Does media coverage of research misconduct affect public confidence in science and scientists? A new study by Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public & Science) and the SOM (Society Opinion Media) Institute at Gothenburg University suggests that this is not the case. However, people who regularly read a daily newspaper or watch news on the TV do have a more positive view of research.
Swedish people’s confidence in research is generally high, although it is possible to detect a decreasing trend over the last decade. To examine the extent to which news about research misconduct may contribute to changing attitudes, VA, in collaboration with SOM Institute, carried out a systematic analysis of the major Swedish news media (daily press and television) and their reporting of research misconduct over the period 2002-2013. The analysis alsmedso looks at the importance of media consumption.
“The nature of the media coverage seems to have less impact on public confidence; the most important factor is for people to be exposed to news about research. Our study does not support the hypothesis that media coverage of research misconduct has a direct negative impact on the public’s confidence in research. In simple terms, it better to have negative news coverage of research than no coverage at all,” said Maria Lindholm, Director of Research at VA.
A summary in English of the results of the survey on Research misconduct and confidence in research is available here.