Monthly Archives: July 2012

What caught our eye last week
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There are a fair number of links making their way into our inboxes on a daily basis and we pass them on as often as possible, but listing and linking to them all would create a monster of a post. Still, we do love to share — so, we’ve put together a small selection of some of the more interesting links we came across last week. Enjoy! David Wojick (The Scholarly Kitchen) posted ‘Please use whole names on scholarly articles’ which looks at how referencing academic articles using the surname(s) and initials (or partial names) can lead to some confusion, particularly in China. SciDev.Net’s Syful Islam looked at the budget cuts to research science and research alongside the hike in atomic energy allocation in Bangladesh. Sir John Daniel and David Killion’s article in the Guardian ‘Are open educational resources  the key to global economic growth’ examines how using Open Educational … Continue reading

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Do journalists need to understand the scientific process to write good science stories?
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Since returning from a workshop on science communication for journalists I have been thinking a lot about science journalism both in the UK and abroad and wondering if science journalists need to understand the scientific process in order to write good science stories. A number of people will argue that no, you don’t need to understand science to write a good science story — after all you don’t have to be an economist to write on economics or an investment banker to write on finance.  While I tend to sympathise with this position I actually disagree with it and here I will outline why.

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What caught our eye last week
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As the site description says, this blog aims to “explore ideas, discuss issues and share learning around research, information and development”. At INASP, we see a lot of information coming through and do our best to share it internally and externally. Whether this information is a new item, an opinion piece, an article or an interesting infographic, we like to keep an eye out for anything that might be interest. So, in an attempt to do exactly as the description says, we’ve pulled together a handful of some of the more interesting items we’ve seen in the past week. This week, we’ve chosen: How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques (John Tedesco) The Money-Empathy Gap (Lisa Miller) Knowledge, Policy and Power in International Development: A Practical Guide (Louise Shaxon) Working with the grain and swimming against the tide (David Booth) Do cultural differences explain some of the variation in who … Continue reading

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Why scientists seem to change their minds (10)
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Although scientists seem to change their minds… let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water The blogs published over the last two weeks have outlined some of the reasons why scientist may appear to be constantly changing their minds. I hope they have been informative but I just want to conclude with a plea. The scientific method is not perfect and the individuals who implement it and interpret scientific findings are human beings who get things wrong. However, please let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water! The scientific method is a really valuable approach to finding more objective answers to some important questions. There are many questions that we really need objective answers to!

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Why scientists seem to change their minds (9)
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Reason 9: The scientists haven’t changed their minds, but many people believe they have There are a number of high profile issues which many members of the public believe are not resolved by scientists, where in fact there is broad scientific agreement. A classic example is the theory of evolution. Many members of the public believe that there is controversy amongst scientists about evolution; however this is simply not true. Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biological research. I have met hundreds of biological researchers but I have never met one who thought that evolution does not happen. To be honest in all my years working as a researcher I never even heard the matter discussed and it was only later that I discovered, to my surprise, that many people think that it is a matter of scientific controversy. If you are a biologist you see evolution take place in … Continue reading

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Why scientists seem to change their minds (8)
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Reason 8: Their belief was not based on scientific data Just because a scientist believes something does not mean that it is scientifically proven. There are many examples of ‘flat-earth’ beliefs — things which many scientists hold to be true but which have actually never been proven. A good example comes from the medical profession. For decades, doctors working in emergency settings have treated critically ill children by giving a large initial infusion of saline (salt water). This practice was so well established that no one thought to test it. However, recently, to the shock of the medical community, a trial comparing different types of infusion found that the children in the control group, who received no infusion, actually did best. It is therefore vital that we don’t confuse what scientists believe with what has been proven. Next — Reason 9: The scientists haven’t changed their minds, but many people believe … Continue reading

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