Working with the media can be beneficial but linking to and citing your research should be compulsory – The Impact Blog at LSE

Extract from an article by Andy Tattersall

It’s great when academic research is covered by the media but too often this coverage fails to link back to or properly cite the research itself. It’s time academics insisted on this and Andy Tattersall outlines the benefits of doing so. As well as pointing more people to your work, the use of identifiers allows you to track this attention and scrutinise where and how your research has been used. At a time when academic work is vulnerable to misreporting, such a simple step can help ensure the public are able to view original research for themselves.

Academics are increasingly being sold the benefits of working with the media as an effective way of gaining impact and presenting their work to a wider audience. Yet all too often media coverage of research has no direct link to the research it is referring to. The general public are used to seeing news stories that say ‘researchers have found’ or ‘researchers from the university of’ yet these reports are often lacking when it comes to linking to or citing the actual research. Academics dealing with the media should make a point of insisting on linking to their original research outputs where applicable as there are several benefits. Given that Oxford Dictionaries just named ‘post-truth’ as their word of 2016, we need to do everything we can to ensure fact retains its importance in the reporting of research.

Allow the public to see for themselves what the researchers found

How research is framed in the media can be very important as not all research is reported accurately. Giving links so that readers can fact-check is almost effortless if the corresponding academic insists on this at the point of writing the story. Of course this depends on how accessible the research is but there should be a link to the open access version or at the very least the abstract of the research. Certain national newspapers are very good at cherry-picking parts from a piece of research to provide an attention-grabbing headline. This can be extremely problematic in the reporting of health news and websites such as the NHS’ Behind the Headlines addresses misreporting of health news stories. The problem is that most people reading the news are not aware of such resources, but adding the original link to the research in the hypertext or as a reference at the end of the paper copy gives readers direct access to the published work. Of course that does not mean they will read the original work, but it does open up the possibility. It also saves interested parties from trying to track down the original paper, the title of which is rarely reported in full, so what is lost by adding the links to the research? Remember, it is much harder for a journalist to misreport your work if you insist on linking to what you actually wrote…(continues)

SOURCE: Andy Tattersall, “Working with the media can be beneficial but linking to and citing your research should be compulsory”, The Impact Blog at LSE, 28 Nov 2016

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