Preparing for media: Presenting at a scientific meeting before publishing



Scientific meetings and media

The collaborative approach of presenting research to a scientific community, prior to publication, offers the benefits of promoting interest and making improvements.

Data from the News and Media Research Centre shows the interest in health and science in Australia is higher than sports and celebrity news (as cited in Australian Science Media Centre, 2016, p. 2).

Lai and Lane (2009) found commonalities in 734 cases of front page newspapers reporting research. Their aim was to gain understanding in the source of publicised research in developmental maturity and evidence level.

The results, in studying these front page articles, within the years 2000 to 2002, included:

- 417 mature research published in peer-reviewed journals

- 317 from reporting findings presented at a scientific or press meetings (published within 3 years).

What are the challenges of media reports today?

Media journalists are challenged with the competitiveness of maximising the impact of reporting. Some reporters are encouraged to seek invitations for university meetings, research organisations, workshops, seminars and collaborative research sessions. Reporters are cautious to report unverified claims by scientists that could potentially to be rejected by a peer-reviewed journal.

Possible dangers of research being reported prior to publishing include:

  • inaccurate reporting

  • inappropriate judgement of validity and relevance

  • inadequate preservation of information to enable developmental maturity prior to publishing​

  • incomplete reporting: basic study facts, study design, quantifying the main result (Schwartz, Woloshin & Baczek 2006).

How to be prepared?

  • Identity possible questions and prepare answers for conversations with media journalists.

  • Be ready by standing your ground against misinterpretations.

  • Understand the viewpoints from non-government agencies or protestors.

  • Prepare with relation to global, national, scientists or general public responses.

  • Offer to fact check the final draft for the journalist.

  • Organise to make comments via recognised industry media representatives.

  • Nominate a later date to disclose information about the research, by emphasising limitations of making the work public.

  • Join an institution or professional group and ask an Ambassador to prepare comments for the media.

  • As a lead researcher, encourage the journalist to contact your supportive institution to verify the research findings.

Engaging with the media is an opportunity to enhance peer recognition and to develop with career advancement. A successful approach can create a path to generate funding. The results can offer a realistic approach to the importance of your research..

References

Aldwin, C., & Greenberger, E. (1987). Cultural differences in the predictors of depression. American Journal of Community Psychology, 15, 789-813. doi:10.1007/BF00919803

Lai, W. Y. Y., & Lane, T. (2009). Characteristics of medical research news reported on front pages of newspapers. PLoS ONE, 4(7): e6103. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0006103

Schwartz, L. M., Woloshin, S., & Baczek, L. (2002). Media reporting on research presented at scientific meetings: more caution needed. Journal of the American Medical Association. 287(21), 2859-2863. doi:10.1001/jama.287.21.2859

The state of the media and science reporting in Australia. (2017). Retrieved March 2, 2018, from The University of Queensland Web site: https://omc.uq.edu.au/files/1720/The-state-of-the-media-and-science-reporting-in-Australia.pdf


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