Following concerns that “bad science reporting” may lead to dubious conclusions that are then conveyed to wider audiences via referencing and science news websites, Compound Interest, have produced an infographic called “Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science”. It is a 12 point list of issues to look out for when reading an article or appraising a piece of research.
Areas covered in the list include:
- Understanding that headlines may be sensationalised and results misinterpreted so going back to the original research paper is advised.
- Conflicts of interest, speculation and selective data reporting may distort the conclusions drawn.
- Examination of the study design of trials is important. For example, are the sample size and control groups valid for the trial reported? Has the article been through a peer review process?
The guide is not designed as a complete overview and it should be noted that not every point is applicable all the time. However, as a tool to help the reader assess the quality of the report, it provides a good starting point.