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Looking back at Research the Headlines in 2018

by on 2018/12/31

2018 was another trying year for evidence-based journalism. Research the Headlines was set up in 2013 to examine how research is portrayed in the media, and to give the public helpful advice and tools when trying to get to the heart of a news story.

During 2018 we hosted a ‘brain blog’ series, showcasing the work of students who have been “researching the headlines” as part of their undergraduate studies. Their task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of the research. They wrote informative posts about Aerobic exercise and Alzheimer’s symptoms, marriage and dementia, and retirement and cognitive ageing. Through different activities, we also help others develop the skills needed to become more critical consumers of both research and media reporting; for example, via our How to “Research the Headlines” series and our “Rewrite the Headlines”workshops and competition for primary school children.

Our writers also continued with our Talking Headlines series with an interview with Simon Fisher. This series seeks to gain insights from experts who have had a range of experiences in relation to the media and their work.

As usual we covered a wide range of topics! This ranged from volcanic eruptions to the developmental disorder ADHD, gender equality and studying STEM subjects and coffee as a cancer risk.  In most cases there was accurate reporting of the research but a lack of context of the relationship of the research to similar research could have distorted the inferences made. In others a sensationalist headline over-egged the conclusion that should have been drawn. We will continue with our range of activities in 2019 and look forward to continue working with early career researchers and offering them opportunities to develop their blogging skills!

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