Studying “Pre-Truth” Science: The 2023 Scholarly Communications Institute – Scholarly Communications Lab | ScholCommLab

“The annual Scholarly Communications Institute (SCI) offers opportunities for interdisciplinary and international teams to come together to pursue complex projects related to a common theme. In this blog post, lab member Alice Fleerackers reflects on her experiences collaborating with scholars and journalists to understand and improve the ways preprints are reported in the news….”

The Digital Library of Georgia has made its 3 millionth digitized and full-text-searchable historic newspaper page available freely online.  – the DLG B

“The Digital Library of Georgia has made its 3 millionth digitized and full-text-searchable historic newspaper page available freely online.

The title page of the first edition of the May 22, 1917, issue of the Atlanta Georgian reports on the destruction caused by the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917 and the city’s effort to control the damage.

This issue marks the 3 millionth page digitized by the Digital Library of Georgia.

The newspaper circulated daily from 1906 to 1939, was the first Hearst-owned newspaper in the South, and is the most prominent example of sensationalist yellow journalism in Georgia. In its first year of publication, the paper infamously printed stories intended to inflame racial tensions that contributed to the start of the Atlanta Race Massacre of 1906….”

The missing link: the quality of UK local and national online media coverage of research – Insights

Abstract:  Local and national media have always played an instrumental role in the communication of academic research to the public. In recent years, this has proved even more important due to the extensive online national and international coverage of topics such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. Given that the media represent the public’s first point of contact with, and key source of information about, science and research, then, as academics, we need to know, firstly, whether the media make this research easily identifiable for the public and, secondly, whether the research itself is accessible. Our study examined coverage of University of Sheffield published research in UK local and national media to explore how far it is identifiable and accessible; using data from we investigated what proportion of research covered provided sufficient details to identify research, including links to the published articles and explored how much of the research was accessible via open access. A large proportion of research that featured in local media cited the journal, academic institution and author, but did not link to the article. By contrast, national media cited the author, institution or funder much less than local news websites, but often linked to the actual research article. Most articles featured were open access. The implications of this and potential reasons for the national and local differences are discussed.


Unreviewed science in the news: The evolution of preprint media coverage from 2014-2021 | bioRxiv

Abstract:  It has been argued that preprint coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic constituted a paradigm shift in journalism norms and practices. This study examines whether, in what ways, and to what extent this is the case using a sample of 11,538 preprints posted on four preprint servers—bioRxiv, medRxiv, arXiv, and SSRN—that received coverage in 94 English-language media outlets between 2014–2021. We compared mentions of these preprints with mentions of a comparison sample of 397,446 peer reviewed research articles indexed in the Web of Science to identify changes in the share of media coverage that mentioned preprints before and during the pandemic. We found that preprint media coverage increased at a slow but steady rate pre-pandemic, then spiked dramatically. This increase applied only to COVID-19-related preprints, with minimal or no change in coverage of preprints on other topics. In addition, the rise in preprint coverage was most pronounced among health and medicine-focused media outlets, which barely covered preprints before the pandemic but mentioned more COVID-19 preprints than outlets focused on any other topic. These results suggest that the growth in coverage of preprints seen during the pandemic period may imply a shift in journalistic norms, including a changing outlook on reporting preliminary, unvetted research.

Releasing content for researchers to re-use – Living with Machines

“A desire of the Living with Machines project (and indeed an AHRC ‘gold standard’) is to release as many of the newspapers we digitised as we can (subject to copyright) in forms that other researchers can access and interrogate. The digitisation process undertaken jointly by the British Library and FindMyPast for Living with Machines has resulted in a series of newspaper images and related automatically transcribed (OCR) text, which have been released in various ways.  …”

Making science public: a review of journalists’ use of Open Science research

Abstract:  Science journalists are uniquely positioned to increase the societal impact of open science by contextualizing and communicating research findings in ways that highlight their relevance and implications for non-specialist audiences. Through engagement with and coverage of open research outputs, journalists can help align the ideals of openness, transparency, and accountability with the wider public sphere and its democratic potential. Yet, it is unclear to what degree journalists use open research outputs in their reporting, what factors motivate or constrain this use, and how the recent surge in openly available research seen during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the relationship between open science and science journalism. This literature review thus examines journalists’ use of open research outputs, specifically open access publications and preprints. We focus on literature published from 2018 onwards—particularly literature relating to the COVID-19 pandemic—but also include seminal articles outside the search dates. We find that, despite journalists’ potential to act as critical brokers of open access knowledge, their use of open research outputs is hampered by an overreliance on traditional criteria for evaluating scientific quality; concerns about the trustworthiness of open research outputs; and challenges using and verifying the findings. We also find that, while the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged journalists to explore open research outputs such as preprints, the extent to which these explorations will become established journalistic practices remains unclear. Furthermore, we note that current research is overwhelmingly authored and focused on the Global North, and the United States specifically. Finally, given the dearth of research in this area, we conclude with recommendations for future research that attend to issues of equity and diversity, and more explicitly examine the intersections of open science and science journalism.


Guest Post – Open Access Beyond Scholarly Journals – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Many of us probably share the following intuitions: to keep up with the ever-growing amount of literature, researchers have to specialize more and more; this reduces the potentially fruitful exchange between specialist bubbles. And: a growing number of political, economic, and societal decisions are made based on science. However, science gives guidance only; it does not make decisions for us. Given the participatory nature of democratic societies, we all need to understand what science generally – not only science from one’s own field of expertise – actually tells us about climate change, future energy systems, COVID-19, multiresistant bacteria, loss of biodiversity, etc.

But would researchers or stakeholders read the original papers in fields beyond their own expertise? Many wouldn’t – and they’d miss the information. The value of press releases, newspapers, and popular science magazines, on the other hand, is limited . These aim at being comprehensible to broader audiences and, to this end, refrain from presenting the full complexity and limitations of the actual findings.

The conceptual gap between these types of document is usually large. An article that falls within that gap, however, might offer an appropriate balance of simplicity and complexity for researchers with different specializations, policymakers, decision-makers, funders, early career scientists, journalists, educated generalists – in short, for those less likely to read the original research but who have an in-depth interest in the science presented.

I’d therefore like to suggest that this gap is a place in its own right that deserves additional coverage….”

Wikipedia is twenty. It’s time to start covering it better. – Columbia Journalism Review

“In the first years of the site, the press enjoyed noting funny instances of Wikipedia vandalism. But, as the tone of the coverage shifts toward praise, and on the site’s 20th anniversary, we feel journalism should help readers better understand Wikipedia’s policies and inner workings—in other words, improve the general public’s Wikipedia literacy. We have identified two major themes that might help reporters in this effort….

Although it is true that Wikipedia is, broadly-speaking, an openly editable project, journalists who suggest that the encyclopedia itself is a free-for-all do a disservice to their readers. Over the years, the Wikipedia community has created a large number of mechanisms that regulate its market of ideas. Perhaps the most important one is the ability to lock articles for public editing. 


Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but temporarily disabling people from editing it anonymously can go an extremely long way in preventing disinformation. Articles such as the “COVID-19 pandemic” are subject to semi-protection, meaning that anonymous IP editing is not allowed and that any contributors must register an account. Other articles have more extensive protections, such as the article on Donald Trump, which has long been subject to extended-confirmed protection, meaning that only Wikipedia editors who have been active for 30 days and who have performed at least 500 edits can directly edit Trump’s page….


Wikipedia, in the singular, does not “decide” or “ban” anything; rather, the community, or different groups within it, reach a temporary consensus on certain issues. That’s understandably hard to pack within a headline. But journalism suggesting that Wikipedia is a monolithic agent with a single point of view simply misses the mark. …


A key determinant of notability is whether the subject has received significant coverage from reliable media sources. The volunteer Wikipedia editor who declined the draft page about Strickland did so because, according to the guideline, there wasn’t enough coverage of Strickland’s work in news articles and other independent secondary sources to establish her notability. Katherine Maher, executive director of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, later wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times headlined “Wikipedia Mirrors the World’s Gender Biases, It Doesn’t Cause Them.” Rather than cast the blame on Wikipedia or its policies, Maher challenged journalists to write more stories about notable women like Strickland so that volunteer Wikipedians had sufficient material to source in their own attempts to fix the bias. The media can do more than just call out biases on Wikipedia; it can also help address them. …”

CC at 20: CEO Catherine Stihler Reflects on 2022 and Where CC Is Headed Next

Last Friday (16 December 2022), Creative Commons proudly celebrated twenty years of CC licensing and all the groundbreaking collaboration it has enabled. As we look back on this remarkable journey, time seems to pass more quickly than ever — yet our gratitude for each milestone remains unwavering, as do words of thanks towards everyone who … Read More “CC at 20: CEO Catherine Stihler Reflects on 2022 and Where CC Is Headed Next”
The post CC at 20: CEO Catherine Stihler Reflects on 2022 and Where CC Is Headed Next appeared first on Creative Commons.

Science in motion: A qualitative analysis of journalists’ use and perception of preprints | PLOS ONE

Abstract:  This qualitative study explores how and why journalists use preprints—unreviewed research papers—in their reporting. Through thematic analysis of interviews conducted with 19 health and science journalists in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it applies a theoretical framework that conceptualizes COVID-19 preprint research as a form of post-normal science, characterized by high scientific uncertainty and societal relevance, urgent need for political decision-making, and value-related policy considerations. Findings suggest that journalists approach the decision to cover preprints as a careful calculation, in which the potential public benefits and the ease of access preprints provided were weighed against risks of spreading misinformation. Journalists described viewing unreviewed studies with extra skepticism and relied on diverse strategies to find, vet, and report on them. Some of these strategies represent standard science journalism, while others, such as labeling unreviewed studies as preprints, mark a departure from the norm. However, journalists also reported barriers to covering preprints, as many felt they lacked the expertise or the time required to fully understand or vet the research. The findings suggest that coverage of preprints is likely to continue post-pandemic, with important implications for scientists, journalists, and the publics who read their work.


Caution, Preprint! Brief Explanations Allow Nonscientists to Differentiate Between Preprints and Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles – Tobias Wingen, Jana B. Berkessel, Simone Dohle, 2022

Abstract:  A growing number of psychological research findings are initially published as preprints. Preprints are not peer reviewed and thus did not undergo the established scientific quality-control process. Many researchers hence worry that these preprints reach nonscientists, such as practitioners, journalists, and policymakers, who might be unable to differentiate them from the peer-reviewed literature. Across five studies in Germany and the United States, we investigated whether this concern is warranted and whether this problem can be solved by providing nonscientists with a brief explanation of preprints and the peer-review process. Studies 1 and 2 showed that without an explanation, nonscientists perceive research findings published as preprints as equally credible as findings published as peer-reviewed articles. However, an explanation of the peer-review process reduces the credibility of preprints (Studies 3 and 4). In Study 5, we developed and tested a shortened version of this explanation, which we recommend adding to preprints. This explanation again allowed nonscientists to differentiate between preprints and the peer-reviewed literature. In sum, our research demonstrates that even a short explanation of the concept of preprints and their lack of peer review allows nonscientists who evaluate scientific findings to adjust their credibility perception accordingly. This would allow harvesting the benefits of preprints, such as faster and more accessible science communication, while reducing concerns about public overconfidence in the presented findings.


An analysis of journalism articles achieving high Altmetric attention scores – ScienceOpen

Abstract:  New methods of judging the impact of academic articles now include alternative metrics, and the goal of this study was to provide an insight into the journals and papers with top Altmetric attention scores (AAS) in the field of journalism. Scopus and Dimensions were used as the primary data sources. Fifteen journalism journals were identified from Scopus, and papers from these journals with an Altmetric Attention Score of over 100 were collected from Dimensions as the study’s sample, which comprised 87 papers. Most of the papers with high AAS were published after 2017, and five were published in 2022. The sample included a larger number of closed access articles ( n = 50) than open access ( n = 37), although analysis revealed that open access articles had higher median Tweets than closed access. Articles on journalism practice were more likely to receive attention from news outlets. None of the papers with high AAS are highly cited, which may be due to the limited time to accumulate citations. The journal with the highest impact factor (Digital Journalism) did not have the greatest number of papers with high AAS, but had far higher scores on Twitter engagement than the other journals. The results do not show any correlation between impact factors and citation metrics and social metrics.


Public use and public funding of science | Nature Human Behaviour

Abstract:  Knowledge of how science is consumed in public domains is essential for understanding the role of science in human society. Here we examine public use and public funding of science by linking tens of millions of scientific publications from all scientific fields to their upstream funding support and downstream public uses across three public domains—government documents, news media and marketplace invention. We find that different public domains draw from various scientific fields in specialized ways, showing diverse patterns of use. Yet, amidst these differences, we find two important forms of alignment. First, we find universal alignment between what the public consumes and what is highly impactful within science. Second, a field’s public funding is strikingly aligned with the field’s collective public use. Overall, public uses of science present a rich landscape of specialized consumption, yet, collectively, science and society interface with remarkable alignment between scientific use, public use and funding.


Societal impact of university research in the written press: media attention in the context of SIUR and the open science agenda among social scientists in Flanders, Belgium | SpringerLink

Abstract:  Transferring scientific knowledge to non-academic audiences is an essential aspect of the open science agenda, which calls for scholars to pursue a popularization of their research. Accordingly, purposefully introducing scientific insights to the public at large is almost univocally deemed commendable. Indeed, in today’s models of research evaluation, the objects and activities considered are being extended beyond peer-reviewed journal articles to include non-scholarly popular communication. Although altmetrics offer one instrumental way to count some interactions with lay audiences, their reliance on social media makes them susceptible to manipulation, and mostly reflect circulation among niche audiences. In comparison, attention from non-scholarly media like newspapers and magazines seems a more relevant pathway to effectuate societal impact, due to its recognition in qualitative assessment tools and its broad, societal reach. Based on a case study of social scientists’ attention by newspapers and magazines in Flanders (northern Dutch-speaking region of Belgium) in 2019, this paper highlights that frequent participation in the public debate is reserved for high-status researchers only. Results show highly skewed media appearance patterns in both career position and gender, as eight male professors accounted for almost half of all 2019 media attention for social scientists. Because media attention is highly subject-dependent moreover, certain disciplines and fields offer easier pathways to popularization in media than others. Both the open science agenda and research assessment models value presence of researchers in popular media, adding written press attention to existing evaluation assessments however would disproportionately disadvantage early career researchers and exacerbate existing inequalities in academia.