Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Priesthood of Science Journalism

Toby Murcott, writer, broadcaster and former BBC science correspondent, has written a three part essay series on the topic of improving science journalism. In his first piece (available HERE) he makes an argument for creating transparency in the peer-review process.

Murcott believes that an improved public understanding of the publication process may be an important step in fostering a genuine appreciation of science as both a profession and as a human endeavor – a process fraught with enticing drama and plot-twists. He further suggests that improved access to peer-review by journalists may pave the way to better reporting. This improved access - he believes - will enable writers to go beyond the mere summarizing of findings and may open the door to stories with greater historical context and more gripping storylines.

On the whole I find myself in agreement with Toby; although improved access may be used by a few shady journalists for generating confusion and hype, most writers would apply the access towards positive objectives. Further, by making referee comments available reviewers will have greater enticement to be thorough, clear and balanced.

The essay is worth a look:

Murcott, T. (2009). Science journalism: Toppling the priesthood Nature, 459 (7250), 1054-1055 DOI: 10.1038/4591054a

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