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Can science journalists do more to uncover research misconduct?

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Can science journalists do more to uncover research misconduct?

No clear consensus emerged from the gathering of 250 science journalists and publishing officials at the Royal Society in London. In fact, the panel discussion and internet chatter probably raised more questions than they answered:

  • Should journalists let scientists do the investigating and just limit themselves to reporting what the scientists find out—sabotage, plagiarism, fraudulent data, etc.?
  • Is the job of science journalists to explain science to a broad audience or do they have a duty to the facts?
  • Are science writers any more willing to go out on a limb and report scientific misconduct than researchers?
  • Is finding out who is misrepresenting lies as truth too difficult for science journalists, given the limits of their expertise as journalists and/or their lack of access to testing equipment, lab space, etc.?
  • Is scientific journalism corrupt and dead?
  • Is blogging replacing mainstream media as watchdogs of scientific fraud?

In short, the debate seems to center around whether journalists are capable of spotting scientific misconduct. Or can it only be uncovered by other scientists? What do you think?

To listen the misconduct session, visit http://www.ukcsj.org/edition-2012/uncovering-scientific-misconduct.html.

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