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Science and Steamrollers: How Research Stories Can Go Off the Rails [UPDATE]

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Cancer Research 101: Science and Steamrollers: How Research Stories Can Go Off the Rails [UPDATE]

Friday, April 6, 2012

Science and Steamrollers: How Research Stories Can Go Off the Rails [UPDATE]

In a blog post earlier today I did a bit of a dissection, from my personal perspective of a big story that came out of AACR this week (see earlier post here).

No sooner had I hit the "upload" button, I became aware of a wonderfully written piece that was hitting the 'blogosphere' at the same time, from one of the authors already quoted in my earlier piece - Erika Check Hayden.

From the Blog "Last Word on Nothing" she wrote a piece entitled "What the ‘limits of DNA’ story reveals about the challenges of science journalism in the ‘big data’ age.

As I did in my earlier post, I will enumerate her key messages:

  1. Science consists of more and more “big data” studies whose findings depend on statistical methods that few of us reporters can understand on our own..
  2. Challenges in the news business are ratcheting up pressure on all of us. 
  3. We are only as good as our sources. 
  4. It’s becoming more difficult to trust traditional scientific authorities. 
  5. Beware the deceptively simple story line.
  6. Getting the story right matters more than ever. 
As much as I am tempted to do so, good practice prohibits me from just cutting and pasting her whole blog post here, but I do encourage you to go back and read what she says on each of these. Please do; it is worth the click and the read.

As you can see, a number of her points very much parallel my own, but rather than feel smug about that, it inspires me to keep doing this blog. And I aspire to writing on a subject as cogently and eloquently as she does.

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