The European Investigative Journalism Conference

Deep dive into the scientific method

Science is everywhere: it permeates the discussions about the next possible epidemic, environmental resources, the impact of AI, and millions of other situations. However, journalists are often not trained nor equipped with the skills to deal with scientific resources.

How do you navigate scientific facts and data? Which papers and journals should you trust? How do you select your experts, their profiles, and their expertise? How do you understand whether your source is credible? What is a preprint, and why is it different from a validated piece of scientific finding? What is the difference between a scientific paper and another type of publication, such as a report or a press release?

In this masterclass, experienced science journalist Elisabetta Tola will lead you through a mix of conceptual and hands-on activities, in order to help you navigate the complexities of science communication and journalism practices.

The master class will include the following points:

  • how science works
  • sources of scientific data and papers – original papers, preprints, meta-reviews, and reports (peer review vs. unvalidated)
  • scientific hypothesis and pseudo-scientific theories
  • open science resources and platforms (for example, the EU open science strategy
  • how to read a scientific paper – where is the important information and what is less relevant
  • making sense of science statistics
  • dealing with uncertainty and complexity in risk communication
  • how to look for conflicts of interest or revolving doors
  • map of organisations/networks supporting journalists when covering science
  • principles, standards, and indicators of high-quality science communication
  • next frontiers: discrimination, gender and post-colonialism in science

Elisabetta Tola is an Italian science, tech, and data journalist, who holds a Ph.D in Microbiology. She is a 2019 Tow-Knight fellow from the Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY, and a president and co-founder of the independent non-profit journalism project, a Mediterranean centre that brings the scientific method into journalism. Elisabetta also works as a freelance chief editor at Il BO Live and as a presenter of Radio3Scienza at RAI Radio3. She has worked on multiple crossborder investigative projects, and as a media trainer on digital journalism and verification. She is the author of the handbooks “Driving Scientific Research into Journalistic Reporting” and “Making Sense of Science Stats”, and she co-authored the book “Semi ritrovati, un viaggio alla ricerca dell’agro-biodiversità.”