Prevailing wisdom 'scientists are press shy' debunked

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Washington, Sept 10 (ANI): It is often said that scientists are press shy, and those who aren't, are mavericks. Now, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have debunked the theory.

A survey of 1,200 researchers in the areas of epidemiology and stem cell research has revealed that the interplay between scientists and journalists has been remarkably stable since the 1980s.

"By and large, scientists speak to journalists, they know it is important and they're willing to do it again," said principle investigator and journalism professor Sharon Dunwoody.

"The frequency with which scientists and journalists interact has been pretty stable over time," Dunwoody added.

The findings contradict the widespread view in science that scientists are out of touch.

"We found relatively frequent interactions," said life sciences communication professor Dominique Brossard and co-researcher on the study.

The study showed that about one-third of the respondents claimed to have had up to five contacts with journalists during a three-year period, while another third of the sample said they experienced more than six contacts with reporters over three years.

Only one-third of respondents reported having no contacts with journalists.

"The frequencies are definitely encouraging," added Brossard.

The proportion of scientists in the sample who interact with journalists is intriguingly similar to studies from the 1980s, as well as patterns identified in the 1990s.

The new data imply that journalistic engagement of scientists over time is greater and more stable than "persistent, anecdotal cautionary tales would suggest," said the researchers.

"We don't know if the interactions are, in fact, better," said Dunwoody.

"But scientists are eager participants. It reflects a more active role by one of the major players in the process," the expert added.

The study appears in current issue of Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. (ANI)

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