Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Parking a comment here for the science training in journalism blog

Typed this up earlier and posted it but I don't think it was successful in getting through (as in I think the system lost it rather than it being rejected, as I didn't get the little announcement telling me it was awaiting moderation) so parking it here and will try again tomorrow.


Response to Getting started at the Science Training for Journalists blog

Congrats on the job, hope it goes well - it sounds really interesting.

Your list looks pretty good but I was also wondering if you'll have much of an opportunity to do some sort of ethnographic-y / situated thing with the journalists - finding out what their working lives are like and how likely it is that they'll be to be able to take up courses and learning opportunities.

I've no experience of journalism myself so no idea if they'd find it easy to turn up to an evening event (eg Stempra have run at least one after-work stats course run by David Spiegelhalter - it was great) or if it should be a day thing. Or if getting time out of the office is as difficult as it often is for healthcare professionals who might have to rearrange clinics / patient visits etc. Are those webinar type things likely to be useful, or things like Slideshare and even YouTube videos?

Also how is your role viewed among non-specialist journalists? Does everyone think 'thank goodness, someone's doing something practical and useful' or are people a bit miffed at the implications that they're struggling with science and stats etc?

There are a couple of organisations with an interest in the good reporting of health-related science that might be of use. The Patient Information Forum (PiF, is an independent organisation for consumer health professionals. I wrote about an event I attended which they organised, called "Healthy journalism - challenges and solutions" (, but those are just my rambling thoughts so I wouldn't give too much weight to them ;-)

The other is the AMRC (Association of Medical Research Charities, which is an umbrella organisation for about 100 health charities that fund medical research and support patients. I think all of those
charities will be approached by patients asking about treatments or discussions of their disease mentioned in the newspapers etc. I expect they'll have a particular interest in how the reporting of that sort of thing goes.

This is probably a bit of a crap idea but I was thinking of some sort of online chat / discussion forum, perhaps where people can ask and answer questions, either a regular live-chat thing, or a repository of knowledge built up from previous questions. Something a bit like "I'm a scientist get me out of here" but obviously private. An online 'stats surgery' perhaps. I'm not sure I'm explaining it very clearly!

I also think Trisha Greenhalgh's book 'How to read a paper' is very good (I should probably check and see if it's already listed in your resources) not just for the numerical side of things but for the real world questions that are very useful, such as "was this drug tested in a representative sample?" - the 'reading between the lines' stuff, pointing out what hasn't been made explicit but might be relevant.

Wishing you well,

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