science journalism

 

Neutrality, Balance and Anonymous Sources in Science Blogging – #scioStandards

Posted 24 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

This is Part 2 of a series of blog posts in anticipation of the Upholding standards in scientific blogs (Session 10B, #scioStandards) session which I will be facilitating at noon on Saturday, March 1 at the upcoming ScienceOnline conference (February 27 – March 1, 2014 in Raleigh, NC - USA). Please read Part 1 here. The goal of these blog posts is to raise questions which readers can ponder and hopefully discuss during the session. 1.       Neutrality Neutrality is prized... Read more

Is It Possible To Have Excess Weight And Still Be Healthy?

Posted 14 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

Is it possible to be overweight or obese and still be considered healthy? Most physicians advise their patients who are overweight or obese to lose weight because excess weight is a known risk factor for severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. However, in recent years, a controversy has arisen regarding the actual impact of increased weight on an individual’s life expectancy or risk of suffering from heart attacks. Some researchers argue that being overweight... Read more

‘Infotainment’ and Critical Science Journalism

Posted 19 May 2013 by Jalees Rehman

I recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Guardian in which I suggested that there is too much of an emphasis on ‘infotainment’ in contemporary science journalism and there is too little critical science journalism. The response to the article was unexpectedly strong, provoking some hostile comments on Twitter, and some of the most angry comments seem to indicate a misunderstanding of the core message. One of the themes that emerged in response to the article was the Us-vs.-Them perception... Read more

Are Scientists Divided Over Divining Rods?

Posted 25 February 2013 by Jalees Rehman

When I read a statement which starts with "Scientists are divided over......", I expect to learn about a scientific controversy involving scientists who offer distinct interpretations or analyses of published scientific data. This is not uncommon in stem cell biology. For example, scientists disagree about the differentiation capacity of adult bone marrow stem cells. Some scientists are convinced that these adult stem cells have a broad differentiation capacity and that a significant proportion can turn into heart cells or brain... Read more

Is Kindness Key to Happiness and Acceptance for Children?

Posted 28 December 2012 by Jalees Rehman

The study "Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being" published by Layous and colleagues in the journal PLOS One on December 26, 2012 was cited by multiple websites as proof of how important it is to teach children to be kind. NPR commented on the study in the blog post "Random Acts Of Kindness Can Make Kids More Popular", and the study was also discussed in ScienceDaily in "Kindness Key to Happiness and Acceptance for... Read more

The PhD Route To Becoming a Science Writer

Posted 29 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

If you know that you want to become a science writer, should you even bother with obtaining a PhD in science? There is no easy answer to this question. Any answer is bound to reflect the personal biases and experiences of the person answering the question. The science writer Akshat Rathi recently made a good case for why an aspiring science writer should not pursue a PhD. I would like to offer a different perspective, which is primarily based on... Read more

Science Journalism and the Inner Swine Dog

Posted 5 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

A search of the PubMed database, which indexes scholarly biomedical articles, reveals that 997,508 articles were published in the year 2011, which amounts to roughly 2,700 articles per day. Since the database does not include all published biomedical research articles, the actual number of published biomedical papers is probably even higher. Most biomedical researchers work in defined research areas, so perhaps only 1% of the published articles may be relevant for their research. As an example, the major focus of... Read more