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The following leaflets are a set of pocket-sized guides for scientists that list effective ways of talking within the context of a short interview about various issues that cut across the sciences. Many science press officers now use them as part of their media training programmes.

If you are a scientist, press officer or media trainer and would like to receive copies of these guides, free of charge, please e-mail smc@sciencemediacentre.org.

If you are a scientist thinking about media work, you may also be interested in attending our one-day event Introduction to the News Media.

why engage with the news media?

The news media could be described as one of the worst ways to explain science, given its fast turnover, tight deadlines and space constraints. However, there are very good reasons for using this as a medium to get your messages about science across.

This leaflet looks at these reasons for working with the media, and addresses common concerns we hear from scientists alongside testimonies from those who have engaged in the past.

advice for researchers experiencing harassment

All researchers should expect their work to be scrutinised by the public, policy makers and campaigners. However, some researchers working on high-profile subjects that attract controversy, such as radiation, climate change, animal research or chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, have also found themselves targeted by people who have extreme views about their research.

The Science Media Centre spends time working with researchers who have been targeted and wants to share tips on ensuring your voice is heard by the public and policy makers.

top tips for media work

This leaflet is designed to give you information about how to deal with the situation when contacted by a news journalist and give you just a few easy points you should remember. You can expect to be contacted at any time by a journalist wanting an interview on your subject. They require you to react quickly as they are working to tight time deadlines, and it may come as a shock to the unprepared.

Inspired by the renowned science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry, this leaflet covers how best to prepare yourself for unanticipated interaction with the media, a check list of useful tips for when a journalist calls, and things to remember during the interview, whether it be TV, radio or newspaper.

communicating uncertainty in a soundbite

This leaflet offers some effective ways for scientists to talk about uncertainty in a brief news interview. It covers the big questions:

  • Why is science uncertain?

  • Why do scientists disagree?

  • Why can’t scientists always give an answer?

  • Why do scientists change their minds?

  • Why can scientific studies appear to contradict each other?

The content of this guide was compiled by a working group of scientists, press officers and journalists.

when animal research hits the headlines

This is a guide for scientists and doctors preparing for a news interview where questions may be asked about the use of animals in medical research.

It was born out of a meeting between top scientists and journalists to discuss effective ways of answering the most commonly asked questions about animal research in the context of a short news interview.

peer review in a nutshell

This is a guide for scientists preparing for a news interview about the trustworthiness of a piece of scientific research. This sort of question will often prompt an answer that refers to peer review. But this wrongly assumes that the general public fully understand the process of peer review in scientific research.

This leaflet offers some effective ways to explain peer review in a brief news interview: what it is, how it works, and why scientists rely on it so much. It refers specifically to the peer reviewing of papers for publication, rather than peer review of funding applications. The content of this guide was compiled by a working group of leading scientists, journal editors and journalists.

communicating risk in a soundbite

This leaflet is a guide for scientists, doctors and engineers preparing for a broadcast interview. Put together by a group of scientists with media experience, it is not meant to be a definitive ‘best practice’ guide – we simply want to offer a choice of effective ways of answering questions about safety and risk.

Note that the guide is intended for use in situations where risks are perceived to be much higher than they actually are. It is not intended to help cover up significant risks or threats to public health.

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