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Journalism students get to grips with research

Communication of research science to the general public can be ineffective or inaccurate due to a lack of understanding on the part of journalists. To address this, final-year journalism students were given the opportunity to spend some time in research labs and write about their experiences.

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The EU has identified that science communication to the general public is lacking in several aspects. This includes a lack of engagement and debate between researchers and the public, as well as a perceived distrust of journalists in communicating scientific results. 'Research labs for teaching journalists' (RELATE) was an EU-funded project that placed 78 journalism students in 30 research laboratories. The students spent a week in the laboratory learning about the daily lives of scientists, and then wrote about their experiences. RELATE was established as a pilot project to get research labs on board, with the aim of creating a permanent programme. The project also aimed to bridge the divide between researchers and journalists. Students wrote daily blogs of their experiences in order to monitor the effectiveness of the programme. At the end of their week-long stay, feature articles were written by the students, with approximately 25 % getting published in various print and online media. This project has improved science journalism in Europe by bringing together researchers and journalists in a new way, and by extending interdisciplinary communication and understanding. Additionally, hands-on scientific experience for journalists will translate into more accessible science communication for the public. The articles published by the students are available on the project website.

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