It remains an open question how medical themes are selected for the science sections. We posited the important role of the scientific journals as mediator and translator between the world of scientists and the world of journalists. In the study 3.381 articles were analyzed in the science sections of eight German national newspapers published between 12/01/95 and 05/31/96. Thirty-five per cent of the articles were on medical themes. Nearly 40 per cent of the medical articles used scientific journals as a source of information; in 30 per cent of the articles the scientific journals were named. Over half of the 351 articles were published in the ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’ and ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’. Eighty-seven per cent were shorter articles (‘Meldungen’ and ‘Berichte’). In 80 per cent of the articles the scientific journals were the single source of information. Seventy-four per cent of the articles occurred within one month of publication in the science journal.
     

The following hypothesises were confirmed: 1. There was a significant association between the impact factor of a scientific journal and the amount of citations in medical articles in the science sections of German national newspapers. Journals with high impact factors (´Nature´, ´Science´, ´New England Journal of Medicine´) were cited more often than other journals. 2. Studies which were commented in scientific journals were cited more often in the science sections of German national newspapers than other studies. 3. Studies which were adressed in press releases were cited more often in the science sections of German national newspapers than other studies.
     

In German newspapers the selection of medical topics into the science sections seem to be influenced by high ranking international scientific journals. Publications which are mentioned additionally in editorial comments and/or in press release were cited preferentially in the newspapers.
 

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The influence of scientific journals on the selection of medical topics in the scientific sectionsof german newspapers

Carola Pahl  

It remains an open question how medical themes are selected for the science sections. We posited the important role of the scientific journals as mediator and translator between the world of scientists and the world of journalists. In the study 3.381 articles were analyzed in the science sections of eight German national newspapers published between 12/01/95 and 05/31/96. Thirty-five per cent of the articles were on medical themes. Nearly 40 per cent of the medical articles used scientific journals as a source of information; in 30 per cent of the articles the scientific journals were named. Over half of the 351 articles were published in the ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’ and ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’. Eighty-seven per cent were shorter articles (‘Meldungen’ and ‘Berichte’). In 80 per cent of the articles the scientific journals were the single source of information. Seventy-four per cent of the articles occurred within one month of publication in the science journal.
     

The following hypothesises were confirmed: 1. There was a significant association between the impact factor of a scientific journal and the amount of citations in medical articles in the science sections of German national newspapers. Journals with high impact factors (´Nature´, ´Science´, ´New England Journal of Medicine´) were cited more often than other journals. 2. Studies which were commented in scientific journals were cited more often in the science sections of German national newspapers than other studies. 3. Studies which were adressed in press releases were cited more often in the science sections of German national newspapers than other studies.
     

In German newspapers the selection of medical topics into the science sections seem to be influenced by high ranking international scientific journals. Publications which are mentioned additionally in editorial comments and/or in press release were cited preferentially in the newspapers.
 

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