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factsheets and briefing notes

When a new topic in science hits the news, it can be frustrating for journalists when they don’t have access to all the relevant facts. The SMC’s Factsheets give brief, digestible summaries on new areas of emerging science when issues that have had little media attention are suddenly in the spotlight. Often Factsheets come as a supplement to a briefing or Roundup the SMC has put together, and have included topics like the chemical bisphenol-A, emerging livestock diseases, shale gas extraction and ‘legal’ highs. Designed to be an overview rather than a comprehensive account of a topic, Factsheets are also a pointer towards sources of authoritative scientific information. While SMC Factsheets tend to go into detail on a narrow topic, we also produce ‘briefing notes’ on broader subject areas like climate change, stem cells or animal research. These briefing notes are written for broadcasters and non-specialists, giving a rapidly digestible summary of controversial topics.

see briefing notes

Lyme disease

Key information on Lyme disease including symptoms, treatment and incidence. read more

Zika virus

Key information about Zika infection, complications and prevention. read more

gene drive

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

electronic cigarettes

Key information about e-cigarettes, including their prevalence, effects on health, and regulation. read more


Key information about Campylobacter, the most common source of food poisoning in the UK. read more

Ebola virus

Key information about the Ebola virus, including its transmission and treatment. read more


Key information about the symptoms, causes, prevalence and treatment of schizophrenia. read more


Key information about the symptoms, causes, prevalence and treatment of depression. read more

phenylbutazone (bute) and horsemeat

This Factsheet accompanied a Briefing with a number of food science and equine experts, who came to talk about the scientific aspects of the horsemeat scandal, including issues around food safety, traceability, toxicology and DNA testing. read more

badger cull

Bovine TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer and other mammals. The government recently proposed a cull of badgers in two areas in England, Gloucestershire and West Somerset, in attempt to control the impact of bovine TB. read more

Schmallenberg virus

Schmallenberg virus arrived in the UK in autumn 2011 and during spring and summer 2012 resulted in deformities of lambs and calves born in the south and east of England. read more

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