While the twelve items in the Rough Guide are obviously open to some interpretation and criticism – for example, finding a headline this is not sensational in any field would be exceptional – but they have the feeling of being generally right and, if nothing else, a useful checklist when considering science writing. Here’s why it was made:
The vast majority of people will get their science news from online news site articles, and rarely delve into the research that the article is based on. Personally, I think it’s therefore important that people are capable of spotting bad scientific methods, or realising when articles are being economical with the conclusions drawn from research, and that’s what this graphic aims to do. Note that this is not a comprehensive overview, nor is it implied that the presence of one of the points noted automatically means that the research should be disregarded. This is merely intended to provide a rough guide to things to be alert to when either reading science articles or evaluating research.
The Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science was produced by Compound Interest – a blog by a graduate chemist and teacher in the UK, “creating graphics looking at the chemistry and chemical reactions we come across on a day-to-day basis”.