A new study suggests that when it comes to how journalists talk to them, some scientists are more likely to be seen as being less credible than others.
The paper is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We’re trying to find the reason why, and it’s really fascinating,” says co-author Paul A. Sperber, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota.
Sartorius and his colleagues wanted to know if there were specific factors that affected scientists’ willingness to talk with journalists, whether they were more willing to talk about their research and how they talked to journalists.
In their study, researchers from Sperberg University and the University at Buffalo looked at more than 1,000 university professors and administrators in six countries, looking at how many of them had ever reported to a reporter or radio host a topic they were researching, or had talked to a journalist.
The researchers wanted to find out if these subjects’ willingness, or willingness to speak to journalists, had anything to do with their research or their job.
They looked at the responses of more than 400 professors from 10 countries to the following question: “In the past year, I have reported to media outlets about a topic I’m working on.
In that reporting, I may have made statements that were not in the article I wrote.
Why was that?
Was that in error or did I think it was an accurate account of the topic?”
The results showed that more than two-thirds of professors said they had reported to reporters an error or an incorrect account of their work.
But only about half of the professors also said they believed the story was accurate.
For some, the answer to the question was “yes,” or “yes, but not in my mind,” but for others, it was “no.”
“The more a scientist says no to a story, the less likely he or she is to say yes,” says Sperbert.
The authors also looked at how much more likely a scientist was to say that they had been able to interview their colleagues in order to understand what their work was really about.
A total of 4,919 people were surveyed.
A quarter of the people who had ever spoken to a scientist reported that they talked with the journalist, while only 2.6% of the other respondents said they did not.
The rest said they spoke with reporters about their work, or talked to them about their study.
What the researchers found was that scientists who were more likely not to talk were more reluctant to say they talked only to journalists about their own work, but that they also were less likely than others to say their interviews were in their field of study.
They also found that journalists were more inclined to report to the same people who did their research, but this effect was much stronger for the ones who reported to other scientists, and more pronounced for those who reported in a particular field.
“If you are not able to communicate effectively with the reporter, it’s going to be harder for you to get published,” says John Siegel, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and a co-founder of the Open Science Collaboration.
Siegel and Sperbrun say that scientists’ reluctance to speak with the media may be linked to the fact that they may have concerns about what might happen if they do.
“That is, they are worried about how they will be perceived if they speak with reporters, and they don’t want to appear to be disrespectful,” says A. Michael Kueppers, a psychologist at the Graduate School of Education at the City University of New York.
The study also found a relationship between the willingness to have a conversation with journalists and the extent to which the scientists reported that their work involved other fields of research.
The research team also asked the professors about their willingness to make a public statement about their findings.
More than half of professors, however, said they were not willing to make such a statement, despite the fact they were willing to speak.
Speringber says the data “shows that when a scientist speaks, he or [she] is more likely than not to be heard.”
And when it came to a public appearance, the researchers concluded that “the greater the degree of engagement, the greater the likelihood that the scientist will be heard.
It seems that in the public arena, scientists have an important role to play, and a strong voice.”
The study was published in Psychology of Science.