Good reporters strive to write balanced stories, presenting all sides of a story in as unbiased a way as possible. But this can be controversial in science reporting if the overwhelming body of evidence suggests that one viewpoint is, well, wrong. For example, some people believe that global climate change is a hoax and that vaccines do more harm than good. But the vast majority of scientific evidence tells us that climate change is real and that vaccines offer enormous... Read more
ABOUT Matt Shipman
Matt Shipman is a science writer and public information officer at North Carolina State University, where he writes about everything from forensic anthropology to computer malware. He previously worked as a reporter and editor in the Washington, D.C. area for Inside EPA, Water Policy Report and Risk Policy Report, covering the nexus of science, politics and policy.
In his free time, Shipman runs a non-profit organization called the First Step Project that has nothing to do with science, plays guitar badly (but with enthusiasm) and keeps track of the juvenile humans who live in his house. You can follow him on Twitter: @ShipLives.
Shipman is also the author of The Handbook for Science Public Information Officers (2015, University of Chicago Press) and a contributing author to The Complete Guide to Science Blogging (2015, Yale University Press).
Anyone interested in hiring Shipman for freelance writing or editing projects can reach him at shiplives[at]gmail.com.
Matt Shipman: All Posts
Someone recently asked me how I evaluate whether science- or health-related news stories are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise full of nonsense. I hadn’t really organized my thoughts on this before. But I had read some pretty good tips from other science writers – including one by Michelle Nijhuis at Slate and one by Emily Willingham at Forbes.com. And I’ve also been reading the news with a more critical eye recently, since I started reviewing health stories for Health News Review.... Read more
On March 18, the U.S. National Science Foundation announced the steps it will take to make federally-funded research publicly available. I had some questions regarding what this might mean for publishing companies and peer-reviewed journals. I reached out to some of the largest publishers of scholarly journals, and representatives from three of the publishers responded. The answers ranged from certainty that NSF’s plan would be easily implemented to uncertainty about what the plan would mean. I’m including all three responses... Read more
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a plan March 18 that would require researchers to make publications pertaining to NSF-funded research freely and publicly available within 12 months of their initial publication. The requirement will apply to all projects whose proposals are submitted after the agency issues its Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide in January 2016. The change is outlined in the NSF’s new public access plan, titled “Today’s Data, Tomorrow’s Discoveries.” In a March 18 announcement,... Read more
Earlier this month, WIRED unveiled a new design for its Science Blogs platform. But the re-design is only the most visible change to WIRED’s science coverage. There are plenty of other recent changes as well. While I have more questions than answers at this point, I thought I’d share the changes that I do know about (and my questions). Writers It appears that WIRED will be moving forward with fewer science bloggers than it has in the past. Some WIRED... Read more
Researchers are not obligated to publicize their research findings – and they shouldn’t be. Some people enjoy public outreach. Some people don’t. But those who are on the fence should know that there are very practical, selfish reasons to publicize their work. I wrote about this on Scientific American Blogs several years ago, but thought it was worth revisiting the issue. A lot of the basic ideas haven’t changed, but I’ve added some new stuff – and included links to... Read more
Finding effective and efficient means of sharing information is a key challenge for anyone involved in science communication – and that’s particularly true for large-scale health systems, in which data inform a wide range of decisions related to both policy and practice. To learn more about some of the challenges and opportunities in this arena, I talked to Dr. Geraint Lewis, chief data officer of the National Health Service in England. Communication Breakdown: Before we get into your work as... Read more
I first met Vanessa Hill in early 2014 while touring a forensic anthropology lab in North Carolina. At the time, she was working for Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and had recently launched a web series called BrainCraft that explored issues related to psychology and neuroscience. Fast forward about a year and Hill is living in the U.S. and working full time on BrainCraft, which is now part of PBS Digital Studios. I recently had the chance to... Read more
If you think science should inform policy decisions or you just want to ensure that there is continued government support for scientific research, you should be alarmed by a new report from the Pew Research Center. Here’s the short version: the U.S. public is markedly less supportive of federal science funding than it was five years ago, and is less likely to be swayed by science on policy issues. This should be a wake-up call to the science community: science... Read more
Science communication and citizen science have a lot in common – namely, the desire to engage with people both inside and outside of the traditional science community. But where science communication is often seeking only to educate or to get folks interested in science, citizen science is trying to get people actively involved in the scientific process. Citizen science can take many forms – from “games with a purpose,” such as Phylo, to projects that have people collecting ants from... Read more