-25-19) In contrast to the global change over the past 150 years, temperature extremes in the preceding 2,000 were regional. Prior climate change events, such as the Little Ice Age of the 16th to 19th centuries, were regional, rather than global as is now occurring.
• Green Lifestyle Choices Don't Change the Systems That Make Fossil Fuels Attractive (Maggie Koerth-Baker, FiveThirtyEight, 5-6-13) Which is why we need a structural solution, like a carbon tax.
• The Cataclysmic Break That (Maybe) Occurred in 1950 (Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 4-16-19) Sixty-nine years ago, a new geological era may have begun on Earth. Should the Anthropocene be added as a new epoch to the Geological Time Scale, the standard scientific timeline of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history? Second, should the Anthropocene, if it does exist, commence in the middle of the 20th century?
• How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change (Emma Marris, NY Times, 1-10-2020) Here’s a five-step plan to deal with the stress and become part of the solution, by the author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
• Instituting carbon-fee-and-dividend (Mike Shatzkin, Medium, 5-10-19) ("the single most powerful policy tool we can create to decarbonize our energy systems" -- a good explanation) and Discouraging the closing of nuclear power plants until we can replace their power with something other than fossil fuels (Shatzkin, 5-9-19). "Renewables are a good thing and we should develop them as quickly as we can. And with enough battery capability, even intermittent renewables can handle much of our energy needs over time. But until the day comes when we can retire a nuclear plant and replace its power with clean energy, we ought to stop closing them unless there is some sort of emergency."
See also Hanford’s Dirty Secret (ICAN reporting, on Beyond Nuclear International, 9-15-19) 'Hanford Waste Management Site in Washington is sometimes referred to as “the most toxic place in America,” yet most people will never have heard of it. While the workers and activists of Hanford speak out, their stories are dismissed because they demonstrate the real cost of nuclear weapons. Before any nuclear site can close it must contend with its dangerous waste.... Hanford has 56 million gallons of radioactive waste held in underground tanks and solid waste buried throughout the site. By the site’s own admission, innumerable spills and solid waste burials were not accurately recorded. The environmental and health effects have been devastating – and ignored.... In 2013, Governor Inslee admitted that one tank was leaking up to 300 gallons a year; the contracted cleanup company knew – and did nothing....Around Hanford, people report unusually high rates of thyroid disorders, cancer, and handicaps, because of river pollution." Must reading.
• Why the US bears the most responsibility for climate change, in one chart (Umair Irfan, Vox, 4-24-19) A stunning graph of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions.
• The Koch brothers, the Fraser Institute, and Climate Denial (SourceWatch). See also 7 Disturbing Facts About the Fraser Institute (North99)
• As presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren says, Don't pay attention to the lightbulbs, pay attention to the big polluters. Climate change deniers want us to focus on lightbulbs instead of the big stuff. In fighting climate change our goal should be to get the biggest polluters to change: oil companies need to become clean energy companies and car companies need to build no-pollution cars; buildings need to use clean energy and people need to minimize their carbon footprint down to the lowest level. At the same time, investors need to pull out of companies that are causing pollution -- a growing field is green investing -- and governments need to pour money into making the laws and building the infrastructure to support changes to reduce pollution. ~ Holly Pollinger
• Secretive national oil companies hold our climate in their hands (Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 10-9-19) State-owned firms such as Saudi Aramco and Gazprom have 90% of known reserves. "State-owned companies with rights over the exploitation of national fossil fuel reserves now account for a majority of oil and gas produced around the world, overtaking publicly listed companies such as ExxonMobil, BP and Shell. But most of these 71 state-controlled companies – with a few exceptions, such as Norway’s Equinor – are remarkable for their secrecy, their lack of accountability to any but a small cadre of top government officials, and their absence from globally coordinated attempts to tackle the climate emergency."
• How broadcast TV networks covered climate change in 2018 (Ted MacDonald and Lisa Hymas, MediaMatters, 3-11-19) Broadcast TV news coverage of climate change plummeted 45 percent from 2017 to 2018, even as the climate crisis steadily worsened. The facts, presented several different ways. "This large drop occurred despite 2018 providing plenty of compelling reasons to cover climate change: extreme weather affecting much of the globe; new scientific research raising alarm bells; landmark climate reports being published by both the United Nations and the U.S. government; and the Trump administration continuing to undermine climate protections....The networks did a particularly poor job of explaining how climate change exacerbates extreme weather; none of the networks' news reports on the major hurricanes of 2018 even mentioned climate change." The Trump effect?
• Hurricanes on the scale of Katrina and Harvey are now 3 times more likely than a century ago: 'We cannot hope to combat storms' (Aylin Woodward, Business Insider, 11-12-19)
• What Happens When Climate Change Affects Your Ability To Sell Your Home? (Robin Young, Here and Now, 8-31-18) Young talks with Elizabeth Boineau, a Charleston, South Carolina, resident who had planned to sell her 1939 Colonial-style house, will have to tear it down because of repeated flooding. Climate gentrification: Homes at higher elevation are at an advantage; homes exposed to flooding are losing value.
• Analyzing climate change/hurricane links (Jan Ellen Spiegel, Yale Climate Connections, 6-11-18) A review of top research scientists' views on climate/hurricane links points to areas of increasing scientific consensus, but with key voids still begging high-confidence understanding and answers.
• Stick to the facts: Climate Central’s Bernadette Woods-Placky on how reporters can better cover climate change (Chinyere Amobi, Center for Health Journalism, USC Annenberg, 2-1-18)
• A rural take on climate change (Stephen Kulik, CommonWealth Magazine, 2-19-19) The Nature Conservancy-commissioned research indicates rural and small-town Massachusetts voters are concerned about the impacts of climate change, eager to have more transportation options, and strongly support creation of a clean transportation fund that would invest in transportation choices that reduce pollution.
• Covering climate change: What reporters get wrong and how to get it right (Chloe Reichel, Journalists's Resource). How reporters following their instincts might contribute to public apathy about climate change, and how they can adopt a solutions approach to improve their coverage of the subject. Don't focus on gloom and doom, desensitizing readers. Highlight what people are doing to address it. Put a human face on it. Find individual characters to tell their stories. Do the research; don't just cherry-pick quotes.
• A Centuries-Old Idea Could Revolutionize Climate Policy (Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, Feb. 2019) The Green New Deal’s mastermind is a precocious New Yorker with big ambitions. Sound familiar? See also 7 Reasons Democrats Won’t Pass a Green New Deal (Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 1-29-19) The task is enormous, and the path is narrow.
• The 3 Big Things That People Misunderstand About Climate Change (Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 2-22-19) David Wallace-Wells, author of the new book The Uninhabitable Earth, describes why climate change might alter our sense of time. 1. Climate change is happening quickly. "[M]ore than half of all the emissions ever produced from the burning of fossil fuels have been produced in just the last three decades." 2. It's not just about sea-level rise. 3. We're underassuming its severity: "2 degrees of warming is functionally a floor for where we’ll be, and not a ceiling."
• Braving the Drake Passage, swimming with leopard seals and interviewing a non-talker (Cheryl Katz interviews National Geographic writer Craig Welch for Nieman Storyboard, 12-4-18, with "storyboard" Q&A about the hows and whys of the article's structure). Welch is the only writer among skilled photographers who are visual storytellers; together they turn silent subjects into the compelling voices of climate change. Read the storyboard story with notes on craft, then go to the full multimedia version: As the Antarctic Peninsula heats up, the rules of life there are being ripped apart. Alarmed scientists aren’t sure what all the change means for the future. (Craig Welch, with stunning photographs by Paul Nicklen, Cristina Mittermeier & Keith Ladzinski, National Geographic, Nov. 2018)
• Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science (Ava Kofman, NY Times Magazine, 10-25-18) A deeply thoughtful piece on the "science wars." 'The past decade has seen a precipitous rise not just in anti-scientific thinking — last year, only 37 percent of conservative Republicans believed in the occurrence of global warming, down from 50 percent in 2008 — but in all manner of reactionary obscurantism, from online conspiracy theories to the much-discussed death of expertise....Even though the evidence in support of global warming has long been overwhelming, some scientists continue to believe that the problem of denialism can be solved through ever more data and greater public education. Political scientists, meanwhile, have shown that so-called “irrational” individuals, especially those who are highly educated, in some cases actually hold onto their opinions more strongly when faced with facts that contradict them....“Down to Earth” extends the sociological analysis that he brought to bear on factory workers in Abidjan and scientists in California to the minds of anti-scientific voters, looking at the ways in which the reception of seemingly universal knowledge is shaped by the values and local circumstances of those to whom it is being communicated....Latour believes that if scientists were transparent about how science really functions — as a process in which people, politics, institutions, peer review and so forth all play their parts — they would be in a stronger position to convince people of their claims.'
• Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point (Daniel Aldana Cohen, The Nation, 11-2-18) Recent news commentary ignored the UN climate report’s cautiously optimistic findings.
• Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth (Keith Kahn-Harris, The Guardian, A Long Read, 3-8-18) From vaccines to climate change to genocide, a new age of denialism is upon us. Why have we failed to understand it?
• Trump, The Koch Brothers and Their War on Climate Science (The Real News) Watch the documentary online or read the transcript. How climate change science has been under systematic attack, with funding by the Koch Brothers; how their multi-million dollar campaign allowed a climate change denier to be elected president. Trump politicians linked to Koch support include Mike Pense, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions, Kellyanne Conway, Mike Pompeo.
• RIP Commentator Charles Krauthammer (Bud Ward, Yale Climate Connections, 6-25-18) Death of newspaper and Fox News analyst deprives climate-change 'skeptics' of a forceful ally in challenging climate science. He was particularly critical of those who suggested that climate science in many ways is “settled science.”
• The Big Meltdown (Craig Welch, National Geographic, photos by Paul Nicklen, Cristina Mittermeier, & Keith Lanzinski, Nov 2018) As the Antarctic Peninsula heats up, the rules of life there are being ripped apart. Alarmed scientists aren’t sure what all the change means for the future. Stunning visually.
• Meltdown: Terror at the Top of the World (excerpt from Sabrina Shankman's book of the same name, Inside Climate News). The story of seven American hikers who went on a wilderness adventure into Canada's Arctic tundra—polar bear country—and came back with a tale of terror. The riveting book follows the hikers' harrowing encounter with a polar bear; the latest science on the plight of the polar bear, facing starvation as the sea ice disappears; and of the Arctic meltdown, the most advanced symptom of man-made climate change.
• Elaina Plott Explores Everyday Life on a Sinking Island (Olga Kreimer, The Open Notebook,, 2-5-19) Scientists project that Tangier Island, a fishing community in the Chesapeake Bay, might be uninhabitable in 25 years--but locals don't buy it. In her Pacific Standard portrait of a cozy town fighting a changing climate and a changing culture, Elaina Plott shows what climate science and climate politics look like at street level. She spoke to TON Fellow Olga Kreimer about the power of basic questions, the keys to small-town field reporting, and why opinions and empathy might both be overrated.
• Reporter for conservative paper says Pruitt’s EPA put “extreme pressure” on him to “be their lickspittle” (Media Matters staff, 6-12-18) Right-wing media outlets The Daily Caller and the Washington Free Beacon have often acted as de facto press offices for Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency. Now we learn from Washington Examiner reporter John Siciliano, who covers energy and environment for the conservative-leaning newspaper, that the EPA's press office tried to strong-arm him into writing flattering pieces about the agency and complained to his editors when he refused.
• Climate Change and Global Warming (Global Issues lays out the issues, explanations, facts)
• Do scientists agree on climate change? (NASA) Yes, the vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists – 97 percent – agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change. See this list of leading scientific organizations worldwide that have issued public statements that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. Here's another list.
• The 97% consensus on global warming. What the science says (Skeptical Science) That humans are causing global warming is the position of the Academies of Science from 80 countries plus many scientific organizations that study climate science. More specifically, around 95% of active climate researchers actively publishing climate papers endorse the consensus position.
• How heat waves affect the elderly (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource, 6-7-18) Research in various countries suggests reducing heat-related mortality of the elderly by counteracting their social isolation (through community-based active monitoring), supplementing goods and health care (especially to underweight elders), targeting action starting with the first heatwave of the season, and mitigating the effects of climate change.
• Reporting on climate change: Tips from Dan Schrag (Jessica Colarossi, Journalist's Resource) "“Climate change is here, it’s happening and going to be with us for thousands of years. Journalists should be thinking more about how humans can manage climate change – not stop it. They also should focus on communicating the realities of a changing climate." "Training for science journalists could consist of an undergraduate degree or training in chemistry or physics, or a science fellowship, depending on the journalist and type of reporting he or she does." You need to understand the science, include the correct context, tell the human story, acknowledge the partisan divide, etc.
• Global Warming Science (Union of Concerned Scientists) See Climate Change is the Fastest Growing Threat to World Heritage (Adam Markham, UCS, 7-3-18)
• Climate Change Is Good for These Crabs’ Genitals (Amorina Kingdon, Hakai, 1-18-18) With climate change, there are winners and losers.
• A claim-by-claim analysis of a climate denial 'news' story (Brooke Borel, Popular Science, 3-20-18) An excerpt from a professional fact-checker's claim-by-claim analysis of a climate denial "news" story.
• EPA to its employees: Ignore science when talking about climate change (John Timmer, Ars Technica, 3-29-18) Leaked memo stresses uncertainties, EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s hope for a debate on climate science: Stress gaps in knowledge and don't mention greenhouse gases or how to avoid them.
• Climate Matters in the Newsroom (Survey results, members of Society of Environmental Journalists, March 2018) Results from a survey designed to identify the needs of journalists who wish to report on climate change
as a local issue and the challenges they face in doing so. Journalists responded to questions as 'Should a story present opposing viewpoints (i.e., including the view of someone who is not convinced of climate change)?'
• 'We're doomed': Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention (Patrick Barkham, The Guardian, 4-26-18) Though best known for his work on road safety, Hillman is great at using factual data to challenge conventional wisdom. " In 1972, he criticised out-of-town shopping centres more than 20 years before the government changed planning rules to stop their spread. In 1980, he recommended halting the closure of branch line railways – only now are some closed lines reopening. In 1984, he proposed energy ratings for houses – finally adopted as government policy in 2007. And, more than 40 years ago, he presciently challenged society’s pursuit of economic growth." A must-read.
• Why climate change has run its course (Tucker Carlson and Fox News on "climatistas" and climate change: "a boutique issue for rich people." On climate change as a political issue.
• The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change by David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf.
• How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. Coby Beck's series of responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming, organized in four taxonomies: Stages of Denial, Scientific Topics, Types of Argument, and Levels of Sophistication.
• The Birth of Climate Change Denial (WNYC and the United States of Anxiety collaborate on podcast looking at how accepting the reality of climate change became a political issue (38 minutes, 5-17-17)
• What every concerned citizen needs to understand about the CO2 Challenge Facing Humankind (Mike Shatzkin, Medium, 11-27-17) An excellent overview of the problem of climate change and a clear explanation of the two main approaches to putting a price on carbon (and reducing fossil fuel consumption): the carbon tax and the carbon cap, revenue-positive and revenue-neutral approaches; of "drawdown" (pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and the oceans) "Deforestation — clearing land for human habitation or agriculture — is a major contributor to our CO2 problem." (See especially Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken.)
• Global Warming Skeptic Organizations (Union of Concerned Scientists annotated list)
• A golden opportunity for Democrats to show some bipartisanship on climate change, and for all of us to make some progress (Mike Shatzkin, Medium, 10-18-17)
• Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL, a nonpartisan group) "We exist to create the political will for climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in the exercise of personal and political power."
• Climate Leadership Council (CLC, a Republican group)
• The Daily Climate (climate news delivered to your inbox, free, daily)
• Fact-checking President Trump’s claims on the Paris climate change deal (Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, WaPo, 6-1-17)
• EPA staffers get talking points playing down human role in climate change (Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, WashPost, 3-28-18) 'The list echoes pronouncements by [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt, who along with other Trump administration officials, has repeatedly highlighted uncertainty about the role humans have played in the warming of the planet. Pruitt also has pushed for a government-sponsored exercise to scrutinize climate science and has wondered whether global warming “necessarily is a bad thing.”'
• Global Warming's Terrifying New Math (Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, 7-19-12)
• Idaho Stripped Climate Change From School Guidelines. Now, It’s a Battle. (Livia Albeck-Ripka, NY Times, 2-6-18)
• Italy introduces compulsory climate change study for all state schools (Reuters, The Feed, 11-6-19) “The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the centre of the education model,” Fioramonti said.
• Trump’s EPA chief launches Soviet-style crackdown on free speech (Amanda Marcotte, Salon, 10-25-17) EPA head Scott Pruitt doesn’t want scientists and officials at his agency to talk about climate change. Specifically, he doesn't want EPA staff to admit that climate change is real.
• When Canadian Scientists Were Muzzled by Their Government (Wendy Palen, NY Times, 2-14-17) "Just as the American science community is now struggling with whether to speak out and march or stay quiet and do its work, Canadian scientists wrestled with the same questions. Ultimately, Canada’s scientific community came together to save our research, galvanized support to fight back, and captured the attention and concern of the public. I hope our experience — in the spirit of science transcending borders — can be instructive."
• Murky world of 'science' journals a new frontier for climate deniers (Graham Readfearn, The Guardian, 1-23-18) Deniers have found a platform in emerging publications that publish without rigorous review--taking "advantage of the questionable quality controls in return for getting their work published in what the publishers claim are 'peer-reviewed journals' but that, in reality, are not."
• Why I Won't Debate Science (Kate Marvel, Hot Planet, Scientific American, 6-4-18) Once you put established facts about the world up for argument, you’ve already lost.
• Climate Scepticism: The top 10 (BBC) Ten of the arguments most often made against the consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) along with some of the counter-arguments made by scientists who agree with the IPCC.
• Denialism blog (Mark Hoofnagle, Science Blogs). Don't mistake denialism for debate.
• The reluctant geoengineer (Matt Watson, who came to my attention through NPR story Turning to Scientists to Engineer a Cooler Climate (All Things Considered 10-20-13)
• Climate change: How do we know? (NASA) Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal. - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Site provides many resources, facts, proposed solutions.
• Climate Change & Environment (Food & Water Watch) "Climate change poses the largest environmental threat ever known by humankind. But policymakers are afraid to take the action necessary to stop global warming, even as corporations find new ways to shift all risks to taxpayers and pocket enormous profits."
• How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew J. Hoffman
• Climate Change: A Children’s Book Reading List (Karina Yan Glaser, Book Riot, 1-12-17)
• How reliable are climate models? (G.P.Wayne, Skeptical Science) ""Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change."
• How We Know Global Warming Is Real and Human Caused (Donald R. Prothero on Anthropogenic Global Warming, eSkeptic, 2-8-12)
• Wildfires, health and climate change: Research and resources (David Trilling, Journalist's Resource, 7-18-17) "Since 1984, climate change has been responsible for roughly doubling the area that has burned in the American West, according to a 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (That means two areas the size of Switzerland, rather than one, burned over three-plus decades.) The fires are not only releasing carbon into the atmosphere, thereby exacerbating climate change. The smoke is deadly: “Wildfires emit fine particles and ozone precursors that in turn increase the risk of premature death and adverse chronic and acute cardiovascular and respiratory health outcomes,” said a 2016 report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the coalition of government scientists leading federal climate change inquiry." Summarizes results of several studies.
• A low-tech method for combating climate change (Erik Hoffner, Opinion, WorldPost, WaPo, 9-11-18) 'Unlike “end of the pipe” climate fixes such as Carbon Engineering’s, no new technology is needed to develop and scale agroforestry, with the main costs being seeds and training. On a finite planet, these are assets that can be rapidly acquired, multiplied and deployed globally, with results that are useful, empowering and beautiful.'
• Harvey Didn’t Come Out of the Blue. Now Is the Time to Talk About Climate Change. (Naomi Klein, The Intercept, 8-28-17) "[T]hese events have long been predicted by climate scientists. Warmer oceans throw up more powerful storms. Higher sea levels mean those storms surge into places they never reached before. Hotter weather leads to extremes of precipitation: long dry periods interrupted by massive snow or rain dumps, rather than the steadier predictable patterns most of us grew up with. The records being broken year after year — whether for drought, storm surges, wildfires, or just heat — are happening because the planet is markedly warmer than it has been since record-keeping began. Covering events like Harvey while ignoring those facts, failing to provide a platform to climate scientists who can make them plain, all while never mentioning President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, fails in the most basic duty of journalism: to provide important facts and relevant context. It leaves the public with the false impression that these are disasters without root causes, which also means that nothing could have been done to prevent them (and that nothing can be done now to prevent them from getting much worse in the future)....What should it mean for the kind of infrastructure we build? What should it mean for the kind of energy we rely upon? (A question with jarring implications for the dominant industry in the region being hit hardest: oil and gas). And what does the hyper-vulnerability to the storm of the sick, poor, and elderly tell us about the kind of safety nets we need to weave, given the rocky future we have already locked in?"
• How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps (Nadja Popovich, John Schwartz, and Tatiana Schlossber, NY Times, 3-21-17) Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that the changes will harm them personally. New data released by the Yale Program on Climate Communication gives the most detailed view yet of public opinion on global warming.
• Inside Climate News (a Pulitzer Prize-winning, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering climate change, energy and the environment)
• The Tyee, a solutions-focused outlet based out of Vancouver.
• Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (studies the factors that shift public opinion on the subject)
• Media Coverage of Climate Change (University of Colorado at Boulder’s International Collective on Environment, Culture & Politics produces montly reports)
• Silencing Science Tracker (Columbia Law School) Tracks government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election. A joint initiative of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. The Climate Deregulation Tracker identifies steps taken by the Trump administration and Congress to scale back or wholly eliminate federal climate mitigation and adaptation measures. Here's a story about these databases of U.S. government efforts to muzzle science since the November 2016 election: New Silencing Science Tracker Launched by the Sabin Center and Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (Romany Webb, Climate Law Blog, 1-19-18).
• Collective Ideation: Challenges and Solutions for Climate Change Reporting (The Lookout Station, April 2018) After the session in Perugia, the outcomes of the session were documented in "Collaborative Ideation: Climate Change Reporting -- Challenges and Ideas for Solutions", a 11-page Google doc (downloadable) that lists 6 challenges the group collaboratively formulated during the session, and a list of solutions per challenge.
• The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers (Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, 10-11-19) Company wants to curry favour with conservatives to protect its ‘section 230’ legal immunity.
• Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers (Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, 10-11-19) Firm’s public calls for climate action contrast with backing for conservative thinktanks. Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.
• Hague climate change judgement could inspire a global civil movement (Emma Howard, The Guardian, 6-24-15) Dutch ruling could trigger similar cases worldwide with citizens taking their governments to courts to make them act on climate promises.
• 5(ish) Questions for Douglas Haynes and “Every Day We Live Is the Future” (Nieman Storyboard) The author spent nearly 10 years on his project to show climate change in the extreme micro, telling the stories of two Nicaraguan women. Only when he returned to Nicaragua last month and placed the book in the protagonists’ hands that he began to realize the full significance of his efforts – and theirs. Every Day We Live Is the Future: Surviving in a City of Disasters by Douglas Haynes. made it real for them.” The book "is a dispatch from the frontiers of climate change, told through the lens of the long-term relationships that Haynes developed with two women" who live in Managaua, Nicaragua’s capital, "though they were born in rural areas of the country, and both are engaged in a hard, long-term effort to lift their families out of poverty. They do so in the face of a rapidly changing climate that subjects them to recurrent climate violence. “In richer Global North cities,” Haynes writes, “climate risks are mostly masked and mitigated by infrastructure, technology, bureaucracy, and insurance. But in the Global South, the confluence of the impacts of colonialism, rural-to-urban flight, class divides, and dramatic weather events mean that the urban poor are constantly rebuilding their lives with ever-diminishing resources and support."
• When Is It Time to Retreat from Climate Change? ( Michelle Nijhuis, New Yorker, 3-27-17) Discusses communities that undertook a collective retreat from the effects of climate change, in what disaster experts call managed retreat—abandoning areas vulnerable to floods, tsunamis, and rapid erosion. 'While managed retreat is not always the right choice for communities threatened by climate change, both Katharine Mach and Miyuki Hino said that it may be the right choice more often than we’re willing to admit, and they hope that their analysis will lead to its more forthright consideration. Well more than a hundred million people are expected to face displacement by rising seas before the end of the century. “We’re going to have to think really hard about how and where it happens, who moves and who stays, and whose values matter most,” Mach said. “In so many ways, it’s a perfect unfolding of both the tensions and the opportunities in adaptation.”
• Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted (Reuters, The Guardian, 6-18-19) ‘The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years’
• People Want to Know About People (Sipho Kings, NiemanReports, 4-27-18) Stories about global warming, floods, and all forms of catastrophe struggle to resonate when they don't include people.
• How To Convince Conservative Christians That Global Warming Is Real (Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, 5-2-14) Millions of Americans are evangelical Christians. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is persuading them that our planet is in peril.
• How to talk climate change with Evangelical Christians Katharine Hayhoe convinces her fellow Evangelical Christians that climate change is real by appealing to their shared religious beliefs.
• Lyme disease and climate change: Research roundup (David Trilling, Journalist's Resource, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, 7-25-17) How is climate change a factor in the spread of Lyme disease? "Ticks are delicate little bugs. They don’t like freezing or getting too dry. Mild winters help them survive; their eggs hatch sooner, lengthening the feeding and molting season. Deer help them move further north into areas where cooler temperatures would have once killed them. “Deer ticks are mostly active when temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and they thrive in areas with at least 85 percent humidity. Thus, warming temperatures associated with climate change are projected to increase the range of suitable tick habitat and are therefore one of multiple factors driving the observed spread of Lyme disease,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which sees the spread of Lyme as an indicator of climate change."
• The reluctant geoengineer (Matt Watson, who came to my attention through NPR story Turning to Scientists to Engineer a Cooler Climate (All Things Considered 10-20-13)
• Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s Tale (New York Times, 11-11-17) The Texas city’s response to a powerful storm says much about polarized visions of the country and diverging attitudes toward cities, race, liberty and science. See also Climate, Power, Money And Sorrow: Lessons Of Hurricane Harvey (Adam Frank, NPR, 9-6-17) "Katrina, Sandy and, now, Harvey — with each of these powerful storms we get a view into how a changing climate may play out in the real world beyond arguments and abstractions. What it's always been about are the truly awesome powers inherent to planets and the real human consequences of altering the balance of those powers. Luckily, there's still time to marshal our own great and creative powers and chart a saner course."
• Why conservative Christians don’t believe in climate change (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2015) From the Abstract: "An analysis of resolutions and campaigns by evangelicals over the past 40 years shows that anti-environmentalism within conservative Christianity stems from fears that “stewardship” of God’s creation is drifting toward neo-pagan nature worship, and from apocalyptic beliefs about “end times” that make it pointless to worry about global warming."
• What We Know, And Don’t Know, About Science Denial in America (Stephanie Keep, National Center for Science Education blog, 3-28-18) According to Perceptions of Science in America, a new report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 'A younger American is more likely than an older American to agree that climate change is man-made but less likely to view childhood vaccines as safe. Political ideology and age are the strongest predictors of view regarding climate change, but education or science knowledge was the strongest predictive factor when it came to came to GMO safety. For me, this was the most important takeaway: there is no single group you can point to and say, these are the people who are “anti-science.”'
• Our Climate Change And Health “Moment”: How Philanthropy Can Help (Matt James, Health Affairs, 3-20-17) Interesting links.
• Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet (NASA, selected resources from U.S. government organizations provide information about options for responding to climate change).
• For Earth Day, 24 Magazine Covers About Climate Change (Washington Post, 4-17-19) "We know that the clock is ticking on climate change, yet the sheer volume of news can make it tough for even the most conscientious citizen to comprehend the full scale of the crisis. So for Earth Day, we created a different way to read about climate change: an all-cover issue of The Washington Post Magazine, with each cover illustrating an aspect of climate change that The Post wrote about in the past year or so. Scroll down to see the stories — and the covers we created to highlight them."
• Fight Climate Change in Your Own Garden (Deonna Anderson, Yes! Journalism for People Building a Better World, 11-12-18) Your backyard could be the next front in the war against global warming.
• Climate Change Is Altering Lakes and Streams, Study Suggests (Carl Zimmer, NY times, 1-11-18) Like the ocean, fresh water absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But the effects are likely to vary widely from place to place.
• Climate Change Is Turning 99% of These Baby Sea Turtles Female (Ben Guarino, Wash Post, 1-8-18) The temperature outside a green sea turtle egg influences the sex of the growing embryo. And this unusual biological quirk, scientists say, endangers their future in a warmer world.
• Climate education resources (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA)
• California models regulations on high-emission industries (Sarah E. Olson, AAAS meeting coverage, NASW blog, 3-9-18) "Measurements of the greenhouse gas methane near high-emission industrial sites in California have influenced regulatory changes and may outline a path for other states to follow, experts say. The data collected highlights the need to better monitor industries that in the long term contribute significantly to the Golden State's output of methane, and in the short term pose a more immediate threat to communities near production plants."
• U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (NOAA)
• How to keep the environment from getting snubbed: Q&A with writer Emma Marris (UCLA Institute of Environmental Sciences) Are eco-conscious audiences sick of the same old story? Films, books and movies on environmental topics often fall back on a common formula: scaring people with so-called “gloom and doom” narratives. And repeated messages like that turn people off. Marris: I don’t know if it’s fatigue with environmental narratives so much as it’s that we are more interested in how people relate to each other--or relate to a particular animal or species. One additional challenge with climate change is that it’s not an acute problem. It’s a chronic problem, and that’s harder to dramatize.
• Who Should Pay for Climate Change? (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight, 3-22-18) That’s the question in a California courtroom. But before the judge hears the case, he wanted a climate science tutorial.
• 25 Great Articles and Essays about Climate Change (The Electric Typewriter)
• Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder a biography by Caroline Fraser. The review that drew me to the book: ‘Little House’ and the identity of the prairie struggle (Claire Thompson, High Country News) "The gritty reality behind Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings."'
• You May Be Surprised to Learn Which 2 Countries Are Making the Globe a Lot Greener (Dan Charles. Goats and Soda, NPR, 2-14-19) India and China are showing that policy can make a difference. The greening of India, geographer Molly Brown says, comes from a huge expansion of irrigated agriculture. In China, a government-sponsored reforestation project was developed in an "attempt to prevent catastrophic dust storms that resulted from earlier deforestation."
• 35 vintage photos taken by the EPA reveal what American cities looked like before pollution was regulated (James Pasley, Business Insider, 8-14-19) In case you weren't around and can't remember.
• Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb. By the start of the 20th century, the near disappearance of beavers from the U.S. at the hands of trappers made wetlands and meadows dry up, hastened erosion, altered streams, and harmed fish, fowl,and amphibians. Booklist starred review: “Envision a perfect stream. Most people picture a clear, fast-moving creek with a narrow course and lots of rocks. This vision, award-winning environmental journalist Goldfarb informs us in this fresh, historically grounded look at North America’s largest rodent, is wrong. Before the ‘ furpocalypse,' during which trappers decimated the once enormous beaver population, streams were mostly murky swamps backed up to cover several acres by beaver–built wooden dams and dotted with beaver lodges constructed out of sticks. The disappearance of beavers severely altered watersheds and contributed to the drying of the West. After attending a conference on beaver ecology, Goldfarb became a beaver acolyte and here writes eloquently of the return of this industrious, habitat–enriching animal, its conflicts with humans and their property, and of the ways both elegant and Rube Goldbergian in which beaver and human needs can be balanced. Goldfarb traveled the country to observe researchers, beaver damage mitigators, county engineers, hydrologists, and wildlife biologists, all working with beavers and studying their positive effects on ecosystems from the western deserts to the replenishing forests of the east. Beavers are kind of magical, Goldfarb tells us: they can make wetlands appear.”
• Long-Awaited EPA Study Says Fracking Pollutes Drinking Water (Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch, 6-4-15)
• These Scientists Were Disbanded by the EPA — They Plan to Meet Anyway (Jordan Davidson, EcoWatch, 9-27-19)
• For many reporters covering climate, population remains the elephant in the room (Wudan Yan, CJR, 9-18-19) In 2017, Seth Wynes of Lund University in Sweden and Kimberly Nicholas of the University of British Columbia estimated the carbon emissions that various individual lifestyle choices would have. The foremost way to reduce climate change, their report said, would be to have one fewer child...The runner-ups were living car free, and not taking one transatlantic flight.
• 'Venice Is On Its Knees': Mayor Blames Worst Flood Tide In 50 Years On Climate Change (Bill Chappell NPR, 11-13-19)
• The Flood Watcher (Lucy Schiller, CJR, 11-7-19) "It’s all of the decisions that we’ve ever made, since the 1880s, the 1890s, that are creating the issues that we have today.”
• How to Mourn a Glacier (Lacy M. Johnson, New Yorker,10-20-19) "The last ice age began in the Pleistocene and ended ten thousand years ago, when Iceland was covered in a massive ice sheet thousands of feet thick. The planet has warmed, cooled, and warmed again since then; ice has advanced and retreated, and this movement has carved the mountains and valleys that we claim as our own. But, in the past several years alone, we have witnessed not only an acceleration of the great thaw, but also the sudden bleaching of the coral reefs, the rapid spread of the Sahara desert, continuous sea-level rise, the warming of the oceans, and record-breaking hurricanes each season and every year. This is one of the most distressing things about being alive today: we are witnessing geologic time collapse on a human scale."
• Climate Signs (Emily Raboteau, NY Review of Books, 2-1-19) What happens when signs all around us elicit fear of climate change in our children?
• The Watson Files (Laura Heaton, photos by Nichole Sobecki, Foreign Policy, 5-31-17) What if there were a blueprint for climate adaptation that could end a civil war? An English scientist spent his life developing one — then he vanished without a trace. 'Climate change is viewed as a “threat multiplier” because of its potential to exacerbate everything “from infectious disease to terrorism.”In Somalia, where fishermen-turned-pirates troll the coastline looking for cargo ships to hold hostage and farmers-turned-insurgents menace civilians on land, these reports simply confirm the obvious. “The fact [is] that many of our youth have lost jobs because of desertification, deforestation,” said Buri Hamza, who served as Somalia’s top environmental official. “This is one of the major causes of radicalization."'
• Your Questions About Plastic Waste, Answered (Christopher Joyce, Goats and Soda, NPR, 2-8-19) How can I find out if the plastic I put into recycling in my community is really being recycled and not just sent to some poor country? Aren't there biodegradable plastics that can be used for packaging and if so, why aren't they? How can I, a high schooler in small-town Wisconsin, help reduce plastic waste both locally and globally? Are there people in the U.S. that are plastic shaming like Froilan Grate? What makes some plastics recyclable and others not? What happened to the building blocks for housing, walls, sidewalks, etc. that were to be made from our ocean plastic? What can I do to aid the activist in this story? From NPR's special series, The Plastic Tide ("Exploring plastic waste in our environment")
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." ~Philip K. Dick
"Life would be tragic if it weren't funny." ~ Stephen Hawking
[Back to Top]
• ACES Too High News (ACES = Adverse Childhood Experiences)
• Advance Copy (backstories on books by members of the National Association of Science Writers, Lynne Lamberg's brainchild, and great material when you're writing that book proposal). See Archives and Submission guidelines.
• Aetiology (Sb, Scienceblogs) discussing causes, origins, evolution and implications of disease and other phenomenon)
• AGU blogs (American Geophysical Union's excellent community of earth and space science blogs)
• All About Health (Democrat & Chronicle)
• Alltop (health) (links to five most recent stories of health news sites and blogs)
• AMA Style Insider
• American Health Scare (How the healthcare industry's scare tactics have screwed up our economy — and our future)
• Antidote: Investigating Untold Health Stories (William Heisel, investigative health reporting, one of several health beat blogs at USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism)
• Autism News Beat (an evidence-based resource for journalists)
• Bad Medicine (the dubious, bad and sometimes frankly lunatic developments in the medical world). Ben Goldacre's column from The Guardian, covering media misrepresentations of science, with a particular focus on medicine--with a forum. Listen to his TED talk, Battling Bad Science.
• Best 50 Medical Technology Blogs (Forensic Science)
• Best Science Shortform Writing roundups (curated quarterly, posted on Medium). See Help me find the “Best” Shortform Science Writing! (Diana Crow, SciShortform, Medium)
• Better Health
• Black Triangle , Posts for which are still there, but it has morphed to Anthony Cox (pharmacist academic)
• A Blog Around the Clock (Scientific American)
• Boston Health News
• Celebrity Diagnosis
• Center for Health Journalism (USC Annenberg) Mission: Helping journalists investigate health challenges and solutions in their communities and serving as a catalyst for change. "We partner with reporters and their newsrooms to nurture ambitious journalism that impacts policy and spurs new community discussions. Our all-expenses-paid fellowships offer journalists a chance to step away from their newsrooms to hone health reporting skills."
• Charles Ornstein's Morning Health Reads (subscribe, Nuzzel). One day's read brought this gem: In the U.S. market for human bodies, anyone can sell the donated dead.
• The Chart (Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN)
• Check Up (philly.com, Philadelphia Inquirer)
• Citizens for Patient Safety
• Covering Health (Association of Health Care Journalists, with excellent links to health beats in newspapers, blogs, etc.--including this Health News blogroll)
• CJR's The Observatory (a lens on the science press)
• Closer to Truth (TV series) Cosmos. Consciousness. Meaning. Scientists and philosophers debate the vital ideas of existence, the deepest questions. Closer to Truth discusses life's most essential topics and encourages the conversation to continue.
• CMS.gov: Special Open Door Forums to independently discuss new and important program topics
• Correcting the AIDS Lies (AIDS dissent is largely based on misinformation and misunderstanding--collating all relevant facts so that no one need die of ignorance)
• Cracking Health Costs
• David Antrobus, whose tweet of a funny cartoon led me to this "FindaProofreader.com entry, which would certainly lead me to hire him)
• DC's Improbable Science (truth, falsehood and evidence: investigations of dubious and dishonest science)
• Denialism blog (Mark Hoofnagle, Science Blogs). Don't mistake denialism for debate.
• Diabetes Mine
• Disrupted Physician (The Physician Wellness Movement and Illegitimate Authority: The Need for Revolt and Reconstruction)
• The Doctor Blog (ZocDoc)
• Dr. Len's Cancer Blog
• DoubleXScience, bringing science to the woman in you, whoever she is, whatever she does. Sections: biology, book reviews, chemistry, health, mental illness, notable women, pregnancy, physics, pregnancy 101, science education, everything else. Sample: The Girls of Atomic City (book review by Chris Gunter) The unbelievable true story of young women during World War II who worked in a secret city dedicated to making fuel for the first atomic bomb—only they didn’t know that.
• Educate the Young And on occasion...regulate the old.
• Elaine Shattner, MD (Forbes blog, covers the culture and science of cancer and health)
• Embargo Watch (Ivan Oransky, MD, keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage)
• Engaging the Patient
• FDAWebView (Jim Dickinson's webview/review/update--this interactive website that watches the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with email bulletins and archive of old regulatory, legal, policy, and scientific news)
• Essential medical links for patients, families, caregivers, reporters
• First Opinion (STAT) Perspective and commentary from experts around the world
• Forensic Science Technician blog
• Freelance Medical Writing
• From the Lab Bench (Paige Brown Jarreau, blogging about all things science)
• Gastropod (looks at food through the lens of science and history)
• Good e-resources for patients and patient advocates
• Grand Rounds, a weekly summary of the best health blog posts on the Internet, available at Better Health and at Blogborygmi.com
• Health (The Atlantic blogs on body, family, food, mind, public, sex)
• Health Affairs (blog of the journal of health policy thought and research)
• Health (STAT) The latest developments affecting patients and practitioners
• Health & Wellness (Los Angeles Times)
• Health Beat (Maggie Mahar) Health articles, nutritional facts, and fitness tips
• Healthcare Savvy (WBUR)
• The Health Care Blog
• Health Care Renewal Addressing threats to health care's core values, especially those stemming from concentration and abuse of power. Advocating for accountability, integrity, transparency, honesty and ethics in leadership and governance of health care.
• Health Navigator (NY Times selective guide to health and medical sites on the Internet)
• Health News Blogs (Association of Health Care Journalists blogroll)
• HealthNewsReview: Your Health news watchdog (excellent health news watchdog blog, offering perspective and opinion, by Gary Schwitzer and others). See also HealthNewsReview.org's review criteria (journalists: study this!), and their Story Reviews (systematic, criteria-driven critiques of news stories and other media messages that may affect the public dialogue about health care).
• Hidden Brain (NPR) Podcast about the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, and the biases that shape our choices.
• Houston We Have a Podcast (Johnson Space Center)
• Impatient: Helping make the health care system work for you (KPCC, Southern California Public Radio--listen live)
• The Incidental Economist (Aaron E. Carroll's health services research blog)
• Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement
• Instagram. Why We Scientists Do Instagram (From the Lab Bench, 3-26-18)
• In the Lab (STAT) Putting the latest scientific research under the microscope
• In the Pipeline
• Invisibilia (NPR) Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.
• JAMA Forum news
**** Kaiser Health News (KHN, an editorially independent news organization dedicated to providing excellent, high-quality coverage of health care policy and politics)
• Karmanos Conquers Cancer
• KevinMD (physicians' voices)
• Undark . Truth. Beauty. Science.
• Living with Cancer (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
• The Last Word On Nothing ("Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing" - Victor Hugo)
• Liz Szabo's Twitter feed is great for following health and medical news and stories
• MD Whistleblower
• MedCityNews (business of innovation in healthcare)
• medGadget (emerging medical technologies)
• Medical Lessons
• Medical Watchdog ("we cover the latest news in defective medical devices and drugs and how people can fight for their rights when big drug companies fail to protect"
• A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life (Debra Gordon)
• Medical Writing Industry (blog for medical writers and editors in the pharmaceutical industry)
• Medical Writing, Editing and Grantsmanship
• Medical Matters (John Schumann, Public Radio Tulsa, old program about health care and the human condition)
• Medicine Matters (Vancouver Sun, BC)
• MedPageToday (geared to physicians; evaluates the evidence, discloses financial conflicts of interest the authors report)
• Medscape blogs
• MEDShadow (balancing drug risks & benefits)
• Med Student's t-Test (a medical/graduate student's musings on medicine and science, with occasional rants about quackery)
• Methods (Brooke borel's blog about how we know what we know--see A journalist’s new podcast explores the secrets behind fact-finding (Joshua Adams, CJR, 8-24-17)
• Money (STAT) The business behind science, medicine, and the drug industry
• Mongobay (a nonprofit conservation news service, from nature's frontline). Listen especially to this podcast: The true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtle hatchlings survived New York City (Mike Gaworecki, 12-11-18)
• Musings of a Distractible Mind (Dr. Rob Lambert)
• Narrative Matters (essays in Health Affairs)
• National Association of Science Writers (NASW)
• Nature.com blogs
• Neurologica your daily fix of neuroscience, skepticism, and analytical thinking)
• News@JAMA (the JAMA forum)
• The New York Times Health News
• Notes from Dr. RW (hospital resources and more)
• Not Running a Hospital (former hospital CEO Paul Levy) Excellent blogroll in several categories.
• Off the Charts (American Journal of Nursing)
• On Being a Doctor (Annals of Internal Medicine) An ongoing series.
• Online-resources for patients/consumers/patient advocates/caregivers
• Only Human (Virginia Hughes, National Geographic)
• Open access, open science, and how to identify predatory OA publishers (elsewhere on this site). See for example this archived version of Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers. Read Declan Butler's article in Nature: Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing (3-27-13) "The explosion in open-access publishing has fuelled the rise of questionable operators."
••••The Open Notebook (the story behind the best science stories). Great material. See for example behind-the-story interviews , elements of craft, Pitch database, essential guide to science blogging, A day in the life, natural habitat (where science writers share their working spaces -- offices, spare bedrooms, coffee shops, hammocks -- and the accoutrements that help them do their work),and other resources.
• Patient POV (Laura Newman)
• Patient Safety Action Network Community (on Facebook)
• Patients sharing info about health care
• Pharmalot (STAT blog) Ed Silverman, Taking stock of the drug industry, from the lab to the medicine chest
• Pharmed Out (Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman), an independent, publicly funded project that empowers physicians to identify and counter inappropriate pharmaceutical promotion practices.
• Phenomena (a science salon hosted by National Geographic)
• A Piece of My Mind (JAMA Network series devoted to telling stories about the joys, challenges, and hidden truths of practicing medicine in the modern era)
• PLoS blogs (Public Library of Science)
• Politics (STAT) Tracking how politics and policy intersect with science and health care
• Prepared Patient (Center for Advancing Health) designed to help people find good care and make the most of it, based on experts' findings, recent scientific findings, and patients' experiences. (No advertising or corporate sponsorship.)
• The ProPublica Nerd Blog, a place to talk about what programmer-journalists at ProPublica are working on, announce newly-launched news applications, and to hear from technically-minded readers, as well as our fellow nerdy journalists. A sample project: Treatment Tracker: The Doctors and Services in Medicare Part B
• Pulse (voices from the heart of medicine -- personal accounts of illness and healing)
• The Quackometer (debunking quack medicine)
• The reluctant geoengineer (Matt Watson, who came to my attention through NPR story Turning to Scientists to Engineer a Cooler Climate (All Things Considered 10-20-13)
• Remaking Health Care (Center for Health Journalism)
• Respectful Insolence (a.k.a. "Orac knows, ScienceBlogs). Against quackery etc.
• Reporting on Health blogs (California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, about blogging, health journalism, and storytelling)
--William Heisel's Antidote: Investigating Untold Health Stories
--The Reporting on Health Daily Briefing
-- Doc Gurley's Urban Health Beat (practicing medicine on the margins of society, and what we can learn from it)
• Retraction Watch (tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process)
• Research Blogging (reports on peer-reviewed research)
• Retraction Watch , founded and run by Ivan Oransky, the executive editor at Reuters Health, and Adam Marcus, the managing editor of Anesthesiology News, on which they track the retraction of scientific papers (to help make public research fraud, made-up data, and erroneous or false research)
• Robert Wood Johnson blogs
• Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor (Mark Crislip practices in infectious diseases)
• Science-Based Medicine (blog exploring issues and controversies in science and medicine, including dubious medical, nutritional, and related approaches to medical diagnosis, treatment, etc.). Along the same lines see excellent page of links to medical blogs, medical sites, recommended sites, and skeptical and science blogs
• Science-based pharmacy (turning an eye on the profession, separating fact from fiction on both sides of the counter)
• Science Blogs (The Guardian)
• Science Blogs
• Science blogs (Wired)
• Science Friday (SciFri) Ira Flatow, host of this long-running show, is consistently knowledgable about whatever he’s interviewing researchers about, asks great questions, and gives the researchers airtime enough to really answer the questions.
• Scientific American blogs
• SciShortform aka Science Shortform (Best Shortform Science Writing, at Medium.com) The Best Shortform Science Writing project highlights standout science writing. Curated quarterly. To nominate pieces tag them #scicomm #scistory #sciencemedia
• SciLine Your story involves science. You need an expert, and you need that expert now. Scientific expertise and context on deadline. (AAAS) See SciLine provides journalists with scientific expertise (Cybrarian, NASW, 3-22-18)
• Shots (health news from NPR)
• Shrink Talk
• Singularity Hub
• Terra Sigillata (about medicinal agents, not all of which are drugs)
• Science careers blog (Science, various contributors)
• Science Daily
• Science Online (Conversation, Community, & Connections at the Intersection of Science & the Web)
• Science Roll (Dr Bertalan Meskó's journey in Genetics PHD and medicine through Web 2.0--medical education, medical technology, e-learning and virtual medicine)
• Scientific American blogs (by latest blog posts) and Scientific American blog network (with links to blogs in categories: MIND blogs, From Our Network. For example: Anthropology in Practice, The Artful Amoeba , History of Geology, and The Primate Diaries
• Science Seeker (science news from science newsmakers)
• Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.
• SciShortform (Medium, Science Writing)
• Secrets of Good Science Writing (excellent Guardian blog, in honor of the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize , sponsored by the Guardian and the Observer).
• Shrink Rap (for psychiatrists by psychiatrists) and now a book: Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work by Dinah Miller, Annette Hanson, and Steven Roy Daviss. Listen to them interviewed on Talk of the Nation (NPR)
• Skeptical Scalpel
• Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe (promoting critical thinking and science literacy)
• Speaking of Medicine (PLOS Medical Journals' community blog)
• StarTalk. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, with various comic and celebrity co-hosts, hosts popular podcast on space, science, and popular culture.
• STAT Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine. For $25/mo. you can subscribe to STAT Plus (which gives you "access to exclusive, in-depth pharma, biotech, business, and policy coverage, keeping you on top of what’s happening in the industry — as it happens."
• Statista (portal for statistics)
• Taking Measure (NIST) Official blog of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
• TED Blog
• TedMed and TEDMED Talks (video)
• This May Hurt a Bit (Shara Yurkiewicz, Scientific American, The intuitions, insights, and growing pains of a medical student)
• This Scientific Life (Cooper Square Review of Science, Medicine, and Technology) Good essays and book reviews by young scientists.
• Toolkit for journalists and consumers (HealthNewsReview.org) See also Just for journalists: Tips and case studies for writing about health care
• Top 50 Public Health Blogs (The Science of Health blog, 1-13-10)
• Top 25 Forensic Science Blogs of 2012 (editors, Top Criminal Justice Degrees blog, 1-31-13)
• Tracker (or Tracker 2.0, a Knight Science Journalism Program), turning "a discerning eye on science journalism — the good, the bad, and the occasionally mystifying — with the hope that our analyses will help to keep science writing vibrant, alive, and free from temptation."
• UnBreak Your Health (Alan E. Smith, "the complete reference guide to complementary and alternative health therapies"). "Did you catch the news last week that life expectancy in America actually declined last year?...Did you know we rank BELOW Cypress, New Zealand and Costa Rica? I won't even mention the European countries." (12-10-16)
• Undark . Truth. Beauty. Science. MIT's Knight Science Journalism''s online magazine, called Undark "as a signal to readers that our magazine will explore science not just as a 'gee-whiz' phenomenon, but as a frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproduct of human culture."
• The Upshot (data-driven blog on politics, policy and economic analysis, NY Times)
• The Vaccine Times
• Vital Signs (Salon.com blog in defense of science-based health care)
• The Watchdogs (Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, STAT: Keeping an eye on misconduct, fraud, and scientific integrity)
• Well (NY Times blog)
• White Coat Underground (doctoring in real life)
• Women and Science Blogging (Daniel Lende, Neuranthropology, PLoS blog, 1-27-11) Which refers us to Even when we want something, we need to hide it (Kate Clancy, Context and Variation) and I’ve never been very good at hiding (Christie Wilcox, Observations of a Nerd).
• Working Life (Science blog, AAAS)
Podcasts about health, healthcare, and medicine
• Advisory Board--Daily Briefings podcasts
• Cancer podcasts (CDC)
• HealthCetera podcasts , an evidence-based news, analysis and commentary program about healthcare and health policy. that started out on land radio and migrated online as a podcast.
• The Lancet
• Medicine Podcasts (lots of them)
• Medicine Podcasts (lots of them)
• Mindful Meditations (UCLA)
• NIH podcasts and videocasts archive
• Science Podcasts
• The Weeds (Vox, semiweekly policy podcast, hosted by Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff, and Matthew Yglesias.
• What the Health? (Kaiser Health News podcast)
• 45 Awesome Podcasts For Public Health Students & Professionals
• 15 Healthcare Podcasts (Advanced Data Systems Corps)
• Writing & Publishing a Scientific Paper (YouTube, Jennifer Cullen, ScienceDocs consultant, 8-6-18)
• The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete (James Somers, The Atlantic, 4-5-18) Scientific papers haven't changed much since they their origins in the 1600s. Now they are long, full of jargon and symbols, dependent on "chains of computer programs that generate data, and clean up data, and plot data, and run statistical models on data. These programs tend to be both so sloppily written and so central to the results that it’s contributed to a replication crisis, or put another way, a failure of the paper to perform its most basic task: to report what you’ve actually discovered, clearly enough that someone else can discover it for themselves." What comes next?
• The Haunting of Medical Journals: How Ghostwriting Sold “HRT” (Adriane J. Fugh-Berman, PLoS Med 7(9): e1000335, 9-7-10). Read the response by Adam Jacobs of the European Medical Writers Association.
• Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Ghostwriting (Project on Government Oversight, POGO, 8-10-11)
• Ethical Editing – Ghostwriting is an unhealthy practice (Ernesto Spinak, SciELO in Perspective, 1-16-14) The term Ghostwriter is defined as a professional writer who is employed to write works for which he will receive no official credit but will instead remain anonymous. He deplores "paper-writing factories" that crank out essays for students; ghostwriting of doctoral theses; and ghostwriting of biomedical research papers. "It can happen that a group of researchers may contract a professional writer to edit a document based on original research data, but it is the researchers who continue to maintain control of the written work by blocking marketing messages that are favorable to companies or products." Ethical problems arise, as when "pharmaceutical companies and the industries which produce medical technology may frequently distort the results produced by clinical trials. They may also not be impartial. These articles prepared by medical writers hired by the industries are then given to certain ;invited authors' who put their name to them in return for payment." ("Close to 50% of the publications on drugs used in psychiatry that are still under patent were written by ghostwriters.")
• Can Ghostwriting Be Considered Plagiarism? (David Rothschild, iThenticate, 8-17-11)
• What Should Be Done To Tackle Ghostwriting in the Medical Literature? (Peter C Gøtzsche, Jerome P Kassirer, Karen L Woolley, Elizabeth Wager, Adam Jacobs, Art Gertel, Cindy Hamilton, in PLoS, 2-3-09
• Ghost Management: How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry? (Sergio Sismondo, PLoS Med 4(9): e286, 9-25-07)
• Revealed: how drug firms 'hoodwink' medical journals (Antony Barnett, The Observer, 12-7-03). Pharmaceutical giants hire ghostwriters to produce articles - then put doctors' names on them
• Evidence in Vioxx Suits Shows Intervention by Merck Officials (Alex Berenson, NY Times, 4-24-05)
• Good Publication Practice for Pharmaceutical Companies Guidelines (Envision Pharma, 2006)
See much fuller set of links to articles on medical ghostwriting, in a section on Collaboration and ghostwriting
See also, under Ethics: Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing (another full set of links--clearly a rich subject) .
• Journalists as Characters: Using First-Person Narration to Drive Stories (Knvul Sheikh, The Open Notebook, 4-30-19) Science journalists usually frame stories around their sources. But as Knvul Sheikh writes, first-person anecdotes allow journalists to connect with readers by lending authority and emotional authenticity to stories, building up narrative tension, or lightening the tone of a piece. First-person can also be used to check personal biases and reveal conflicts of interest, avoid awkward phrasing, or breathe life into arcane concepts.
• Story Time (Rose Jacobs, Chronicle of Higher Education blog, 6-6-14). The traditional "nut graf" structure didn't help her engineering student write coherently, so 'I’ve been doing with my student what I did with those journalists: Demanding a narrative structure—stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end; stories with five Shakespearean acts; stories whose main points are made two-thirds of the way through—not in the first three paragraphs. Stories, in other words, with a structure we learn in childhood and that remains familiar throughout our lives....Research papers tell great stories—movements from what we used to know to what we know now and, in the middle, how we learned it. They’re plays in three acts where the subject is discovery."
• The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors (Heather Long, WaPo, 10-19-19) English majors are down 25.5 percent since the Great Recession, just as world’s top economists say we need more ‘storytellers.' 'Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller’s new book “Narrative Economics” opens with him reminiscing about an enlightening history class he took as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. He wrote that what he learned about the Great Depression was far more useful in understanding the period of economic and financial turmoil than anything he learned in his economic courses....The whole premise of Shiller’s book is that stories matter. What people tell each other can have profound implications on markets — and the overall economy. Examples include the “get rich quick” stories about bitcoin or the “anyone can be a homeowner” stories that helped drive the housing bubble.“Traditional economic approaches fail to examine the role of public beliefs in major economic events — that is, narrative,' Shiller wrote. “Economists can best advance their science by developing and incorporating into it the art of narrative economics.” And "Contrary to popular belief, English majors ages 25 to 29 had a lower unemployment rate in 2017 than math and computer science majors." '
• Storygram: Nicola Twilley’s “The Billion-Year Wave” (Rebecca Boyle, Storygrams, The Open Notebook, NASW, 9-11-18) Boyle annotates an award-winning story to shed light on what makes some of the best science writing so outstanding. The story: The Billion-Year Wave (Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, 2-11-16, reprinted with permission) 'Boyle provides insight into how Twilley brought out the human drama in the story while also revealing interesting details about the science itself. She also interviews Twilley about the story behind the story, asking about her thoughts on the piece and exploring particular scenes that made Boyle wonder: How many questions must she have needed to ask to get to these incredible gems? The Storygram series is a joint project of The Open Notebook and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing
• Crisis or self-correction: Rethinking media narratives about the well-being of science (Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 3-12-18). Jamieson discusses the implications of three alternative news narratives about science and its challenges, outlining ways in which those who communicate science can more accurately convey its investigatory process, self-correcting norms, and remedial actions, without in the process legitimizing an unwarranted “science is broken/in crisis” narrative. The three storylines are: (i) quest discovery, which features scientists producing knowledge through an honorable journey; (ii) counterfeit quest discovery, which centers on an individual or group of scientists producing a spurious finding through a dishonorable one; and (iii) a systemic problem structure, which suggests that some of the practices that protect science are broken, or worse, that science is no longer self-correcting or in crisis. Covering Health provides a version more helpful to science writers, perhaps: Nuance can help keep science ‘crises’ in context (Tara Haelle, AHCJ, 6-6-18)
• Telling science stories…wait, what’s a “story”? (Bora Zivkovic, A Blog Around the Clock, 7-13-11). " In the Inverted Pyramid approach to journalism, the first couple of sentences (the “lede”) provide the next most important information, and so on, with the least important stuff at the end. In many ways, it is the opposite of a narrative – the punch-line goes first, the build-up after. The beauty of the Inverted Pyramid for the writers and editors is that any article can be chopped up and made shorter....You can’t do that with a narrative, where clues can be hidden all along the way, and the grand solution comes close to the end."
• All about Stories: How to Tell Them, How They're Changing, and What They Have to Do with Science (Lena Groeger and Perrin Ireland, Scientific American, 6-6-11) Report on what a panel of science journalists said about how the Web is shaping and changing how stories are told. Carl Zimmer, Andy Revkin, Bora Zivkovic, Seth Mnookin, and Emily Bell talk about "everything from journalistic innovation to dealing with science (and anti-science) controversies, the role of science blogging to problems with peer-reviewed literature and pay walls, the changing nature of news consumption to the meaning of 'story.'" For example: "Don't just think of [blogging] as an outflow mechanism, this is a tool which will allow you to find collaborators, allow you to shape ideas and disseminate them as well." -Andy Revkin. "It might be harder to get jobs, but it's the most extraordinary time to be doing this." - Emily Bell. "Another arena that's shifting in the same way as print journalism is peer reviewed literature." - Carl Zimmer. "There have been a slew of recent examples of high profile papers that initially got a lot of traction in the mainstream media, but were eventually exposed to be full of errors. While the blogosphere can quickly act as a corrective, traditional science journals are still 'ossified in their response,' said Zimmer."
• Explaining Science (Gerard Piel, reported by Norman Bauman on his website -- December 2001.) Do a search and find this piece way down on the web page. "The narrative is the way to do exposition," said Piel. "That's the most painless way to explain." And Scientific American, of which he was the retired publisher, was "in the business of understanding, not information."
• Natural Narratives by Michael Pollan (Nieman Storyboard 2-16-07: Seven principles for writing about nature and science in ways that depart from the usual)
• Narrative Matters: The Power of the Personal Essay in Health Policy ed. by Fitzhugh Mullan, Ellen Ficken, and Kyna Rubin (a collection of personal stories of patients, physicians, policy makers, and others whose writings humanize health policy issues, drawn from the popular "Narrative Matters" column in the journal Health Affairs.
• Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences (Michael F. Dahlstrom, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, 9-16-14)
• Science & Story: The Art of Communicating Science Across All Media . at the World Science Festival in New York City, there was an entire day devoted to science story-telling, Presented in collaboration with the Paley Center for Media. Much material here and on the World Science Festival blog . See also some webcasts.
• Penny Bailey on science writing: 'You need to know how to tell a good story'
• The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains (Leo Widrich, Lifehacker, 12-5-12)
Narrative Medicine. Narrative Medicine workshops provide narrative training with stories of illness to enable "practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians." Here is a pageful of links to podcasts of Narrative Medicine Rounds, lectures or readings presented by scholars, clinicians, or writers engaged in work at the interface between narrative and health care. Rounds are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 5 to 6:30 pm in the Columbia University Medical Center Faculty Club, followed by a reception. Rounds are free and open to the public. Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner of Oral History Productions took and recommends an excellent intensive four-day workshop on Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. And here are some books on the subject: Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness by Rita Charon; Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process by Lewis Mehl-Medrona author of Coyote Wisdom: Healing Power in Native American Stories ; Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine, ed. Peter L. Rudnytsky and Rita Charon.
Narrative medicine and medical narrative (blogs, books, and other wonderful material on the subject--Pat McNees's links)
"People don't have a strong intuitive sense of how much bigger 1 billion is than 1 million. 1 million seconds is about 11 days. 1 billion seconds is about 315 years."--meme on social media
• Ask Dr. Math (The Math Forum, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). A question-and-answer service aimed at math students but others can use it to ask questions specifically about math and math problems.
• Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics Read free online. (Steven Woloshin, Lisa M. Schwartz, and H. Gilbert Welch, University of California Press, 2008) See tribute to Lisa Schwartz (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 12-3-18
• Dollars for Docs ( Mike Tigas, Ryann Grochowski Jones, Charles Ornstein, and Lena Groeger, ProPublica, updated 6-28-18) Has your doctor received drug or device company money? Pharmaceutical and medical device companies are required by law to release details of their payments to a variety of doctors and U.S. teaching hospitals for promotional talks, research and consulting, among other categories. Use this tool to search for general payments (excluding research and ownership interests) made from August 2013 to December 2016. Search for payments made by 17 drug companies between 2009 and 2013.
• Bars and Pies Make Better Desserts Than Figures (Thomas M. Annesley, Clinical Chemistry, Aug 2010) Pharmaceutical and medical device companies are required by law to release details of their payments to a variety of doctors and U.S. teaching hospitals for promotional talks, research and consulting, among other categories. Use this tool to search for general payments (excluding research and ownership interests) made from August 2013 to December 2016.
• Because patient advocacy groups aren’t always what they seem: A quick guide to nonprofit sleuthing (Mary Chris Jaklevic, HealthNewsReview, 10-12-17)" Journalists shouldn’t take organizations they report on at face value. Rather, they should ask who calls the shots and who provides the funding. And they should report findings that call into question a group’s credibility." A helpful guide for deep reporting on nonprofits. Where to find the documents that will give you the numbers.
• 11 questions journalists should ask about public opinion polls (Denise-Marie Ordway, Journalist's Resource, 6-4-18) Among them: Who paid for it? What's the margin of error? Were participants compensated? Also provides links to more tips on polling.
• Polling fundamentals and concepts: An overview for journalists (Leighton Walter Kille, Journalist's Resource, 11-10-16)
• Many journalists fail to question new Cancer Society colorectal cancer screening guidelines (Kevin Lomangino, HealthNewsReview, 5-31-18) The American Cancer Society (ACS) has updated its colorectal cancer screening guidelines, lowering the recommended age to start screening from 50 to 45. Missing from most stories about the rising rate among young men is any quantification of the actual rate of colon cancer in these groups, and few outlets challenged the narrative that more lives would be saved with an earlier start to screening and that the benefits would outweigh potential harms, which include bowel perforation and complications from anesthesia.
• How an arcane, new accounting standard is helping reporters follow the money (Mya Frazier, CJR, 5-29-18)
• Calculators and converters (online, for $$ and otherwise)
• Calendars, perpetual calendars, calendar converters, and time converters
• Health Spending Explorer (Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker)
• Majority, Plurality, and History (Andy Hollandbeck, Copyediting, 11-9-16) Majority vs. Plurality: The magic number of electoral votes a presidential candidate must win to achieve a majority — that is, 50 percent or more — is 270. But how they get those electoral votes from states doesn’t necessarily involve majorities.
• Math and statistics resources (Writers and Editors section on search engines)
• Math for Journalists: Help with Numbers (Poynter's News University). Free self-directed three-hour online course, which covers everything from reducing fractions and other math essentials to topics specifically for journalists, such as calculating cost of living and estimating crowd sizes. The goal: to make routine math routine.
• Metric prefixes (Wikipedia) What do exa-, peta-, tera-, mega-, kilo-, milli-, micro-, etc. mean?
• NewsNumbers.Info ( a reporter's guide to using numbers for better reporting and editing--for example, calculating property taxes, interpreting workforce numbers, using U.S. Census data correctly, and reporting on the cost of college sports (site created by Rich Exner, a data analysis editor at Cleveland.com)
• Newsroom Math Crib Sheet (Steve Doig, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University)
• Numbers and statistics glossary (PDF, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice) Brings clarity to differences between absolute risk, absolute risk reduction, number needed to treat (NNT), relative risk, relative risk reduction (numbers) and (statistics) p value, confidence interval, survival, and mortality.
• The Quartz guide to bad data (Quartz-GitHub) An exhaustive reference to problems seen in real-world data along with suggestions on how to resolve them.
• Number Watch (monitoring and correcting misleading scary numbers)
• Percentages in Text (Mark Allen, Copyediting, 11-8-16)
• STATS (a collaboration between Sense About Science USA and the American Statistical Association) Aims to improve statistical literacy among journalists, academic journal editors, and researchers; examines how numbers are distorted and statistics are misunderstood in the media and in society.
• Q&As about numbers (Chicago Manual of Style, online)
• Statistics Every Writer Should Know (RobertNiles.com, basic)
• STAT Politics Tracking how politics and policy intersect with science and health care
• Two Decimal Places in a Percentage Raises a Flag (Copyediting, 9-29-13) We don’t have all the information, so it could be right; but it’s probably wrong.
• Finding Stories in Financial Filing Footnotes (Erik Sherman, Business Journalism, 1-23-18)
• Why Teaching Data Journalism Is a Challenge at Most Universities (Kayt Davies, MediaShift, 2-5-18) "Data journalism is all-at-once the coolest, hardest and fastest changing kind of journalism there is, and that’s a hard thing to suddenly become competent enough in to stand up and teach." Our "exploration of the intricacies of cutting-edge data journalism is minimal for now. Yet, we are laying the groundwork, and by tackling the fears, we are setting people up for lifetimes of learning.... Other helpful advice that emerged from the study was to be bold about blended learning. One of my respondents said she required students to complete Lynda.com’s Excel Five-Day Challenge before starting her course, and another said she encouraged students to use Lynda.com when they were stuck."
• Well Sourced: IRS files help you X-ray health care finances (William Heisel, Center for Health Journalism, 3-13-15)
• Veteran journalist: Be skeptical of nonprofits’ claims, finances Ryan White, Center for Health Journalism, 2-28-13)
• When ‘fact-checked’ health news doesn’t tell the whole story (Joy Victory, HealthNewsReview, 3-28-18 ) On the surface, this headline from Healthline.com looks like a good thing: "New Drug Shows Promise in Treating Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis." HealthLine labeled the story fact-checked; Victory points out the flaws in the story (and the fact-checking).
• Why that corner health clinic might be flush with ill-gotten gains (Heilel, 7-23-10, Part 1 of a series). Part 2: Health scammers are hiding in plain sight (Heisel, 7-26-10) Fraud Fishing, Part 3: Following the Health Fraud Paper Trail (William Heisel, Center for Health Journalism, 7-30-10).
• Reporting on Hospital Charity Care: Crunching the Numbers (Sandy Kleffman, Center for Health Journaism, 11-9-11)
• Understanding and Interpreting Polls (Poynter's News University) Free self-directed, three-hour course which teaches journalists how to analyze survey data and determine the legitimacy of a poll.
• Understanding Uncertainty, Animations, etc. Animations explaining risk, survival, etc,)
• A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley
• News and Numbers: A Writer's Guide to Statistics by Victor Cohn and Lewis Cope with Deborah Cohn Runkle
• Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics by Steven Woloshin, Lisa M. Schwartz, and H. Gilbert Welch. See Truth in Numbers (Cathy Shufro, Dartmouth Medicine) "Schwartz and Woloshin tested the effectiveness of drug facts boxes in two randomized trials. In one trial, they used two heartburn drugs, giving each participant a print ad for both Amcid and Maxtor. Half of the participants were also given the brief summary written by the maker of the drug. The other half received drug facts boxes instead of the brief summary. The drug facts boxes led to a better understanding of the effectiveness of each drug....If you can do that for a product like Cocoa Krispies, why can't you do that for a product like Lunesta or Lipitor, where the stakes are so high?...We want doctors, the public, and policymakers to know what they can and cannot get from various medications, treatments, and interventions."
• Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You by Randall Bolten
• Behind the numbers: getting statistics right for men with prostate cancer (Amy Dyer, Prostate Cancer UK, 9-16-14)
• Are we ready to move beyond the p-value? Nicole Lazar, former editor of The American Statistician, guides ScienceWriters2019 attendees through the (alleged) “end of statistical significance.”
• $2.6 Billion to Develop a Drug? New Estimate Makes Questionable Assumptions (Aaron E. Carroll, The Upshot, NY Times, 11-18-14) Tufts says $2.6 billion, Public Citizen (Ralph Nader's advocacy group says $150 million. Carroll explains why they came to different numbers. Note: The Tufts Center is funded, to a large extent, by the pharmaceutical industry.) See also Drugs, Big Pharma, conflicts of interest, and why U.S. patients pay too much for medication
• Scientists Are About to Officially Change What a Kilogram Is (Mike McRae, Science Alert, 7-1-17)
• Advance Copy Backstories on books by members of the National Association of Science Writers. For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. See Archives and Submission guidelines.
•Advice for Grad Students(Greg Mankiw, 5-24-06)
• Science Sandbox Our mission is to unlock scientific thinking by engaging everyone with the process of science. We support projects that bring scientific concepts — and scientists — to the general public. Often, these projects allow participants to see scientific concepts in everyday life. Whether it means literally putting a research-grade lab on wheels and delivering it to schoolchildren or bringing high-quality science interactions to large mainstream events, we engage those who don’t think of themselves as scientific thinkers — and in situations where they least expect it. We give them the experience of being scientists themselves."
• Introducing the Diverse Voices Series (The Open Notebook, NASW, 10-9-18) In collaboration with NASW's Diversity Committee, and with funding from Science Sandbox (an initiative of the Simons Foundation), the series will feature voices, perspectives, and experiences of science journalists who are from communities or groups that are underrepresented in science journalism.
The Science Byline Counting Project: Where Are the Women—and Where Are They Not? (Cynthia Graber and Katharine Gammon, The Open Notebook, 2-10-16) "Of the 1,723 articles included in our analysis, female writers wrote 855 articles, and male writers wrote 867....For short articles, women’s bylines typically equaled and in some cases outnumbered men’s. But for longer front-of-book or back-of-book pieces, where writers have an opportunity to showcase their writing style and establish credentials that could lead to opportunities to write the more prestigious feature articles, men outnumbered women, in some cases by a factor of two or three to one." But read the article, as it's not a simple count.
• Is There a Gender Bias in Science Writing Awards? (Shannon Hal, CASW Showcase, 4-3-19) It's a close call.
• Recent science writing awards given by scholarly and professional organizations (CASW Showcase, 2019)
• Award-winning series can help you better understand medical studies (Gara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 12-6-16) Winners of the 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards included science journalist Christie Aschwanden of FiveThirtyEight, who received the Silver Award in the online category for a three-part series that every health journalist would do well to read, reread and bookmark.
---Science Isn't Broken (It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for), in which she described p-hacking, study biases and other important concepts in understanding research
---You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition, which "used the absurdity of a link found in one study between eating cabbage and having an innie belly button to illustrate potential problems in observational studies about nutrition." "She similarly describes the difficulty in prospective studies of tracking food, the challenge of too many variables and other limitations of nutrition studies, including the fact that “We expect far too much from them,” Aschwanden writes. “We want to answer questions like, what’s healthier, butter or margarine? Can eating blueberries keep my mind sharp? Will bacon give me colon cancer? But observational studies using memory-based measures of dietary intake are tools too crude to provide answers with this level of granularity.”
---Failure Is Moving Science Forward in which she 'explored the “reproducibility crisis” in science and why some real effects may not appear in studies that attempt to reproduce them. For health journalists in particular, this story is perhaps the most important of the three. Understanding replication and reproducibility are essential to providing context in stories about the latest study. In fact, her subsection “When studies conflict, which is right?” will be helpful to journalists frustrated with covering issues where the study findings seem to flip back and forth with each successive study.' “The thing to keep in mind is that no single study provides definitive evidence,” she wrote.
• Advice for Science Writers from Science Writers, Maryn McKenna's column about (and highlights from) a long blog Ed Yong opened up to the science-writing community: On the Origin of Science Writers. On Yong's blog you can read 146 personal accounts of how people got into science writing, with advice to those just starting in the field. Also on Yong's Discover blog Not Exactly Rocket Science, check out his amusing analysis of the science writing process.
• AHCJ links to resources for health care journalists (Association of Health Care Journalists)
• Alternative Income Sources for Writers, Norman Bauman's summary of an ASJA meeting on the subject in 2002, may be helpful, and be sure to see the material he added to his website: Catherine E. Oliver's on what's required for technical writing. Norman's other reports include How to find and price medical writing jobs (1999). For more such summaries, including an interesting piece on text retrieval and search engines, go to Bauman's website, Medical Writing in New York. See, for example, this thoughtful long piece on redesigning science magazines.
• American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)
• Are you an editor or a writer? How do you know? What are the crucial differences between the two specializations? The question arose when Slate science editor Laura Helmuth was visiting a class that Ann Finkbeiner teaches at the graduate program in science writing at Johns Hopkins University. Ann, hoping to help her students figure out whether they were natively editors or natively writers, asked Laura about the difference between writers and editors. Together they asked several science writers. editors, and writer-editors to describe the differences.
---Are you an editor or a writer? Part I: The writers. (posted by Christie Aschwanden, The Open Notebook, 1-16-13).
---Are you an editor or a writer? Part II: The editors. (posted by Christie Aschwanden, The Open Notebook, 1-16-13).
• Bad Science (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian) "Pulling bad science apart is the best teaching gimmick I know for explaining how good science works."
• Best Shortform Science Writing (Medium's regular "highly subjective round-up of standout science news")
• Beyond Text: Adding images, sound, story, humor, animation
• Health (NBC News) Interesting bits, like "New ultrasound treatment stops essential tremors" with tag line 'Burning a hole in the brain' can fix it. (Which is why this section used to be called 'The Body Odd' and described as 'podcast of weird medical questions')
• Bill Nye Saves the World (Netflix) Emmy-winning host Bill Nye brings experts and famous guests to his lab for a talk show exploring scientific issues that touch our lives. Review: How Bill Nye Saves the World Takes the Intimidation Factor Out of Science (Amy Glynn, Paste, 5-11-18) "Bill Nye is a very efficient conveyor of information laypeople probably really want, even if they weren’t aware of wanting it."
• Boning up on unfamiliar research areas can pay off with specialized knowledge, more assignments (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-16-19)
• Books discussed on 'Science Friday' book club
• Books for Science and Medical Writers
• Calculators and conversion tools
• Calendars, world clocks, perpetual calendars, calendar converters, and time converters
• Calendars, scientific. Scientific events calendars from around the world (Of schemes and memes blog, Nature, 10-18-11)
• CBO materials on healthcare and economics (Congressional Budget Office)
• CDC National Center for Health Statistics
• CDC Learning Network helps you locate learning products and resources from across the public health community.
• Center for Public Engagement with Science & Technology. Providing scientists and scientific institutions with the resources they need to have meaningful conversations with the public.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
• China’s problem with fake research papers (Frank Ching, Globe and Mail, 8-11-17)
• Citation-boosting episode leads to editors’ resignations, university investigation (Retraction Watch, 3-3-17) Series of items about "citation cartel" and an editor violating ethical guideline: “any manipulation of citations (e.g. including citations not contributing to a manuscript’s scientific content, citations solely aiming at increasing an author’s or a journal’s citations) is regarded as scientific malpractice.”
• Clinical trials
---Trial and Error (Naomi Elster, Variables/Essays and Opinions, Undark, 4-25-16). Should clinical trials be better regulated? Definitely. Should they be regulated out of existence? Definitely not.
---Checking out clinical trials (Coping with Cancer, comfortdying.com)
• The Cochrane Collaboration , an international organization that helps people make well-informed decisions about healthcare and health policy by preparing and maintaining high quality systematic reviews
• Coming to terms with six years in science: obsession, isolation, and moments of wonder (Justin Chen, STAT, 10-14-18) A reality check for those about to become graduate students in science.
• CONSORT statement. Guidelines in the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement are used worldwide to improve the transparent reporting of randomized, controlled trials.
• Conventional Forensic Theory on Order of Bugs That Feast on Corpses Upended (Alaina G. Levine, Scientific American, 9-13-12) Student entomologist Amanda Fujikawa's research in the Nebraska Sandhills shows that long-held beliefs in forensic entomology may need revision. Beetles might precede blowflies (not vice versa, as forensic entomology has long suggested), a finding that could change time of death and other calculations made by crime-scene investigators. Levine got that science story by keeping up with the local business news beat.
• Convert Me (and various other online conversion charts)
• Cool/nifty versus funny-smelling/fishy stories: Why we need both kinds (David Dobbs, Neuron Culture, Wired, 3-16-10)
• Cool science sites for children and teenagers:
---Cool science sites for young people
---Why Janie can't engineer: Raising girls to succeed
---YouTube learning channels to subscribe to
• Coping with cancer and critical illness
• Coping with chronic, rare, and invisible diseases, disorders, and disabilities
• Core Topics in Health Journalism (Association of Health Care Journalists, AHCJ). Invaluable sections for journalists writing about medicine and health care
---Social Determinants and Disparities
---Health information technology
• Dance your PhD (contest sponsored by AAAS and Science, challenging scientists to explain their research without PowerPoint slides or jargon—in fact with no talking at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting your Ph.D. or you completed it decades ago. All science should be explained with dance. Winner gets a cash prize ($1000 as of March 2019). See Dance Your PhD Contests (YouTube videos of annual winners
• Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines by Steve Talbott, as reviewed by Richard Mateosian for IEEE Micro, Thinking About Technology. Are we giving up too much of our humanity to technology?
• Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Directory of thousands of open access, peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly journals (which do not charge readers or their institutions for access), with link to journals' websites.
• Does it pay to know your Myers-Briggs type? (Washington Post graphic on the various Myers-Briggs types). Corporate America, the government and universities think so. They spend millions of dollars each year giving workers and students the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (based on Carl Jung’s work in psychological typology) to steer training programs and career goals. This graphic shows the 16 types and explains them in context of the Myers-Briggs philosophy. Here's the interesting companion article by Lillian Cunningham (Washington Post, 12-14-12)
• Dog Shows Are Like Too Much of Today’s Journalism (Jack Limpert, 2-14-18) Osborn “Oz” Elliott said that he "was seeing a shift in journalism away from a passion for good reporting to stories that had lots of attitude. Elliott said more journalists saw opinion and attitude as an easy way to get attention—and a bigger paycheck. He died 10 years ago, just as the Internet was further showing that there often is more money in cleverness and Twitter followers than in good reporting....Bet on good journalism—the kind done by the New York Times and Washington Post—to be the key to who survives in the digital age. And hope that someday a Lab or Golden Retriever will win the big dog show."
• Do You Need a Science Degree to Be a Science Reporter? (Aneri Pattani, The Open Notebook, NASW, 8-21-18) How a science degree may work in your favor, and some drawbacks: an excellent, practical discussion.
• The End of Science Writing by Jon Franklin (Alfred and Julia Hill Lecture, 1997)
• Environmental Health News and archives.
• Equipment and Software for Medical Writers (PDF, a compilation of collective wisdom from subscribers to The Hittlist). Emma Hitt teaches a six-week course in medical writing.
• EurekAlert. Science news that's just a click away. Portals for the public, reporters, and embargoes news; a resource for reporters,a tool for public information officers (PIOs). A public service project of the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science. EurekAlert Links & Resources
• European Guide to Science Journalism Training (2010)
• Evaluating an Assertion (Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth, CECS)
• The Fallacy Files (analysis of various logical fallacies)
• FAQ for new and aspiring science writers (National Association of Science Writers)
• FDA Approved Prescription Drug Information (big database of information on prescription drugs)
• **A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers, edited by Deborah Blum, Mary Knudson, and Robin Marantz Henig. For an interesting interview on becoming a science writer, listen to Robin Marantz Henig (Longform podcast episode 193, interviewed by Evan Ratliff, May 2016)
• The Final, Terrible Voyage of the Nautilus (May Jeong, Wired, 2-15-18) Kim Wall went for a ride on a private submarine, hoping to write a story about a maker of "extreme machines." She never did. Her friend May Jeong investigated her death.
• Finding the Science in Any Story ( Kate Morgan, The Open Notebook, National Association of Science Writers, 11-27-18) For a freelancer, finding a scientific angle on a trending news topic can make a pitch pleasantly unexpected, and more likely to pique an editor’s interest. Cari Romm Nazeer, a former editor at The Cut who now heads up Medium’s service and advice section, says “When you take a story and try to extract science from it, it can sometimes make that thing a little more relatable, and it can be a fresher way of getting into a story that readers aren’t used to.”
• ‘The Finkbeiner Test’ (Curtis Brainard, CJR, 3-22-13) Seven rules to avoid gratuitous gender profiles of female scientists.
• 5 Tips for Journalists Covering Mental and Behavioral Health (Katia Savchuk, NiemanStoryboard, 1-18-18) Reporters too often fall back on dated stereotypes, distort the nature of illnesses and recovery and rely on shaky sources, speakers at workshop say
• ‘Forbidden Stories’ aims to keep the investigations of threatened journalists alive (Simone Flueckiger, WAN-IFRA blog, 4-6-18) Amid the growing threat to journalists’ safety in many parts of the world, a collaborative project called Forbidden Stories is working towards combating this unsettling trend by pursuing the stories of journalists who can no longer continue their work because they have been threatened, imprisoned or killed.
• For National Geographic, an Exploration of Race (and Commercial Opportunity) (Michael Schulson, UnDark, 4-9-18) That the magazine’s mea culpa on race comes coupled with the peddling of its branded genetic testing kits seems odd — and maybe even downright cynical.
• FrameWorks Institute Changing the conversation on social issues. Mapping the gaps on elder abuse. Framing immigration reform. How to frame informal STEM learning for maximum effect. Building new narrative on human services. Communicating the complex. Gender and justice. Etc.
• A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health (download PDF version for free). National Academies Press. Scroll down to see more such titles, all of which sell for fairly high prices but at least most of which can be downloaded free in PDF versions.
•The Future of Science Journalism, audio-recorded talks from a Knight-sponsored two-day symposium in Cambridge on where the field is heading.
•Geology. Rebecca Boyle Excavates Earth’s Earliest History (interviewed by Julia Rosen, The Open Notebook, 4-3-18) “I like geology [because] it makes you realize how fleeting our experience is here. It helps me feel less anxiety maybe about my own life, because Earth has been here a really long time....The more I cover geophysics and planetary science and physics, the more I find that we are all trying to understand what the hell is going on here. Why are we here? How did we get here? … I like writing about geology because you can kind of go back through time to try to answer that question.”
• Getting Started in Science Journalism (The Open Notebook: The story behind the best science stories) A TON series (of which the following are only a few examples):
---Do You Need a Science Degree to Be a Science Reporter? (Aneri Pattani, TON, 8-21-18)
---Finding and Landing the Right Internship in Science Writing (Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, TON, 5-23-17)
---Ask TON: Breaking Into Science Writing (TON Editors, 7-30-13)
---How to Use Reporting Skills from Any Beat for Science Journalism (Aneri Pattani, TON, 4-24-18)
---Ask TON: What Does a Science Writing Master’s Program Get You? ( TON Editors, 12-3-12)
---The Intern's Survival Guide ( Rachael Lallensack, TON, 8-28-18)
---Trading the Pipette for the Pen: Transitioning from Science to Science Writing (Julia Rosen, TON, 6-16-15)
---Finding the Science in Any Story (Kate Morgan, TON, 11-27-18)
---Why Is It So Hard for Foreign Journalists to Break into U.S. and European Outlets? (Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, TON, 8-29-17)
•Going Digital: Inside New Science Journalism Outlets (Rachel Zamzow, The Open Notebook, 1-16-18) A discussion between Deborah Blum, publisher of Undark; Gideon Gil, managing editor at STAT; Virginia Hughes, science editor at BuzzFeed News; Jude Isabella, editor-in-chief at Hakai Magazine; Alison Snyder, science editor at Axios.
• A Guide to Translating Science to Audio (Aneri Pattani, The Open Notebook, 6-26-18) "Science Friday’s Key to Live Science Radio: Find Guests Who Bring Research to Life." How it's done on Science Friday ("Find guests who bring research to life"), Science Vs ("Make interviews fun and irreverent"), and Radiolab ("Keeping things conversational"-- putting listeners "inside the experience of the characters"). Listen to Science Friday (Ira Flatow's wonderful show on NPR); Science VS (Gimlet), and RadioLab (WNYC Studios, New York Public Radio).
Healthcare Hashtag Project . Discover where the healthcare conversations on Twitter are taking place, discover who to follow within your specialty or disease or on a specific topic, and find the best from conferences or moderated chats in real time or in archives (for example, there are lively discussions at #eldercarechat and there is a whole page on breast cancer hashtags). See
• Hashtags by disease
• Hashtags by conference
• HIPAA: How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 affects historical research). See HIPAA: How HIPAA Affects Research Efforts (Juliann Schaeffer, For the Record, July 2017). See also Influence of the HIPAA Privacy Rule on Health Research (Roberta B. Ness, JAMA, 11-14-07), Access anxiety: HIPAA and historical research. (SC Lawrence, J Hist Med Allied Sci., via PubMed, 10-2007), among several articles on the subject.
• Hospice care and palliative care
• How many interviews? (Jeanne Erdmann, Ask TON, TheOPENNotebook, 7-16-13)
• How health statistics can mislead (Andrew Van Dam, Covering Health, AHCJ, 12-9-09)
• How Much Should I Charge? (Writers and Editors)
• How to access paywalled scientific journal articles (Open access and open science--scroll down for this section).
• How to break into science writing using your blog and social media (Bora Zivkovic, The SA Incubator, The next generation of science writers and journalists.Scientific American, 4-2-13). Excellent advice for aspiring science writers.
• How to Conduct Difficult Interviews (Mallory Pickett, The Open Notebook, NASW, 12-11-18) It's okay to be nervous, but it's essential to be prepared. See A Cheat Sheet for Difficult Interviews
• How to get your start in science writing, Ed Yong gathered responses to that question from 145 science writers; they were published in Discover Magazine as On the Origin of Science Writers
• How to Research the Medical Literature About Cancer (how to use databases and online resources); How to access Medline and other medical databases,, and How to get basic information about your cancer online
• How to Stand Out in the Noisy Freelance Space (Jennifer Gregg, Write & Prosper) After a client praised her work, she said she didn't know why her work stood out. "That’s when my client said something that really surprised me. “I’ll tell you what you’re doing. You use topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs. You create logic and flow between ideas. You make it easy for someone to understand the narrative of the story…” She didn't write in academese.
• How to tell good research from bad: 13 questions journalists should ask (Denise-Marie Ordway, Journalist's Resource, 3-21-17)
• How to Use Reporting Skills from Any Beat for Science Journalism (Aneri Pattani, TheOpenNotebook, 8-24-18) For years, Alaina Levine wrote about business and public relations, food and nightlife. Writing about business taught her how to break through the army of public relations specialists surrounding prominent executives" to get "access for in-depth profiles—a skill she now uses in covering technology." And writing advice columns in a brief space helped her focus on "key takeaways—a skill she now puts to use distilling complex research or the most significant impacts of a new scientific discovery." Similarly, covering student loans, personal finance, and small business helped Christina Couch "develop a healthy level of skepticism," which helps her understand the "very concrete reasons" much-hyped technologies often don't pan out. And life as a foreign correspondent taught Donald G. McNeil Jr. that not everyone processes things the way Americans do, so the first question he asks as a global health reporter is 'What do you think made you sick?'
• How to write consistently boring scientific literature (PDF, Kaj Sand-Jensen, Boring Writing, 1-25-07)
• H2ODotCon (water related pseudoscience fantasy and quackery, sorting legitimate claims about water from claims that various kinds of water reverse aging, prevent cancer, etc.
Human Body Maps (HealthLine interactive online tool)
The Humdrum Events of Modern Medicine's Underbelly: A Guided Tour (Abigail Zuger, MD, in NY Times, reviews White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine by Carl Elliott (the pharmaceutical industry, of course).
Humor among peer reviewers. César Sánchez, in his blog Twisted Bacteria, quotes from the annual December issue of Environmental Microbiology, which features humorous quotes peer reviewers made while assessing manuscripts submitted to the journal.
ICJME Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors). See also ICJME's Guiding Principles for the Development of Policies on Sharing Clinical Trials Data (January 2014)
• In memory of Vera Rubin, the woman the Nobel Prize forgot (Rachel Feltman, Popular Science, 12-27-16) Vera Rubin, who essentially created a new field of astronomy by discovering dark matter, was a favorite to win the Nobel Prize in physics for years. But she never received her early-morning call from Stockholm. On Sunday, she died at the age of 88.... An argument frequently heard against Rubin's Nobel-worthiness is that dark matter is still technically theoretical. Some scientists are still working to come up with alternate theories to explain the behavior of the Universe....This would be a great argument, if not for the fact that the men who discovered dark energy—no less important than dark matter, but no less "theoretical" either—were honored with the prize in 2011. And their observations took place a good 20 years after Rubin did her work."
• The Index of Banned Words (The Continually Updated Edition) (Carl Zimmer, The Loom, Discover, 11-30-09) An outgroup of a list of words he banned from his science writing class at Shoals Marine Lab. Starts with: Access (verb), And/or (Logic gates do not belong in prose), Anthropogenic, Breakthrough (unless you are covering Principia Mathematica), and so on.
• In lofty quest to map human memories, a scientist journeys deep into the mind of a worm (Justin Chen, STAT, 8-13-18) “With science,” Lee said, “you might not know exactly where the research will take you, but you trust that when you arrive all the effort will have been worth it.”
• The Inside Story Of How An Ivy League Food Scientist Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies (Stephanie M. Lee, Buzzfeed, 2-25-18) Brian Wansink won fame, funding, and influence for his science-backed advice on healthy eating. Now, emails show how the Cornell professor and his colleagues have hacked and massaged low-quality data into headline-friendly studies to “go virally big time.”
• Instructions to Authors in the Health Sciences (Mulford Health Science Library, University of Toledo) links to websites that provide instructions to authors for over 6,000 journals in the health and life sciences.
• ****Interviews with science writers (wonderful series on THE OPEN NOTEBOOK: The story behind the best science stories).
• Interviewing for Career-Spanning Scientist Profiles ( Alla Katsnelson, TheOPENNotebook, 3-27-18) When done well, “legacy” profiles reveal something that’s usually hidden: how the swirl of a person’s inner world connects with the accomplishments they make in their outer world. For every answer you get, ask five more questions, says Banaszynski. “The first answer will probably be very general. Stay in the moment and peel it back.” Ask about Turning Points, Failures, and Oddball Details. Download A Crowd-Sourced Cheat-Sheet for Career-Spanning Profile Interviews.
• Investigating Science: All Hands on Deck (Liza Gross, 7-3-18) A plea to save HealthNewsReview.org, with its valuable peer reviews of health research.
• Journal Authors: Intellectual property landlords--or migrant workers? (Dan Carlinsky for ASJA). This article appears to be no longer online, but the title is so good I am keeping it here, as a place marker and a warning to journals that it could come back.
• Journalists aren't quoting women in science articles. Diverse Sources is changing that. (Gabriel Greschler, Student Press Law Center, 3-19-18) The website/database is a tool for journalists to contact underrepresented scientists for interviews.
• John Cochran's Writing Tips for Ph.D. Students (PDF, John Cochran, University of Chicago, 6-8-05)
• John Rennie’s tips for effective science communication Scroll down for these four tips, in the article 'Award-winning science writer offers advice on how to “share the wonder” of science' (McMaster University Daily News, 3-15-18)
• Junk Food Science. Critical examinations of studies and news on food, weight, health and healthcare, and our world -- information mainstream media misses. Debunks popular myths, explains science, and exposes fraud that affects your health. Plus some fun food for thought. For readers not afraid to question and think critically to get to the truth.
• Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues. Invaluable.
• Kaiser Health News (KHN) (Must reading for keeping up with health care and medical news) Subscribe, health care journalists and writers!
• The Knight Science Journalism Tracker & Robin Williams (Tabitha M. Powledge, On Science blogs, 8-15-14) RIP Knight Science Journalism Tracker, sort of...
• The Laryngospasms, a group of certified registered nurse anesthetists, create and perform medical parodies (check the videos, including "Waking Up Is Hard to Do")
• The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas. This provocative book explores in personal, poetic essays to topics such as computers, germs, language, music, death, insects, and medicine. Lewis Thomas writes, "Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by and large, good for us."
"Lying is done with words and also with silence." --Adrienne Rich
• Mad cows, Oprah Winfrey and communicating the science in a high-profile court case (Larry Lemmons and Asheley R. Landrum, The Conversation, 2-23-18) In this case, the jury determined the media’s First Amendment protections outweighed the defamation concerns presented by the plaintiffs. Ironically, because of the media focus on the trial, the perspectives of the cattle industry were also highlighted. The public got the message that there was little evidence that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) threatened American livestock in a substantial way. Media professionals still struggle with knowing how to best explain and condense complex science and public health issues in ways that won’t inappropriately trigger defensiveness, denial or fear.
• Making the leap from news to books: Critical questions (The Open Notebook--The story behind the best science stories). The questions that go into books might be different from those that drive newspaper and magazine journalism. With that in mind, Charles Quoi asked six successful science authors (Deborah Blum, David Dobbs, Matthew Hutson, Maggie Koerth-Baker, Maryn McKenna, and Carl Zimmer) what questions they have found themselves asking — of themselves or of their sources — when writing books. Are there essential questions that journalists might not ask but which book authors should? Interesting responses. And David Dobbs took the opportunity to write a piece for Wired: “How Full of Sh*t Are They?” and Other Questions Writers Ask (June 2012)
Mental health and substance abuse services
• Mental health services locator, by state (SAMHSA, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)
• Resources for covering insurance and its role in addiction treatment (Joseph Burns, Covering Health, AHCJ, 1-27-17) Members of the Association of Health Care Journalists can access a tip sheet on the topic.
• National Addiction Rehab Locator
• Find Support & Programs (NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness)
• Coping with chronic, rare, and invisible diseases and disorders (Dying, Surviving, and Aging with Grace--not in that order)
• Mis)understanding Science: The Problem with Scientific Breakthroughs (James P. Evans, Hastings Center Report, 9-21-16) Breakthroughs like Watson and Crick's into the mysteries of how genetic info is transmitted happen once or twice a century. "The story is just so good and so irresistible that it has misled generations of scientists about what to expect regarding a life in science. And more damaging, the resulting breakthrough mentality misleads the public, the media, and society's decision-makers about how science really works, all to the detriment of scientific progress and our society's well-being....Science is a sputtering course, filled with dead-ends, U-turns, and blind leads; it's not a smooth, relentless trajectory."
• Money talks: when the borders between adverts and editorial content merge (Katherine Staines, Association of British Science Writers, 5-31-11)
• Mosaic Magazine (an archive of articles published by the National Science Foundation's flagship magazine, 1970-92) and Like a Phoenix (Earle Holland's "On Research" blog about that period of rich science writing)
National Capital Area Skeptics (NCAS, promoting critical thinking and scientific understand). See its links to useful organizations, resources.
National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF)
National Health Policy Forum (NHPF) at George Washington University
National Library of Medicine (excellent links to health and medical information and databases), National Institutes of Health
Nature podcasts. Each week Nature publishes a free audio show. Listen online to the archived podcasts
Nature vs. Science (Tales from the Road PhD Comic on the rivalry between the two magazines, part 2) and Part 1,, by Jorge Cham
Next generation of science media: Where's the money? (Andy Extance reports on an interesting meeting of the Association of British Science Writers, 5-22-11)
***News and Numbers: A Guide to Reporting Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health and Other Fields by Victor Cohn and Lewis Cope
Newswise Theme Wires Calendar. Professional journalists can sign up to receive Newswise news alerts, access to embargoed news, and contact info for expert sources. There is a Daily Wire, a Science Wire, a Medical Wire, a Life Wire, and a Business Wire.
• Michelle Nijhuis’s Brief Guide to Writing Reported Essays (Michelle Nijhuis, The Open Notebook, 2-23-16)
• On the Fine (and Difficult) Art of Science Writing: When Even Science Isn't An Exact Science (Randi Hutter Epstein, Lit Hub, 7-17-19) Epstein (the author of Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” said Einstein. Epstein explores how uncertain a science medical science is, which makes writing about hormones tricky.
• Online resources for science writers (National Association of Science Writers). This led me, for example, to Use Search Operators To Find Stories, Sources and Documents Online (Meranda Watling, 10,000 Words, Media Bistro 4-19-11)
Open access journals
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Directory of thousands of open access, peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly journals (which do not charge readers or their institutions for access), with link to journals' websites.
PLoS--Public Library of Science (open access documents)
• Open Journal Systems (Public Knowledge Project, a multi-university initiative developing (free) open source software and conducting research to improve the quality and reach of scholarly publishing)
• Open journals that piggyback on arXiv gather momentum (Elizabeth Gibney, Nature, 1-4-16) Peer-review platforms built around online pre-print repositories spread to astrophysics.
****The Open Notebook (the stories behind the best science stories). Great material for science writers. See, for example, behind-the-story interviews , elements of craft, natural habitat (where science writers share their working spaces -- offices, spare bedrooms, coffee shops, hammocks -- and the accoutrements that help them do their work), and other resources. I particularly liked Robin Marantz Henig's account of writing about anxiety for the New York Times Magazine., one of many interesting Open Notebook interviews about the writing process , the stories behind the stories.
Our Cluttered Mind, Jonah Lehrer's review (NYTimes 5-27-10) of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, who wrote Is Google Making Us Stupid? for The Atlantic (July/August 2008).
PepsiGate linkfest (Bora Zivkovic, on A Blog Around the Clock, posts links to all key posts about the event). David Disalvo writes about it in PepsiGate’ Rocks the Science Blogging World (TrueSlant 7-8-10). Roughly: SEED magazine, owner of the well-regarded ScienceBlogs network, "decided to allow Pepsi to have its own blog on the network, called 'Food Frontiers'–which, of course, they would pay for, not unlike a block of continuous advertising space. Many bloggers at ScienceBlogs are not happy about this. The standard for any credible science journalism network is that writers earn their space on merit, not because they have products to pitch."
Pigasus Award, annual tongue-in-cheek awards (dubious awards for dubious claims)presented as 5 Worst Promoters of Nonsense by noted skeptic James Randi to expose parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds
• Scholars Talk Writing An excellent series at the Chronicle of Higher Education. See, for example: How a Literary Agent Views Academic Books (Rachel Toor interviews Susan Rabiner, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7-14-19) Valuable Q&A about writing a serious nonfiction book. If "you don’t understand the need to make an argument in scholarly writing, you don’t understand scholarship. That’s what my many years as a university-press editor taught me. Young scholars have difficulty getting a precise handle on exactly what argument entails because it refers both to how you move through facts to reach a conclusion and to the conclusion you reach — as in, 'What argument does the book make?'...argument is also what allows even the most densely intellectual material to be successfully shaped and structured into a narrative — which is another way of saying it provides the connective thread that takes the readers from facts to resolution in a way that holds their attention, indeed keeps them wanting more."
Science Alert. Click on envelope icon to get Science Alerts daily by email.
Science as Falsification (Sir Karl R. Popper, excerpt from Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge--something on the philosophy of science that my godson recommends. You can listen to Popper explaining the same thing on YouTube. And here's Wikipedia's summary of Popper's claim to solve the philosophical problem of induction.
Science as a journalism ghetto: Conversation with Dan Vergano: the Science Ghetto with Ann Finkbeiner. Do check out the comments. An important and interesting conversation about why science doesn't have a higher seat at the journalism table.
The Science Byline Counting Project: Where Are the Women—and Where Are They Not? (Cynthia Graber and Katharine Gammon, Open Notebook, 2-10-16) "For short articles, women’s bylines typically equaled and in some cases outnumbered men’s. But for longer front-of-book or back-of-book pieces, where writers have an opportunity to showcase their writing style and establish credentials that could lead to opportunities to write the more prestigious feature articles, men outnumbered women, in some cases by a factor of two or three to one....At nearly all publications we examined, men published more in-depth feature stories than women did." And so on.
Science careers blog (Science, various contributors)
Science Daily (news digests on a range of topics)
Science Friday (Ira Flatow's fascinating radio show--"making science radioactive"TM -- listen live (Fridays 2 to 4 EDT) or to archived shows)
Science in Society Journalism Awards
Scienceline (a a student-run online magazine published by NYU's science, health, and environmental reporting program, SHERP).
Science Podcasts (Science Magazine, with archives from 2005 on)
Science Shortform or SciShortform (Best Shortform Science Writing, at Medium.com) The Best Shortform Science Writing project highlights standout science writing. Curated quarterly. To nominate pieces tag them @SciShortform on Twitter with a link to the piece. Or tag them #scicomm #scistory #sciencemedia. See also SciShortform Q&As (interviews with authors).
The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete (James Somers, The Atlantic, 4-5-18) Scientific papers haven't changed much since they their origins in the 1600s. Now they are long, full of jargon and symbols, dependent on "chains of computer programs that generate data, and clean up data, and plot data, and run statistical models on data. These programs tend to be both so sloppily written and so central to the results that it’s contributed to a replication crisis, or put another way, a failure of the paper to perform its most basic task: to report what you’ve actually discovered, clearly enough that someone else can discover it for themselves." What comes next?
Sciseek (once a science search engine and directory, now "we do science content curation, providing relevant and compelling science content")
Science writer is quite the specimen himself: He's 94 (Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 2-21-13). The San Francisco Chronicle's David Perlman churned out 111 stories last year and is still going strong. Not bad for someone born before the discovery of penicillin and Pluto.
Sci-Hub v. greedy American publishers like Elsevier
• Researcher illegally shares millions of science papers free online to spread knowledge (Fiona MacDonald, Science Alert, 2-12-16). Welcome to Sci-Hub, the Pirate Bay of science. "A researcher in Russia [ Alexandra Elbakyan} has made more than 48 million journal articles - almost every single peer-reviewed paper every published - freely available online. And she's now refusing to shut the site down, despite a court injunction and a lawsuit from Elsevier, one of the world's biggest publishers." Interesting dilemma and discussion.
• Global publishing giant [Elsevier] wins $15 million damages against researcher for sharing publicly-funded knowledge(Glyn Moody, Privacy News Online, 6-29-17) As a copyright person posted on a copyright listserv, here "copyright is being used as a big stick rather than an enabler." As the article states, "most of the work writing, checking and editing a paper is carried out completely for free. The only costs that academic publishers incur are typically for production, which are limited if publication is purely digital, as is increasingly the case. Given the extremely efficient nature of the academic publishing system, it will come as no surprise to learn that leading companies in the sector – including Elsevier – have consistently achieved profit margins between 30% and 40%, levels almost unheard of in other industries. Such elevated profit margins have come as the prices paid by academic libraries to subscribe to titles have increased rapidly. While the cost of living increased by 73% between 1986 and 2004, the expenditure by research libraries on subscriptions to academic journals went up by 273% in the same period." Which type of piracy is the more egregious?
• See also this very important piece in the Times: Should All Research Papers Be Free? (Kate Murphy, SundayReview, NY Times, 3-12-16), follow-up analysis to the suit against Alexandra Elbakyan but also about the scholarly journals' paywalls she denounced, in which the "largest companies, like Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Springer and Wiley, typically have profit margins of over 30 percent, which they say is justified because they are curators of research, selecting only the most worthy papers for publication. Moreover, they orchestrate the vetting, editing and archiving of articles."
"In response to the suit filed against her, Ms. Elbakyan wrote a letter to the judge pointing out that Elsevier, like other journal publishers, pays nothing to acquire researchers’ studies. Moreover, publishers don’t pay for the volunteer peer reviewers or editors. But they charge those same researchers, reviewers and editors, not to mention the public, whose tax dollars most likely funded the study in the first place, to read the resulting articles."
“That is very different from the music or movie industry, where creators receive money from each copy sold,” Ms. Elbakyan wrote. “I would like to also mention that we never received any complaints from authors or researchers.”
Scott Kelly’s medical monitoring has spawned some horrific press coverage (John Timmer, Ars Technica, 3-15-18) Analysis: Don't believe the headlines. And in many cases, the articles below them. First he explains a few points, then he points to publications that got the science wrong. Two lessons for newsrooms: It's a bad idea to rush to hit stories just because you see coverage of them elsewhere—especially in cases where the story is more than a year old. And you probably shouldn't be covering stories if you don't have anyone on staff who specializes in that subject area.
Secrets of Good Science Writing (excellent Guardian blog, in honor of the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize , sponsored by the Guardian and the Observer). A mere selection, from more than 50 blog entries:
---David Dobbs on science writing: 'hunt down jargon and kill it' (David Dobbs, The Guardian, 4-19-13)
---Mo Costandi on science blogging ('You've nothing to lose')
---Mo Costandi on science writing: a good story conveys wonderment (4-22-13)
---Jacob Aron on science writing: 'Analogies are like forklift trucks'
---Michael Hanlon on science writing: 'You need a bullshit detector'
---Linda Geddes on science writing: 'There is always another side to the story'
---Geoff Brumfiel on science writing: 'Search out the voices you disagree with'
---Helen Pearson on science writing: 'Surprise me!'
---Penny Bailey on science writing: 'You need to know how to tell a good story'
---Roger Highfield on science writing: 'Grab them with your first sentence'
---Louisa Young: 'You can't go mucking about with science' (video)
---Jo Marchant on science writing: 'You need a burning curiosity'
---Tim Radford on science writing: 'Don't be afraid to ask simple questions'
---A voyage of discovery: how the best science writers keep you enthralled (Ed Yong) Rather than being laden from the outset with jargon, good writing will draw readers in and reward them for their attention.
Sciline. Connecting reporters with experts, Sciline wants to improve the quality of today’s science reporting (Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2-14-18) Sciline, a new nonprofit that’s trying to improve the quality of science reporting by making it easier for reporters to connect with experts who can help guide them through stories about science, health, and the environment. Sciline director Rick Weiss, a veteran science reporter, says that the project comes at a vital time for both the production and distribution of science reporting. “We have a situation right now where there are fewer reporters who know the science deeply, and there are more opportunities for them to get taken off track or fooled into believing and writing stories that are wrong,” says Weiss.
Seven Days of Heroin. • Notable Narrative: The Cincinnati Enquirer’s stunning “Seven Days of Heroin” (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 9-25-17) As far as Terry DeMio knows, she’s the only journalist in the country with the title “heroin reporter.” She’s been covering the opioid epidemic for The Cincinnati Enquirer for five years, including two on the beat full time. Over one week in July, the paper sent out more than 60 reporters, photographers and videographers to document the impact of heroin in Greater Cincinnati. “We just wanted to show people: This is what a heroin epidemic looks like.” Listen: SEVEN DAYS OF HEROIN: 911 calls for overdoses at a library and at a park (Video, Cincinnati.com, 9-8-17) 911 calls for overdoses Monday, July 10 at the Covedale Library and Rapid Run Park in Cincinnati.
7 Words (and more) You Shouldn’t Use in Medical News (HealthNewsReview)
Show Me the Money: The Economics of Freelance Science Journalism ( Rose Eveleth and Rachel Nuwer, TheOPENNotebook--"The story behind the best science stories"--11-5-13) Good information and good tips.
• Six Tips for Aspiring Science Writers (Aaram A. Kumar, Science Center, 2-20-17) #1: Know your audience. "The language you use to describe the mechanism of action of a new anticancer drug to a physician would be different from what you use to explain how it works to your grandma..."
Society for Scholarly Publishing. See its list of sustaining and supporting organizational members and its excellent blog, The Scholarly Kitchen "What's hot and cooking in scholarly publishing"
So you want to be a science writer (PDF file, Association of British Science Writers)
Starting a Career in Science Writing (Andrew Fazekas, Jim Austin, Science, 5-20-05, replete with links to similarly useful articles)
STATS (examining how numbers are distorted and statistics are misunderstood in the media and in society)
Survival Secrets for Freelance Science Writers (Andrew Fazekas, Science, 5-20-05)
Spellex (test your medical spelling aptitude)
Spurious Correlations (for when you want a good and amusing example)
Take the Strange and Make it Familiar: Advice on Science Writing (Muhammad Hamza Waseem and Iqra Naveed, Student Blog, PLOS ECR Community, 1-23-18) (ECR=early career research) Interview with astronomy author Marcia Bartusiak: "The goal in science writing is not to teach science but to take away the fear factor. You want people to realize “Oh my gosh! I can understand quantum chromodynamics,” because you have written it in such an engaging way!" "Bartusiak was of the opinion that the two hardest things for her science writing students at MIT is finding the right story and conveying it in an engaging manner for the public. For ECRs, the hardest part is perhaps the latter one, i.e., effective science storytelling for bigger lay audiences. As science journalism gains more acceptance in the scientific community, it becomes more important than ever for ECRs to engage with the general audience through popular writing."
Technical writers, which skill sets are important for (Writing Assistance, Inc.). See also
• How technical writers add value to your team
• Technical writers as subject matter experts
• Technical writers are communicators
10 Questions To Distinguish Real From Fake Science (Emily Willingham, who writes about the science they're selling you, for Forbes, 11-8-12 -- read the comments, too). Originally published on Double X Science
Tips for Aggrieved Science Writers (Michael Schulson, Undark: Truth, Beauty, Science, 7-7-17) When freelance science journalists don’t get paid, or face other obstacles with publishers, there are resources that can help. There should be more.
Tip sheets for health care journalists and experts (available only to members of the Association of Health Care Journalists). Tip sheet topics include Statistical errors even you can find, What you need to know about risks, rates and ratios, Medicine 101: Words, numbers and journals, Resources for covering mental health and the military, Sources and resources for journalists covering aging, Digging into hospital finances, Domestic violence, budgets and the economy, Problems faced by ethnic minorities, Investigating health care fraud, How well does your state oversee nurses, many more -- great resources!
Tipsheet: For Reporting on Drugs, Devices and Medical Technologies (The Commonwealth Fund)
Tips for Understanding Studies (HealthNewsReview.org).
Tip sheets on covering medical issues
Covering Medical Research: A Guide for Reporting on Studies by Gary Schwitzer, one of several Slim Guides published by the Association of Health Care Journalists, with the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. Other slim guides available free, online:
• Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes
• Navigating the CDC: A Journalist's Guide to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web Site
• Covering Obesity: A Guide for Reporters
• Covering Hospitals: Using Tools on the Web.
Tips on scientific writing from European Science Editors, on Sharmanedit, drawn from EASE Guidelines for Authors and Translators of Scientific Articles to be Published in English (PDF, June 2011)
PHIL (Public Health Image Library), an organized, universal electronic gateway to CDC's images "organized into hierarchical categories of people, places, and science" and "presented as single images, image sets, and multimedia files" for use by "public health professionals, the media, laboratory scientists, educators, students, and the worldwide public to use this material for reference, teaching, presentation, and public health messages."
****Pitch Database (TheOPENNotebook)
PLoS--Public Library of Science (open access documents)
Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors (Steve Silberman, PLoS blog, 6-2-11) With wonderfuil tips from Carl Zimmer, David Shenk, Cory Doctorow, Bill Wasik, Geoff Manaugh, Mark Frauenfelder, Deborah Blum, August Kleinzahler, Ben Casnocha, Barry Boyce, Peter Conners, David Crosby, Paula Span, Rudy Simone, John Schwartz, Sylvia Boorstein, David Gans, Josh Shenk, John Tarrant, Jonah Lehrer, Seth Mnookin, Maryn McKenna, Anonymous, and 255 responses
ProMED (email warnings of infectious diseases)
Pro Publica Data. Much to be found here: Workers’ Comp Benefits: How Much is a Limb Worth?, Workers’ Compensation Reforms by State, Employers Complain of Rising Premiums, But Workers’ Comp Is at 25-Year Low, Nonprofit Explorer (Search IRS 990 filings), How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network, ER Wait Watcher, How Well Did FEMA’s Maps Predict Sandy’s Flooding?, China’s Memory Hole: The Images Erased From Sina Weibo, After the Flood: New Maps and a New Plan for New York, How Much Acetaminophen Are You Taking?, Nursing Home Inspect, Updated Dollars for Docs. Invaluable for journalists and the public.
• PubMed Single Citation Matcher. PubMed (database of 21 million citations for medical research from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Here is a PubMed Tutorial (on how to narrow your search etc.). And here is a story about a problem NLM needs to address: Something’s Rotten in Bethesda — The Troubling Tale of PubMed Central, PubMed, and eLife (Kent Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen, 10-22-12). The National Library of Medicine should manage NCBI and PMC more conscientiously, and make them stop competing with publishers and technology companies.
Pulse: voices from the heart of medicine (personal accounts of illness and healing, fostering the humanistic practice of medicine, encouraging health care advocacy). See Pulse's archive of poems and stories.
Quackwatch (about, and against, complementary and alternative medicine)
Questions for ‘Keeping TV science honest’ (ScienceNews for Students, 9-8-16)
Reporting on Health (articles and fellowships from California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships)
Reporting on Suicide website. Download PDF of Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide (PDF, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
• Researching Fraudulent Organizations in Health Care (Yael Grauer, National Center for Business Journalism, 5-17-18). See also
---Dollars for Docs database (ProPublica)
---Effect of Financial Relationships on the Behaviors of Health Care Professionals: A Review of the Evidence (Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics)
---Proove Biosciences, which sold dubious DNA tests to predict addiction risk, sells off assets as CEO departs amid criminal probe (Charles Piller, STAT, 8-31-17)
RADIO. A Guide to Translating Science to Audio (Aneri Pattani, The Open Notebook, 6-26-18) "Science Friday’s Key to Live Science Radio: Find Guests Who Bring Research to Life." Listen to Science Friday (Ira Flatow's wonderful show on NPR)
Resources for health care journalists (links to general and specialized sites, for the Association of Health Care Journalists)
Resources for covering swine flu, pandemics and preparedness (one of several AHCJ tip sheets for journalists)
Resources for science communication (a roundup list compiled on Twitter by Justine Dees, posted on LinkedIn)
Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky track retractions as a window into the scientific process)
Richard Feynman explains the scientific method in 1964 lecture (video of this delightful scientist's explanation of what makes something scientific)
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (excellent data and human resources on health policy and public health)
Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop
Scholarly Work, Without All the Footnotes (Arthur S. Brisbane, The Public Editor, NY Times, 10-2-10), on how a dispute about a Times Magazine article, Does Your Language Shape How You Think? by linguist Guy Deutscher, illustrates the differences between academic publishing and the popular press. Mainly: less credit to sources--and why not post those online?
Taking Good Notes: Tricks and Tools (The Open Notebook). Speedwriting, PearNote, Livescribe, alternative handwriting systems, and more.
Tom Lehrer at 90: a life of scientific satire (Andrew Robinson Nature, 4-4-18) His biggest hit, That Was The Year That Was (his 1965 album), gathered together songs Lehrer had written for That Was The Week That Was, the US satirical television show spawned by the BBC original. ‘Who’s Next?’ exposes the dangers of nuclear proliferation. ‘Pollution’ highlights environmental crises building at the time, such as undrinkable water and unbreathable air.
Toolkit for New Medical Writers (free and online resources and guidance, for both scientific medical writing and medical marketing writing), Delaware Valley chapter, American Medical Writers Association
Toolkit for journalists and consumers (HealthNewsReview.org) See also Just for journalists: Tips and case studies for writing about health care
Top Science Writers Lists
By no means perfect as lists, these will at least lead you to some good reading
• Twenty-First Century Science Writers (The Top Tens)
• Ten or More Twenty-First Century Science Communicators of Various Forms Who Are Really Good, All of Whom Happen to be Women (Sean Carroll)
• The 50 best science writers of all time(OnlineCollege.org)
• Best American Science Writers (Joel Achenbach, Achenblog, Washington Post, 4-4-12)
• 100 All-Time Greatest Popular Science Books (and 17 More) (Open Education Database)
• Tracker (or Tracker 2.0, as a subdivision of UnDark). The MIT Knight Science Journalism Program’s Tracker Blog, now a regular column, turning "a discerning eye on science journalism — the good, the bad, and the occasionally mystifying — with the hope that our analyses will help to keep science writing vibrant, alive, and free from temptation."
Training peer reviewers (David A. Mackey, NatureJobs.com)
The Truth Wears Off (Jonah Lehrer, Annals of Science, New Yorker, 12-13-10). Is there something wrong with the scientific method? The "decline effect": The decline of significance in positive results from clinical trials -- results that are rigorously proved and accepted -- start shrinking in later studies. This can be explained by selective reporting, regression to the mean, and positive publication bias. "Our beliefs are a form of blindness," writes Lehrer (e.g., results from trials on acupuncture are more positive in Asia than in the West). Early termination of trials that show a positive result could also enshrine a statistical fluke, adds one reader.
Twitter lists for medical/science editors (KOK Edit). Save time and sign up to follow the tweeters on Katharine O'Moore-Klopf's lists of good Twitter feeds. By category: Health and medicine, news media, science resources, scientists, freelancing resources, and edit-Long-Islanders.
Undark. An editorially independent, foundation-supported digital publication of MIT's Knight Science Journalism Program. For example: The Death of a Study (Charles Schmidt, Case Study, Undark, 5-25-16) A long-term study of childhood disease burned through $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds, only to be mothballed before it ever got off the ground. Why?
The Use of Superlatives in Cancer Research (Matthew V. Abola and Vinay Prasad, JAMA Oncology, Jan. 2016) "Whereas most new cancer drugs afford modest benefits,2 approved drugs or those in development may be heralded as “game changers” or “breakthroughs” in the lay press. These news articles may be important sources of information to patients, the public, and investors—with a broader reach than medical journal articles. However, omission of medical context or use of inflated descriptors may lead to misunderstandings among readers."
Visuals for Science Writing
--- Use of a VISUAL ABSTRACT to Disseminate Scientific Research (PDF, Andrew M. Ibrahim, version 4, Jan. 2018)
---As scientists take to Twitter, study shows power of 'visual abstract' graphics (Phys.Org, 5-1-17)
---Visuals for science writers (Karl Leif Bates for National Association of Science Writers)
Was a USDA scientist muzzled because of his bee research? (Steve Volk, Washington Post Magazine, 3-3-16)
What Is Science Journalism Worth? Part I (Kendall Powell, The Open Notebook, 1-20-15) "The money in this job sucks." Excellent discussion of where magazines and reporters/writers/editors find themselves today. A couple of quotes:
• Apoorva Mandavilli, editor-in-chief of SFARI.org, a foundation-backed journalism website that reports on autism research, says the gig economy poses an additional problem for her. "The current economic atmosphere, she says, creates a tension for writers who feel that career success depends on publishing shorter pieces at the online versions of marquee publications, which usually pay less than their print counterparts....This tension keeps all of us, myself included, beholden to unbelievably low rates when we want a flashy byline. And it allows those publications’ low offerings to suppress rates across the entire field."
• Emma Marris: "Some of our books really change people’s opinions and touch people’s lives. And yet, [writing books] can only be done by those who are either spousally subsidized, bad at math, or just very stubborn.” What Is Science Journalism Worth, Part II explores what freelance science writers can do to fight their way back toward that ideal. "Most experienced freelancers aim for a rock-bottom rate of $1.00 per word for magazine work and $0.50 per word for online or newspaper copy..,,re-negotiate for more compensation when asked to do a rush job or whenever an assignment requires more labor than the original agreement." Demand a reasonable kill fee for if the article is not accepted. Rosie Mestel, chief magazine editor at Nature, advises freelancers "to write more short, newsy pieces and fewer labor-of-love, longer pieces. 'It makes me sad to say that. I don’t think it would be that satisfying, nor would it serve the public as well.' " Apoorva Mandavilli, editor-in-chief at SFARI.org, says more writers should "look more closely at niche publications—often backed by foundations, scientific societies, or patient-advocacy groups that remain hands-off editorially—because they can afford to pay better rates."
What is a technical writer? How do I become a technical communicator? How do I get into this field without any experience? What are some good reference books? How much are technical communicators paid? How can I find a job in technical communication? I have a degree in English—what can I do with it? Q&As from the DC-Baltimore chapter of the Society for Technical Communication
What is the difference between a certificate and certification? (Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society--scroll down for explanation)
What leads to bias in the scientific literature? New study tries to answer (Alison McCook, Retraction Watch, 3-20-17)
Where journalists get their medical news and information (blog post, Writers and Editors, 3-3-17, plus updates)
Why Can't Female Reporters Stay in the Picture?(Danielle Tcholakian, Longreads, ) A movie in the works about the last year of Rob Ford’s mayoral term has a lead character who is a reporter trying to expose a scandal about him. The story is based on the dogged work of Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle, who discovered a video of Ford smoking crack that eventually imploded the politician’s career. But her role is being played by a guy. What's up with that?
The Why Files (the science behind the news)
Without Fear or Favor, But Maybe an Industry Partner (Paul Raeburn, Undark, 4-22-16) Can journalistic organizations court industry partnerships without undermining their reputations? Should respected journalists lend their names and reputations to co-sponsored conferences by participating on the panels? Nobody seems to be waiting to find out.
Working as a Medical Writer (Sarah A. Webb, Science, 6-22-07)
Writing a Literature Review by Allyson Skene, The Writing Centre, University of Toronto at Scarborough (PDF)
Download the Universe (founded by Carl Zimmer, this new science e-book review site will lead you to what's hot in the science e-book universe, as reviewed by good science writers). Meanwhile, here are a few titles that may belong on your bookshelf or your wish list.
• Aines, Roger D. and Amy L. Championing Science: Communicating Your Ideas to Decision Makers
• Alda, Alan. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. "“[Alda] was frustrated that men and women of science were not able to get their points across—to the public, the media, the government. Turned out they had never been trained to do so. So Alda set out to do something about it . . . Aided by his warm, conversational style, Alda’s message shows that the lessons also apply to the rest of us—and at a time when we could really use it.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
• Alley, Michael. The Craft of Scientific Writing. “Being precise doesn’t mean compiling details; it means selecting details.”
• Alliance for Health Reform, Covering Health Issues (download free online)
• Archer, David and Stefan Rahmstorf . The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change
• Avorn, Jerry. Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks and Costs of Prescription Drugs
• Baron, Nancy. Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter
• The Best American Science Writing (annual).
• Benson, Philippa J. and Susan C. Silver What Editors Want: An Author's Guide to Scientific Journal Publishing (University of Chicago Press)
• The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016. Buy the old years too. The best way to learn is to read models of good writing.
• **Blum, Deborah; Mary Knudson, and Robin Marantz Henig. A Field Guide for Science Writers, 2nd edition (2005)
• Bolten, Randall Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You
• Cheng, Donghong, Michel Claessens, and others, eds. Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New models, new practices
• **Cohn, Victor and Lewis Cope. News & Numbers: A Guide to Reporting Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health and Other Fields, 2nd edition. This is an area science writers are most likely to screw up in.
• Day, Robert, and Barbara Gastel. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper
• Dean, Cornelia. Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public
• Deyo, Richard and Donald Patrick. Hope or Hype. This overview of medicine emphasizes how as a culture we promote new (especially high-tech) measures that are often less effective and more costly than old standards
• Doumont, Jean-LucTrees, Maps, and Theorems: Effective Communication for Rational Minds
• Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
• Friedman, Sharon M., Sharon Dunwoody, and Carol Rogers, eds. Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science
• Gastel, Barbara. Health Writer's Handbook
• Gawande, Atul. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
• Gawande, Atul. Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
• Gopnik, Adam. The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. See also The Cartoon Guide to Physics, The Cartoon Guide to Genetics, The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, plus guides to algebra and calculus.
• Greenberg, Daniel S. Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion
• Greene, Anne E. Writing Science in Plain English (University of Chicago) See review in Science Editor.
• Groopman, Jerome. How Doctors Think
• Groopman, Jerome. Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine
• Gross, Liza. The Science Writers' Investigative Reporting Handbook: A Beginner's Guide to Investigations (Watchdog Press, 2018)
• Hall, George M. How to Write a Paper. Clear instructions on getting published in a biomedical journal.
• Hancock, Elise. Ideas into Words: Mastering the Craft of Science Writing
• Hart, Geoffrey. Writing for Science Journals: Tips, Tricks, and a Learning plan . See table of contents and a sample chapter, or buy eBook here.
• Hayden, Thomas and Michelle Nijhuis. The Science Writers' Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age
• Hoggan, James. I'm Right and You're an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up The importance of reframing our arguments about topics like climate change with empathy and values to create compelling narratives and spur action.
• Iles, Robert I. Guidebook to Better Medical Writing
• Institute of Medicine. To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Read free online.
• JAMA and the Archives Journals. AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors.Latest editions expands electronic guidelines.
• Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, Dan Kahan & Dietram A. Scheufele, editors. The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication Chapter 17, A Tale of Two Vaccines--and Their Science Communication Environments, examines the difference in the U.S. public's reactions to proposals for universal administration of two adolescent immunications: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which provoked a firestorm of political controversy, and the Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine, which aroused no such opposition. Other topics (for example) include Science as "Broken" Versus Science as "Self-Correcting": How Retractions and Peer-Review Problems Are Exploited to Attack Science; Overcoming Confirmation and Blind Spot Bias When Communicating Science; and Understanding and Overcoming Fear of the Unnatural in Discussion of GMOs.
• Kassirer, Jerome P. On the Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health
• Kryder, Cynthia L. and Brian G. Bass. The Accidental Medical Writer: How We Became Successful Freelance Medical Writers. How You Can, Too.
• Lang, Thomas A. and Michelle Secic. How to Report Statistics in Medicine: Annotated Guidelines for Authors, Editors, and Reviewers (American College of Physicians)
• Lang, Thomas A. How to Write, Publish, and Present in the Health Sciences: A Guide for Physicians and Laboratory Researchers
• Levi, Ragnar. Medical Journalism: Exposing Fact, Fiction, Fraud
• Manning, Phillip. Science Books (science books news and reviews)
• Meredith, Dennis. Explaining Research: How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your Work.
• MindSet. MindSet Media Guide: Reporting on Mental Health (PDF, free download, in French or English)
• Monson, Nancy and Linda Peckel. Just What the Doctor Ordered: An Insider's Guide to Medical Writing
• Moynihan, Ray and Alan Cassels. Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All into Patients
• Mullan, Fitzhugh, Ellen Ficken, and Kyna Rubin, eds. Narrative Matters: The Power of the Personal Essay in Health Policy (collection of personal stories of patients, physicians, policy makers, and others whose writings humanize health policy issues, drawn from the popular "Narrative Matters" column in the journal Health Affairs.
• Nijhuis, Michelle. The Science Writers' Essay Handbook: How to Craft Compelling True Stories in Any Medium. Compact and readable, writes Lynne Lamberg.
• Nuland, Sherwin. How We Die and How We Live
• Olson, Randy. Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story. His “And, But, Therefore” template will help you bring the clarification of story to science pieces. Read this story from Inside Higher Ed, which explains how the "and, and, and" approach of Al Gore's movie on climate change made it less effective. See also Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style
• Park, Robert L. Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud
• Science Friday. Science books discussed on Science Friday
• The Scientist (the periodical).
• Schimel, Joshua. Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded . A favorite for scientific writing courses.
• Shipman, W. Matthew. Handbook for Science Public Information Officers (Univ. of Chicago)
• Southwell, Brian G., Emily A. Thorson, and Laura Sheble, eds. Misinformation and Mass Audiences
• Stewart, James. Blind Eye: The Terrifying Story of a Doctor Who Got Away with Murder
• Veatch, Robert M. The Basics of Bioethics, 2nd ed.
• Wilkinson, Clare and Emma Weitkamp. Creative research communication: Theory and practice
• Wilcox, Christie, Bethany Brookshire and Jason Goldman. Science Blogging: The Essential Guide. See review in Science Editor.
• Woodford, F. Peter. How to Teach Scientific Communication (Council of Biology Editors, 1999). Helpful for teaching clinicians.
• Writers of SciLance. Thomas Hayden and Michelle Nijhuis, eds. The Science Writers' Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age
• Zeiger, Mimi. Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers (available as Kindle or in print).
• Zilberberg, Marya D. Between the Lines: Finding the Truth in Medical Literature "A thoughtful, clear, conversational guide to the intricacies of medical science, studies and statistics."~ Maryn McKenna. "A readable manifesto about real-world evidence-based medicine."~Paul D. Simmons
• AnatLine, National Library of Medicine's database of anatomical images, with online browser
• Anatquest (visually compelling ways to bring anatomic images,including 3D renderings and labeled views, from the Visible Human dataset to the general public (with no-cost license agreement).
• Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Naturalistic Color by Wendy Hollender
• Doctor Stock (rights-managed medical and healthcare images)
• DPDx Parasite Image Library
• The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration ed. Elaine R.S. Hodges.Sponsored by the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and written by top illustrators, scientists, and industry experts,
• Hardin MD Medical Image Picture Gallery (University of Iowa). See Index to Hardin MD gallery
• How animations can help scientists test a hypothesis (Janet Iwasa, TED2014) Video and transcript (31 languages!)
• Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) , National Library of Medicine• Interview with a Scientist: Janet Iwasa, Molecular Animator (NIH) Janet Iwasa discusses the process of creating detailed animations that convey the latest thinking of how biological molecules interact.
• Library of Congress Prints & Photographs
• Medical Illustration Source Book (The Association of Medical Illustrators, with online portfolios)
over 1 million images and 2,000 hours of broadcast quality film footage.
• NASA Multimedia Video Gallery
• National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery
• Netter Images (medical illustrations)
• NIH Photo Galleries
• NOAA's Photo Library
• PHIL (CDC's Public Health Image Library)
• Scientific Illustration: A Guide to Biological, Zoological, and Medical Rendering Techniques, Design, Printing, and Display by Phyllis Wood
• U.S. Department of Agriculture Image Gallery (Agricultural Research Service)
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library
• U.S. Geological Survey Multimedia Gallery
• The Visible Human Project (NLM)
• Visualizing Data (science infographics, the difference between visualization and infographics, time lapse visualization,
• Charts, one way of visualizing data
• Medical and scientific illustrations and illustrators
• Multimedia explanations
The truth about health care reform and health care policy
(alas, mostly under Obama)
(alas, mostly under Obama)
• Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science by David H. Freedman (The Atlantic, Nov. 2010). "Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors--to a striking extent--still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science." On PLoS Medicine you can read Ioannidis's article, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.
• Whitehouse.gov (This was under Obama.) The eight basic consumer protections the White House wants health care reform to cover: (1) No discrimination for pre-existing conditions, (2) No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays, (3) No cost-sharing for preventive care, (4) No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill, (5) No gender discrimination, (6) No annual or lifetime caps on coverage, (7) Extended coverage for young adults, (8) Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid. Learn more about these consumer protections at http://www.whitehouse.gov/
• Excluded Voices. Trudy Lieberman's penetrating series of interviews on health care reform, in Columbia Journalism Review. Start with her interview with Wendell Potter, who "didn’t want to be part of another health insurance industry effort to shape reform that would benefit the industry at the expense of the public." You can also listen to Bill Moyers interview Potter or read the transcript and Potter's testimony before Congress.
• Alliance for Health Care Reform (this nonpartisan organization has excellent resource guides for reporters).
• Choosing to not have health insurance (J. Duncan Moore Jr., L.A.Times,9-21-09), though he may not have intended it, this is an argument for reform
• Mental health: why journalists don’t get help in the workplace (Megan Jones, Ryerson Review of Journalism Spring 2014). "Reporters are finally telling empathetic stories about depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, but newsroom culture keeps journalists’ own struggles in the dark." Find links to good articles about Suicide, suicide prevention, and suicide reporting here.
• C-Span's Health Care Hub is a good place to find various town hall discussions, hearings, wonderful links. C-Span, you're wonderful!
• The Cost Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care (Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, 6-1-09)
• A consumer guide to handling disputes with your employer or private health plan, 2005 update, Kaiser Family Foundation
• C-Span's Health Care Hub is a good place to find various town hall discussions, hearings, wonderful links. C-Span, you're wonderful!
• DrSteveB's blogroll (helpful Daily Kos blogger--and check his blogroll for other resources)
• Find Help (HRSA links to free and inexpensive care)
• 5 Myths About Health Care Around the World by T.R. Reid (Washington Post, 8-23-09).
• Guaranteed Health Care (National Nurses Organizing Committee, California Nurses Association)
• The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid
• Health Affairs (the policy journal of the health sphere)
• HELP Is on the Way (Paul Krugman on why universal health coverage is affordable)
• Health Insurance Consumer Information (news you can use), with blogs that follow the health care debate and discuss news of health insurance coverage around the country, and a Consumer Guide for Getting and Keeping Health Insurance for each state and the District of Columbia. The American Cancer Society and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other organizations provide support for this research by The Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Worth checking out.
• Health Insurance Woes: My $22,000 Bill for Having a Baby (And I had coverage for maternity care! Sarah Wildman, DoubleX, 8-3-09). "Our insurer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, sold us exactly the type of flawed policy—riddled with holes and exceptions—that the health care reform bills in Congress should try to do away with. The “maternity” coverage we purchased didn’t cover my labor, delivery, or hospital stay. It was a sham."..."The individual insurance market is like that old joke about the food being terrible and the portions too small; it’s expensive, shoddy, and deeply unsatisfying. Those of us who buy into it are not protected by the federal and state laws that govern employer-based health care. In fact, there’s no one looking out for us at all."
• Insurers explore savings in overseas care: Major health firms offer doctor networks at lower rates in foreign countries. AP/MSNBC story. ("more insurers are offering networks of surgeons and dentists in places like India and Costa Rica." "The four largest commercial U.S. health insurers — with enrollments totaling nearly 100 million people — have either launched pilot programs offering overseas travel or explored it....Growth has been slow in part because some patients and employers have concerns about care quality and legal responsibility if something goes wrong. Plus, patients who have traditional plans with low deductibles may have little incentive to take a trip.") This is the health insurance industry's approach to health care reform?
• Journalists, Left Out of The Debate: Few Americans Seem to Hear Health Care Facts. "For once, mainstream journalists did not retreat to the studied neutrality of quoting dueling antagonists," writes Howard Kurtz (Washington Post 8-24-09). "They tried to perform last rites on the ludicrous claim about President Obama's death panels, telling Sarah Palin, in effect, you've got to quit making things up. But it didn't matter. The story refused to die." As always, Kurtz provides an intelligent analysis of the situation, stating that "the healthy dose of coverage has largely failed to dispel many of the half-truths and exaggerations surrounding the debate. Even so, news organizations were slow to diagnose the depth of public unease about the unwieldy legislation. For the moment, the story, like the process itself, remains a muddle."
• Medical Science and Practice in Conflict (Kevin Sack, NYTimes, 11-20-09, on how the consumer public may see evidence-based medicine as a step toward rationing)
• Myths and Falsehoods on budget reconciliation (Media Matters, fighting conservative misinformation)
• The Pharmaceutical Industry: Angels or Demons? (Policy and Medicine reports a plea for less demonizing of the pharmaceutical industry)
• Physicians for a National Health Program (supports single-payer national health insurance)
• President's Question Time (Obama, Republicans spar in Q&A (Video of debate 1-29-10, plus Andrew Sullivan's commentary, Daily Dish)
• The Real Death Panels: Insurers Deny 22% of Claims (National Nurses Movement on Daily Kos, 9-3-09)
• Reach of Subsidies Is Critical Issue for Health Plan (Robert Pear, NY Times, 7-26-09—on another important issue: where the money comes from to cover the costs of the formerly uninsured)
• Science Blogs (Health)
• SurveyUSA News Poll on Health Care Data (showing public opinion on various aspects of the health care debate, by gender, race, party affiliation, ideology, level of college education, income,region, and age)
•• Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200 (FactCheck.Org, 8-28-09). A notorious analysis of the House health care bill contains 48 claims. Twenty-six of them are false and the rest mostly misleading. Only four are true.
• Why markets can’t cure healthcare by Paul Krugman (The Conscience of a Liberal, NY Times, 7-25-09).
You can watch Michael Moore's documentary, Sicko online. You can hear on Bill Moyers' interview with Wendell Potter how the insurance industry planned to defuse reactions to Moore's documentary. As Potter states: "The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern." Potter himself says of the documentary, "I thought that he hit the nail on the head with his movie. But the industry, from the moment that the industry learned that Michael Moore was taking on the health care industry, it was really concerned."
T.R. Reid's conclusion in 5 Myths About Health Care Around the World:
"In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really 'foreign' to America, because our crazy-quilt health-care system uses elements of all of them. For Native Americans or veterans, we're Britain: The government provides health care, funding it through general taxes, and patients get no bills. For people who get insurance through their jobs, we're Germany: Premiums are split between workers and employers, and private insurance plans pay private doctors and hospitals. For people over 65, we're Canada: Everyone pays premiums for an insurance plan run by the government, and the public plan pays private doctors and hospitals according to a set fee schedule. And for the tens of millions without insurance coverage, we're Burundi or Burma: In the world's poor nations, sick people pay out of pocket for medical care; those who can't pay stay sick or die."
Godwin's Law: ""As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches"
~ Mike Godwin, creator of Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies, fearing glib use of the term will dilute the meaning of "Never Again"