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roundups & rapid reactions
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Fiona fox's blog

roundups & rapid reactions

Rapid reactions: responding to breaking news. The demands of the 24-hour media machine mean that news journalists often don’t have the luxury of time to track down the best scientists when a science story lands on their desks, so availability can sometimes win out over expertise. This is where the Science Media Centre steps in. When a story breaks – whether it’s the latest flu epidemic or health scare, or a potential nuclear crisis – the SMC persuades leading experts to drop everything and engage with the story, then contacts journalists at all the major news outlets to offer those experts for interviews or immediate comment.


Roundups: putting new research into context. One of the other ways the SMC ensures that the media have easy access to scientists and their views is by offering journalists a variety of comments from scientists reacting to the latest research. This service differs from our ‘rapid reactions’ as scientists have time to react before new research is announced, rather than in response to breaking news.

With access to embargoed journals before publication, we can pick stories of most interest to journalists, asking third party experts to provide comments and information to put research into context before it appears in the media. The SMC’s unique roundups help busy journalists critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of new research, and highlight when studies are very preliminary or display a correlation that should not be read as causation. Equally, when leading scientists are excited about a significant study this can reassure journalists that the study should feature strongly in their coverage.

expert reaction to brain imaging and vegetative states

Researchers publishing in The Lancet reported using positron emission tomography (PET), a brain imaging technique, in clinical practice to determine which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness. read more

expert reaction to cannabis and potential brain abnormalities

Researchers in the US found a correlation between casual use of cannabis and the size, shape, and structure of brain regions involved with motivation, emotion and reward in a small sample of young adults. The report was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. read more

expert reaction to glucose and aggression in married couples

A PNAS study of married couples reported that decreased blood glucose altered the way participants acted in activities such as sticking pins into a doll representing their spouse. The authors suggested low blood glucose is therefore correlated with increased aggressive behaviour between married couples. read more

expert reaction to IPCC AR5 WG3

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its third and final report of the current series, looking at strategies for mitigating global warming and recommending a rapid move away from fossil fuels. read more

expert reaction to new study into fruit and veg consumption and mortality

Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
suggested eating at least seven daily portions of fruit and vegetables may confer the best chance of staving off life-threatening diseases. An accompanying editorial suggested the UK’s current recommendation of five daily portions may require review. read more

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