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Sept. 12, 2011, 1:35 a.m.

Some scientists want to check research stories pre-publication

Three British scientists say should be allowed to review stories about their work before publication.

Overall, since press credibility relies on both accuracy and independence, and since the question of allowing sources to check articles (or parts of them) raises a tension between these pillars, the burning question is: where should the balance be struck?

We believe that public trust in science, and in science reporting, is harmed far more by inaccuracy than by non-independence. Contrary to Bhattacharya’s claim that “the reader is not a scientist’s first concern,” public understanding is our overriding concern when communicating with journalists.

Ananyo Bhattacharya, the chief online editor of the journal Nature, argued last month:

Science hacks wouldn’t dream of sending a remotely controversial story out to their sources. But scientists have a vested interest in the way their work is portrayed in the media. Practically any story has the potential to be “controversial”, for example by having an impact on a scientist’s reputation or their next grant application. A journalist, on the other hand, must try to be independent — and seen to be so — if they are to be credible.

In September, Chicago Tribune science and medical writer Trine Tsouderos debated with scientists about the idea of reading back quotes to sources for the purposes of fact-checking.

POSTED     Sept. 12, 2011, 1:35 a.m.
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