These resources aim to help journalists better understand the complexities of scientific concepts and statistical terms. They also offer guidance on how to report scientific findings and advise them on effective use of statistics and data visualisations.
EXPLAINER: Scientific Concepts
Although scientists and journalists share a mutual interest in maintaining truth and accuracy, the language used in science publications can often have a different meaning from that which is generally understood. Even seemingly familiar terms can have an unfamiliar meaning when used in a research paper. This section offers pointers to interpreting some common scientific terms, and to critically scrutinising research findings to help readers make sense of them.
EXPLAINER: Statistical Terms
When handling science stories, you need to have a critical mindset and put every figure you’re given into question. Like data, figures are not necessarily objective or accurate.
This section offers an at-a-glance guide to some common statistical terms and numbers, how to interpret and interrogate them and put them into context, and it is intended as a tool to support science journalism’s role as watchdog.
Reporting Scientific Findings
Your role in reporting science requires you to research, cover and present a wide range of scientific topics to a lay audience. Finding suitable language to convey the core and complexities of science stories can support engagement and science literacy among your audiences.
You may also address controversial topics and try and offer a balanced view of ongoing scientific debates which in turn can help people make informed decisions.
Statistics for Journalists
Journalists regularly use statistics to support the claims or opinions in their reports. Properly used, numbers can add authority and objectivity to a story. But statistics are not neutral and you can run the risk of confusing or misinterpreting the numbers presented. As a journalist reporting science issues you’ll need to develop the skill of correctly interpreting and interrogating the numbers scientists have found before presenting them to your audiences.
This section of the Science Journalism toolkit illustrates some common pitfalls in the journalistic use of statistics and shows you how to avoid them.
Understanding Data Visualisation
Data visualisation techniques are among the most powerful journalistic tools to help shed light on the often-complex issues generated by scientific research. In a data-rich world driven by social media, the clarity offered by a visually rich graphic can be highly engaging, especially when it allows people to dig deeper into the data themselves.
This brief introduction offers a step-by-step routine into presenting data-heavy stories for maximum clarity, memorability and reach.