The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a list of strategies to help scientists make their research more accessible to the broader public. The guidelines, which include tips for researchers, educators, journalists, and other health professionals on writing about topics such as data outcomes, clinical trials, and studies with animal models, were compiled from advice given by experts in the scientific community. The checklist and additional communications resources were released as part of an effort to share best practices that might contribute to a better understanding of the nature of biomedical research and its role in health.
When discussing scientific research, the guidelines suggest communicators:
- Provide perspective for the study, and explain the context of the research. Try not to overstate the study’s importance or significance, while relaying what’s exciting about the scientific advance
- Note funding sources and potential conflicts of interests to help maintain transparency. Examples may include patent applications, start-ups, or funding from biotech or pharmaceutical companies
- Identify whether the study involved human or other animal models. Clearly identify the type of animal at the top of the story
- Describe the type of study, clearly stating whether it shows an association or causation
- Check the study’s sample size and address potential limitations
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