Misinformation: an empirical study with scientists and communicators during the COVID-19 pandemic | BMJ Open Science
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-01-26
Abstract: Objectives To study the experiences and views within the health science community regarding the spread and prevention of science misinformation within and beyond the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods An exploratory study with an empirical ethics approach using qualitative interviews with Australians who produce, communicate and study health science research.
Results Key elements that participants considered might facilitate misinformation included: the production of low-quality, fraudulent or biased science research; inadequate public access to high-quality research; insufficient public reading of high-quality research. Strategies to reduce or prevent misinformation could come from within the academic community, academic and lay media publishing systems, government funders and educators of the general public. Recommended solutions from within the scientific community included: rewarding research translation, encouraging standardised study design, increasing use of automated quality assessment tools, mandating study protocol registration, transparent peer review, facilitating wider use of open access and use of newer technologies to target public audiences. There was disagreement over whether preprints were part of the problem or part of the solution.
Conclusions There is concern from within the health science community about systemic failings that might facilitate the production and spread of false or misleading science information. We advocate for further research into ways to minimise the production and spread of misinformation about COVID-19 and other science crises in the future.