Students evaluate research headline news



A new competition encouraging undergraduate students to evaluate how the latest research is translated into headline news has been launched by a partnership including Heriot-Watt University.

“There are a number of potential weak points in the process where inaccuracies sneak in.”
Dr Alan Gow

Rewrite the Headlines will ask entrants to explore a recent research finding which has been discussed in the media. Via a blog they will be asked to highlight good reporting as well as identifying discrepancies between the research conducted and the way that’s been reported in the media. They will also explore whether any misinterpretation may have come from the media reporting or the research itself.

The competition, open to students from universities across Scotland, allows them to showcase the skills they’ve developed during their undergraduate training in interpreting and evaluating research studies, and ensures that what can be complex findings are communicated effectively to different audiences.

It is being run by the academics and researchers behind Research the Headlines, a blog which discusses research and the media created by members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland.

Dr Alan Gow, Associate Professor in Psychology in the School of Life Sciences, said, "We know that the media reporting of research can often be very good, but there are also a number of potential weak points in the process where inaccuracies sneak in. We know our students have the necessary skills in critically evaluating research, and we want to let them showcase those skills with this new competition."

The competition is supported by funding from the British Academy with additional funding from the University of Strathclyde. It runs until 30 November 2015, with prizes being announced in the New Year.