Scientists generally have a higher level of professionalism and credibility than self-appointed experts and employees in banks, think tanks, organisations etc.
Do not use the same scientists over and over again. Find someone who has researched your specific topic.
A multitude of experts are ready to be quoted in the media every day.
But having a master’s degree from a university does not mean that you are a scientist. Fancy titles from companies, banks, NGOs, think tanks and the like do not necessarily mean that you have found the right expert.
It is important to be discriminating when selecting a scientist as a source.
This article is part of the guide 11 tips for journalists: How to avoid blunders when reporting on science. The guide is accessible in three formats:
Online articles regarding each of the 11 tips.
The full guide of 11 tips as a PDF-file.
The 11 tips as a checklist, a one-pager.
If you are uncertain about who to choose, a good tip is that scientists from universities and other research institutions generally have a higher level of professionalism and credibility than self-appointed experts and professionals with an agenda.
If journalists always interview the same media-savvy scientists, the result may be that the media creates a distorted — and perhaps incorrect — picture of a field of research.
During the COVID-19 crisis, for example, the same scientists were asked to comment on everything from cleaning to vaccines and mutations, bandages and zoo closures.
It goes without saying that no scientist is an expert in everything. Therefore, ask the scientists or the universities’ press staff whose research relates most closely to your specific angle on a topic.
Read more tips by clicking the blinking icons at the left in the graphic below.