Getting (very) meta

Noah Haber

What happens when the authors of a meta-science study involving scientific translation on media and social media evaluates the translation of its own study?

The CLAIMS study is, in part, about the intersections and interactions between academia, media, and social media. We like experimenting with new ideas and new approaches to tackling the spread of misinformation in health research across the whole pathway from research generation to consumption. With that in mind, we’re getting (very) meta on this site, and playing with ideas on how our own study is received and interpreted.

  1. A public explainer of the CLAIMS study
    Traditionally, academic authors’ responsibility for communicating research findings stops at the point at which the paper is published in an academic journal. After that point, it’s left to other academics, press release writers, journalists, bloggers, and sharers. Translation into more popular news and social media formats leaves opportunities for spin and misunderstanding. We wanted to make sure that people discussing our work understand it well by putting it into everyday language that we designed and believe to be the an accurate translation.
  2. Suggestions on how to (and how NOT to) discuss on social media
    Crafting a tweet is hard in the best of circumstances, and extra hard when there is important nuance to the study. In our main page, we give some suggested headlines that are reasonably accurate. More importantly, we give tweets we expect people might be tempted to write that are NOT accurate, and explain why.
  3. News and social media tracking and evaluation
    Given that we have provided #1 and #2 for anyone interested in writing about the study, we can do something even more interesting: keep track of who writes about and cites our work, and evaluate it. We have provided a lot of resources for those who are interested. We’re also reaching out to media outlets to help make sure discussion of the work is accurate. We don’t know who might be interested in writing about the study, but we are very curious to see what they get right and wrong if they do. The plan for now is to simply search for academic papers, blogs, and news media about and/or citing our study, keep a copy of it, and see what we think. If there are a lot of articles, we may do something more formal and systematically evaluate those articles for potential misinformation. This is not intended to be a a research-grade study, but it may help inform some future hypotheses and give some fodder for interesting discussion.

Will major news outlets write about our study? What aspects of the study are of greatest interest? What do people get right, and more importantly, what do people get wrong? I honestly have no idea, and that’s my favorite kind of hypothesis.

Thoughts and comments welcome