Whistling in the dark: Media and science citations

I was talking to an emergency room doc for a few hours a couple of  Saturdays ago – about two of those hours involved him stitching up my sliced ear from another fall – and he told me his hobbies were macro may and needlework.

I told him it’s good to be good at what you do.

The association between mention of scientific research in popular media (e.g., the mainstream media or social media platforms) and scientific impact (e.g., citations) has yet to be fully explored. The purpose of this study was to clarify this relationship, while accounting for some other factors that likely influence scientific impact (e.g., the reputations of the scientists conducting the research and academic journal in which the research was published). To accomplish this purpose, approximately 800 peer-reviewed articles describing original research were evaluated for scientific impact, popular media attention, and reputations of the scientists/authors and publication venue. A structural equation model was produced describing the relationship between non-scientific impact (popular media) and scientific impact (citations), while accounting for author/scientist and journal reputation.

The resulting model revealed a strong association between the amount of popular media attention given to a scientific research project and corresponding publication and the number of times that publication is cited in peer-reviewed scientific literature. These results indicate that (1) peer-reviewed scientific publications receiving more attention in non-scientific media are more likely to be cited than scientific publications receiving less popular media attention, and (2) the non-scientific media is associated with the scientific agenda.

These results may inform scientists who increasingly use popular media to inform the general public and scientists concerning their scientific work. These results might also inform administrators of higher education and research funding mechanisms, who base decisions partly on scientific impact.

A case study exploring associations between popular media attention of scientific research and scientific citations, 01 July 2020


Sage Anderson, Aubrey R. Odom, Hunter M. Gray, Jordan B. Jones, William F. Christensen, Todd Hollingshead, Joseph G. Hadfield, Alyssa Evans-Pickett, Megan Frost, Christopher Wilson, Lance E. Davidson, Matthew K. Seeley



The impacts of an outbreak: caramel apple edition

As state and local health department and FDA folks try to get to the root of a caramel apple-linked Listeria monocytogenes outbreak, businesses big and small are dealing with the fallout.

The song, according to KOTA TV, remains the same – it’s not my product (I don’t think), but because of all the uncertainty sales are taking a hit.Unknown-21

Oh and we haven’t had an illness ever.

Recent reports from the CDC about Listeria outbreaks have owner Lori Carson worried that she will miss out on tending to customers minds or stomachs.

“It was Friday afternoon I got a phone call asking if it was safe to eat my apples. I was extremely confused why that question came out,” Carson said. Recent customers explained to Carson the headlines they read about the CDC report.

“It scared me a little bit and by Friday afternoon our sales did drop off. I wasn’t sure if it was just the afternoon or if it was due to this broadcast about caramel apples,” Carson said.

The report linked the listeria outbreak to pre-packaged, mass produced caramel apples and not the ones made fresh daily by local businesses.

After selling more than 5,000 apples this holiday season, Carson is happy to say she’s had no complaints.

“We’ve never had a complaint about one apple ever making someone sick,” Carson said.

Carson also says concerned customers may have been a blessing in disguise.

“I’m glad I got the phone call. It alerted me it made me aware that I needed to address the problem, that people are safe,” Carson said.

And unlike the pre-packaged caramel apples you find in stores the apples at Caramel Creations are refrigerated through the entire process to help ensure their safety to the public.

Yep, and Listeria monocytogenes grows at refrigeration temperatures.