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29% of academic medical centers exaggerate the importance of their research

The Wall Street Journal health blog is reporting that a recent study that analyzed news releases posted on EurekAlert in 2005 exaggerated their findings 29% of the time.

The authors, led by Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth, looked at releases from EurekAlert issued by 20 academic medical centers and their affiliates in 2005. (EurekAlert compiles many press releases and sends them to journalists.) The researchers found that 58 out of 200 releases, or 29%, exaggerated the findings’ importance.

Exaggeration was more common in releases about animal studies than human studies. Out of the 200 releases, 195 included quotes from the scientific investigators: 26% of them were “judged to overstate research importance,” the authors write.

The authors of the Annals piece didn’t look at how often exaggerated press releases actually resulted in exaggerated news reports. However, they wrote, “We believe that academic centers contribute to poor media coverage and are forgoing an opportunity to help journalists do better.”
 
 

Comments (3)

  1. I think it's a prettying statement to say academic centers contribute to poor media coverage, especially when the people who did the survey didn't look closely at the impact on news articles.
  2. Ooops I meant "prettying" (Hmmm an edit comment feature would be nice)
  3. LOL I see you can't say d-a-m-n

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