WikiProject

Science

Project: Science is dedicated to providing and discussing quality coverage of science on WikiTribune. For related Projects go to ‘See Also’ below. Guidelines, tips, and ideas are all mutable so please edit and improve. You can pitch ideas on the TALK page, or the dedicated section below. For more general topics, you can pitch ideas on the Daily News Agenda.

Discuss the subject and make suggestions

Talk

Index

  1. Choosing a Topic
  2. Suggestions for Researching the Story
  3. Suggestions for Writing the Story (Editorial Guidelines)
    1. Word Choice
  4. Stories in Draft
  5. Story ideas
  6. Suggested Resources
    1. Directory of Open Access Journals
    2. Sources of Preprints (and sometimes official versions)
    3. Organisations that produce science related reports (free access):
    4. Websites with good scientific articles:
    5. Paywall/Student access depending on journal and university:
  7. Collaborators
  8. See Also

Choosing a Topic

Good types of studies to report on include:

  1. Large secondary studies (e.g. systematic literature reviews, meta-analyses, systematic mapping studies), which summarize what is known about a topic and the strength of evidence for different claims.
  2. New, exciting breakthroughs. For these, avoid over-hyping claims and pay close attention to limitations (see Part 2). Scientists avoid making strong recommendations based on a single study.
  3. Old, interesting studies that never received the attention they deserved, or have new relevance due to current events. For example, this 1995 article showed that protein rich foods are not actually more filling than carbohydrate-rich foods, debunking the premise of the Atkins diet, but received little media attention.
  4. Studies from fields that get less media attention including chemistry, criminology, engineering (except robotics and aerospace), geography, linguistics, management, social work and sociology.

Suggestions for Researching the Story

  1. Read the entire paper, not just the abstract.
  2. Contact the author(s). Give them a chance to let you know if you have correctly interpreted the study results.
  3. Get a second (and third, and fourth) opinion on the significance of the paper from one or more experts in the area who do not have a conflict of interest with the author(s); for instance, co-authoring a paper or working at the same university.
  4. Look for how the study fits into existing research. Is this part of a larger body of research? Is a consensus emerging, or are findings mixed?
  5. Avoid using non-peer-reviewed journals where possible. Predatory journals are known to publish misleading information.
  6. Be wary of claims made in press releases issued by universities or other research institutions; they often contain exaggerated or sensational claims that are not in the original paper.

Suggestions for Writing the Story (Editorial Guidelines)

    1. Always link to the official version of the publication (typically on the publisher’s website).
    2. If the publication is behind a paywall, link to an unofficial preprint if available. Good sources of preprints including: the author’s website, arXiv.org, ResearchGate, Academia.edu and the author’s university’s preprint server.
    3. If the study’s data is publicly available, link to the data.
    4. Refer to the author(s) by name. Do not say “researchers at Harvard…”
    5. Report the limitations listed in the study and any additional limitations suggested by other experts you contact for the story.
    6. Consider methodology and report on it if possible. A mathematical hypothesis or animal testing, vs an in-depth meta-analysis changes the story considerably.
    7. Report who funded the study. If the study was funded by a corporation with an interest in the outcome, reporting the funder is critical. If the study was funded by a research council (e.g. the National Science Foundation in the United States) or internally by a university, reporting the funder is good practice but not critical.
    8. Give due weight to competing claims. Global warming denialism does not need to be given attention in a scientific article.
    9. If possible, discuss implications for the everyday life of the reader. However, avoid drawing far-reaching implications that are not supported by the study.
    10. Consider the subconscious effects of images. For example, a picture of a crying baby or a huge needle on a vaccination story subconsciously supports the anti-vax movement. Pictures of fighter jets glorify a military story, while pictures of a soldier’s funeral are sobering. In a story about artificial intelligence, pictures of The Terminator or Commander Data (from Star Trek) imply very different futures.
    11. Avoid the following words:
      1. Prove, Disprove and Proof (unless you are referring to a breakthrough in mathematics) – empirical science neither proves nor disproves anything. Science “supports,” “indicates”, “demonstrates” and “evidences” or “refutes,” “rejects,” “undermines,” and “questions”.
      2. Theory, Hypothesis, Law, Paradigm – these words have different meanings in different scientific communities, and tend to confuse laypersons. Refer instead to a model; e.g., “Prof. Smith’s climate model shows that…”, “Prof. Li modelled the behavior of junior software engineers…”
      3. Unscientific language including miracle, holy grail, missing link and God particle.

Word Choice

Take care when using words that have different meanings in science and everyday life, as exemplified in the following table.

Before creating your story, remember to check out our how-to guide, style guidelines, and a list of sources most trusted by the WikiTribune staff.

Stories in Draft/Story Projects

Story ideas

You can add ideas for Science coverage to this page

Edit

Suggested Resources

Sources of Open-Access Journals:

Directory of Open Access Journals

PLOS
Wiley Open Access
PubMed Central – search all open access articles in the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine database
PubMed – results are individually annotated as to open access availability

Sources of Preprints (and sometimes official versions)

Academia.edu
arXiv.org
Research Gate

Organisations that produce science related reports (free access):

The Cochrane Library – search for systematic literature reviews on health and medicine
Food and Agriculture Organization

Websites with good scientific articles:

New Scientist
Psychology Today
Science Mag
Science Focus

Paywall/Student access depending on journal and university:

ACS Publications (limited number of free journals)
JSTOR (limited number of free journals)
Nature (limited number of free journals)
Science Direct (limited number of free journals)

Collaborators

See Also

WikiProject Tech

WikiProject Medicine

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Talk (18)

AR

Adam R

"That's a good consideration. However,..."
WJ

William Johnston

"How about "Give due weight to competi..."
Peter Bale

Peter Bale

"Makes huge sense. What we usually try..."
Fiona Apps

Fiona Apps

"Good call"

History for Project "Science"

Select two items to compare revisions

  1. Time Contributor Edit
  2. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) No idea how that sentence got removed but put back
  3. Jason Crawford Jason Crawford (Contributions | Talk) Added a point about press releases
  4. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Finishing links
  5. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Removing excess link
  6. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Updating links
  7. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding notices and changing section
  8. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk)
  9. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) fixed typo
  10. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) Added guideline 10 (misleading images)
  11. Angela Long Angela Long (Contributions | Talk) adding China plastic waste story
  12. Angela Long Angela Long (Contributions | Talk) updating existing stories
  13. Angela Long Angela Long (Contributions | Talk)
  14. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) minor additons
  15. Angela Long Angela Long (Contributions | Talk) adding plastic pollution project
  16. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) extended and refined guidelines
  17. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) updated suggested resources and added myself to the list of community collaborators
  18. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) Added guidelines, improved section headings
  19. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) fix formatting
  20. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) removed story until published
  21. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Removing unlinked title
  22. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) unlinked story not yet published
  23. PR Paul Ralph (Contributions | Talk) Expanded suggestions.
  24. Angela Long Angela Long (Contributions | Talk) AL profile link
  25. Angela Long Angela Long (Contributions | Talk) Adding plastic oceans piece
  26. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Updating link
  27. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Removing link
  28. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding link
  29. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding links + section
  30. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Removing heading
  31. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk)
  32. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Save (not done yet)
  33. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) removing articles not yet published
  34. Peter Bale Peter Bale (Contributions | Talk) Headline changed
  35. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Removing one dead link
  36. Brendan Cawley Brendan Cawley (Contributions | Talk) Reflecting a title change for the Lab-grown meat article
  37. MC Marc Cortese (Contributions | Talk) added to Resources section
  38. Linh Nguyen Linh Nguyen (Contributions | Talk) changed to project
  39. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) improved
  40. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) removed links to nothing
  41. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) added existing story
  42. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) update
  43. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Re fmt
  44. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Changing link
  45. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) added community driven story
  46. Peter Bale Peter Bale (Contributions | Talk) Changing links
  47. Peter Bale Peter Bale (Contributions | Talk) Edits
  48. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) got sources to appear normally
  49. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) trying to get sources to appear normally
  50. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) added more resources
  51. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) changed number
  52. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) added few words
  53. Harry Ridgewell Harry Ridgewell (Contributions | Talk) added community driven stories
  54. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding heading
  55. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) (Re)adding links
  56. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Articles to stories
  57. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding 'see also' - removing discuss
  58. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding discussion which is kinda important
  59. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding JSTOR link
  60. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Whoops! It's science!
  61. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Adding articles and image
  62. Fiona Apps Fiona Apps (Contributions | Talk) Creating new Wikiproject

Talk for Project "Science"

Talk about this Project

  1. Would it be worth adding something about science press releases? I’m thinking of this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/chrisdc77/status/960304692449435648

    “Most exaggeration in science/health news was already in the press releases issued by universities”

    Something along the lines of “don’t just read the press release” or “be wary of claims made in press releases”.

    1. Makes huge sense. What we usually try to do is take people back to “proper” research on one or other of the open platforms like PlosOne.

  2. I recommend moving this page to the “Help and FAQs” section. Not sure who can do that sort of thing.

    1. Thanks Paul. In fact we are discussing all that right now. My idea is to have all the ‘live’ projects in one category so people can go straight to the one they’re interested in, with all the how-to material in a separate place.

  3. I’ve added suggestions and guidelines for reporting on scientific advancements. (Hopefully they will be approved.) More specific guidelines are still needed, but this is what I have for now.

    1. The guidelines look great, but one struck me as a bit dangerous: “Give due weight to competing claims. Global warming denialism does not need to be given attention in a scientific article.”

      The statement dismissing global warming denialism could be read as a bias towards exaggerating the impact of global warming. On these politicized scientific debates, people who take “moderate” positions can be ostracized and silenced on the grounds that they are “denialist”. For global warming, I’ve seen people shut out of discussions if they reject any claim about the danger posed by global warming. Similarly, for evolution, I’ve had by own edits at Wikipedia discarded because I used common descriptive terms like “microevolution” and “macroevolution”, because other editors had the mistaken belief that creationists invented this distinction in order to suggest that there is discontinuity between the two. My frustration with arguments like this is actually why I stopped editing Wikipedia.

      1. How about “Give due weight to competing claims that appear in peer-reviewed scientific publications”?

        Moderate, supported positions should be able to defend themselves in the literature. Denialist positions won’t be able to.

        1. That’s a good consideration. However, it may have a few limitations:
          1) For a new claim, there may not be any competing claim in the literature. In that case, it’s more about finding the right expert who will say “I don’t buy it’ or “I think it’s exaggerated”…but they may not be willing to publicly trash a claim until they have their evidence/argument ready for publication.
          2) The claim itself may not be peer reviewed — for instance, it could come from a book by an expert. This may not be a problem if the author stays away from sensationalist reporting to begin with.
          3) The author probably is not familiar with the literature. So the author will have to rely on the guidance of experts. Beware of skeptics pointing to published articles that seem to support their skepticism when taken out of context (a good reason to build on literature reviews and meta-analyses).

      2. Here is some potential alternative phrasing: “Acknowledge informed skepticism and counter-arguments, but there is no need to give attention to competing opinions simply because of their popularity or the prominence of their advocates. Stay focused on criticism that focuses on the specific issue being discussed, and avoid those that make broad claims with minimal support or claim to have a single argument that invalidates large, established bodies of work.”

        1. “Do not assume that criticism is politically motivated without good cause.”

  4. another dead link

    https://beta.wikitribune.com/stories/story-under-construction-do-elephants-really-grieve/

    Also, the 404 page tried to open some email app, but that did not work.
    Perhaps a form to report dead links instead?

    1. I think that’s an excellent idea. Also, I will remove that one now.

  5. Harry, nice idea. Can you elaborate on the proposition.

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