Crisis or self-correction: Rethinking media narratives about the well-being of science

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Mar 13;115(11):2620-2627. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1708276114.


After documenting the existence and exploring some implications of three alternative news narratives about science and its challenges, this essay outlines ways in which those who communicate science can more accurately convey its investigatory process, self-correcting norms, and remedial actions, without in the process legitimizing an unwarranted "science is broken/in crisis" narrative. The three storylines are: (i) quest discovery, which features scientists producing knowledge through an honorable journey; (ii) counterfeit quest discovery, which centers on an individual or group of scientists producing a spurious finding through a dishonorable one; and (iii) a systemic problem structure, which suggests that some of the practices that protect science are broken, or worse, that science is no longer self-correcting or in crisis.

Keywords: framing scientific self-correction; narrative; scientific narratives; scientific news coverage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't