“What’s something that seems obvious within your profession, but the general public seems to misunderstand?” asked @Mantia on Twitter. Fun question. Dr. Holly Witteman (@witteman) replied:
That $35 that scientific journals charge you to read a paper goes 100% to the publisher, 0% to the authors. If you just email us to ask for our papers, we are allowed to send them to you for free, and we will be genuinely delighted to do so. I knew that none of that money goes to authors, but I am fascinated that I did not know that “we are allowed to send them to you for free.”
Great tip to add to my Studying the Studies page. Done.
My answer to the question, regarding science journalism
And, no, it’s not a coincidence that this is my answer, following the cannabis post this week. 😉
All scientific paper conclusions are provisional and there are always caveats. Even robust findings are usually just a piece of the puzzle. Reporting “conclusions” does not imply that they are the Last Word on a topic.
That is obvious to me, and the general public does have some real trouble with it. As an experienced science writer, I should know this and routinely help the reader by spelling out a key caveat or two. And I do often do that! But not always, as with the cannabis post this week. Sometimes it’s because I am not qualified to editorialize … or maybe I just didn’t have the time. And while mentioning a caveat or two isn’t terrible burdensome, I also want to avoid constantly re-hashing the basics of scientific literacy.