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Fiona fox's blog

for journalists

When science hits the news agenda, it’s our job to pass on to journalists as much accurate information as we can, as quickly as possible. In order to do this we send out quotes from experts, statistical analyses of scientific studies and Factsheets, in addition to running regular press briefings on the latest hot topic. Find our most recent Roundups and Rapid Reactions, briefings, Factsheets and ‘Before the Headlines’ analyses below, or use the icons on the right.

As well as working with experienced specialist reporters, we also provide support to new reporters, editors and generalists through a series of publications, including ‘Briefing Notes’ on controversial topics, and guidelines on science and health reporting, and by working with the National Coordinator for Science Training for Journalists.

see publications for journalists

Need an expert to interview? The SMC’s database is not quite like any other. Those on it are selected not just for their proven expertise, but also for their willingness and ability to engage with the media when their area of work hits the headlines. The quality of our experts is important to us. The SMC recruits scientists, engineers and others who work for respected institutions, publish in peer-reviewed journals and have a track record of quality research in their specialist field.

The SMC was established to provide assistance to the national news media when covering controversial science stories or breaking news. As such the SMC’s priority remains to support new reporters at UK national news media outlets. We prioritise working with science, health and environment specialists on controversial news pieces, but also provide support for journalists pursuing original and long-form pieces by advising on the best experts to approach and helping to set up visits to institutions.

You can get in touch with using the details below. Please be aware though, if your enquiry does not fit our remit we may not be able to help or may refer you on to external scientific institutions.


t: +44 (0)20 7611 8300


expert reaction to announcement of spending review and autumn statement

The chancellor has announced in the autumn statement and comprehensive spending review that the science budget will increase in real terms to £4.7 billion, while the budget for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be cut by 17%, for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by 15% and the Department for Energy and Climate Change by 22%. read more

expert reaction to Cochrane review of medication for ADHD

Publishing in The Cochrane Library a group of scientists have reviewed the evidence around the effects of a common drug which is used to treat ADHD in children and adolescents, reporting that methylphenidate is associated with some benefits but also an increased risk of “non-serious adverse effects”. read more

gene drive

Key information about gene drive, including its use and controversy. read more

expert reaction to Nurse Review of Research Councils

Sir Paul Nurse has published his review of the structure of the UK’s research councils, which recommends preserving them and providing a formal organisation above them to improve certain processes such as funding and which would be a strengthened voice for science and research. read more

The Nurse Review

An independent review of the UK Research Councils, led by Sir Paul Nurse, is published on 19th November. The report reviews why and how the UK should undertake research. The report makes recommendations to consider how the Research Councils should evolve to support research in the most effective ways to benefit society and to how to invest public money in the best possible way. The review was announced as part of the government’s science and innovation strategy in December 2014. read more

expert reaction to disability assessments linked to suicide

The health impacts of the government’s work capability assessment is the subject of a paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, with the authors reporting that “the programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing.” read more

Prof Guy Poppy, Chief Scientific Adviser to the FSA

From horsemeat to campylobacter, these have been difficult times for trust in our food chain. One of the top academics grappling with issues in the food we eat is Professor Guy Poppy, the new(ish) Chief Scientific Adviser to the FSA. After the publication of his latest scientific report, the SMC has invited Guy in for a chat about his role at the FSA and his thoughts on some topical controversies in food. read more

sweeteners and weight loss

A review of studies which examine low-energy sweeteners and their effect on energy intake and body weight has been published in the International Journal of Obesity, with the authors reporting that use of such sweeteners does not increase energy intake or body weight, and when the sweeteners are used in place of sugar those measurements can be reduced. read more

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