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Examining exaggerated claims in science communication

Bratton, Luke Adam 2018. Examining exaggerated claims in science communication. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis is concerned with investigating the exaggeration of health-related research in the media. Typically, research findings published in peer reviewed journals are transmitted to the news via press releases created by universities and journal press offices. Research has shown that exaggeration of key aspects of the research relevant to the health-related behaviour of readers is often exaggerated in the news. Observational research has shown that the presence of exaggeration in press releases is related to exaggeration in the news (Sumner et al., 2014). Firstly, I report my largely successful replication of this key study using more recent retrospective observational data. I show that discourse on openness in animal research and exaggeration of findings is linked to positive changes in science reporting. The study in chapter three compares data collected before versus after the release of Sumner et al. (2014) to detect any change the reporting of research findings following the release of this high profile paper. Between the sample periods, exaggeration in press releases had reduced, suggesting that press officers had become more cautious in their reporting of research findings. Chapter four describes a randomised controlled trial which directly modified the output of press offices to observe whether press release content had a direct effect on news. A high level of condition non-adherance meant that this “per protocol” comparison was not possible. An “as treated” analysis demonstrated the same relationship between press releases and news articles as in the replication in chapter two, and the conparison in chapter three.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Funders: ESRC, CArdiff University School of Psychology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 August 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 August 2019
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2020 01:26

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