Category Archives: Covering medical studies

Tip sheet suggests self-guided tutorial on understanding medical research

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: ibbl via Flickr

Photo: ibbl via Flickr

If you’re relatively new to reporting on medical studies or looking for a refresher as you dive back in after a long hiatus, Sharon Begley’s blog piece earlier this year and this quick-and-dirty refresher at AHCJ’s Medical Studies core topic area are great places to start.

But as you spend more time reporting on research, you need to learn more of the nuts and bolts and drill down into specifics of study design, drug approval, and related topics.

You need a Medical Research 201 rather than a 101. This new tip sheet explains one way to conduct a self-guided tutorial if you already feel comfortable with the basics. See the tip sheet.

Comparative Effectiveness Research Fellows named for 2016

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Ten journalists have been chosen for the second class of the AHCJ Fellowship on Comparative Effectiveness Research. The fellowship program was created with support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to help reporters and editors produce more accurate in-depth stories on medical research and how medical decisions are made.

The fellows will gather in Washington, D.C., the week of Sept. 11 for a series of presentations, roundtables, how-to database sessions and interactions with researchers.

Read more and find out who was selected.

How to think about impact factors: A journalist’s perspective

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

This is the second of two blog posts providing different perspectives on the value of considering a journal’s impact factor when considering whether to report on a study published in it. Today I feature an interview with AHCJ Vice President Ivan Oransky, M.D., who is co-founder of Retraction Watch and founder of Embargo Watch. He also is vice president and global editorial director at MedPage Today.

Oransky brings a journalist’s perspective to the importance of journal impact factors in evaluating the value of a study. My earlier post featured an interview with Hilda Bastian, Ph.D. who has background in research. Continue reading

How to think about impact factors: A researcher’s perspective

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Back in February, my tip sheet on the AHCJ site about evaluating the quality of a study mentioned that a journal’s impact factor may be considered in assessing whether to report on a study. While mentioned as one factor among many — and never a definitive one — it inspired a fair amount of debate on Twitter about the value, or lack thereof, of impact factors, especially given the rise of new open-access journals that haven’t been around long enough to have a high impact factor.

To add to the discussion, I reached out to two individuals with different perspectives— largely related to their differences in goals, values and needs in the spheres of research and journalism. Today’s post features a Q&A with Hilda Bastian, Ph.D., scientist, blogger at Absolutely Maybe on the Public Library of Science (PLOS) site and cartoonist at the wonderful and educational Statistically Funny site. Bastian also is a chief editor at PubMed Health and PubMed Commons, but her words here represent only her own views and not the views of any organization, including the National Institutes of Health. Bastian comes from a background of scientific research. Continue reading

Another chance to get the story on women’s pelvic exams right

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Ann C. Ball via Flickr

Photo: Ann C. Ball via Flickr

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reported in late June that the evidence does not currently support routine pelvic exams during a woman’s OB-GYN visit, most media outlets covered it, as they should have.

But the quality of that coverage was spotty. Few stories captured the important nuances that distinguish pelvic exams from cervical cancer screenings and general wellness visits. Nor did many include the essential elements that women should know to understand the implications of the new recommendations.

Fortunately, the story isn’t over. What the commission issued were draft recommendations that won’t become official until after a public comment period that ended July 25. Continue reading