Community standards and participation guidelines
By commenting with Science Feedback, scientists are contributing to rigorous science-based analyses of online information. Our contributors check that the facts and logical reasoning in press articles are consistent with the latest scientific knowledge. Our analyses aim to provide useful feedback to authors and the general public.
To safeguard the credibility of Science Feedback, contributors are required to have appropriate credentials in a relevant scientific area and to demonstrate high-level ethical standards in their scientific and public practice.
Contributors are asked to respect the following standards and guidelines when commenting with Science Feedback to guarantee the rigor, quality and credibility of our analyses. The fundamental principle underlying these standards is that contributors must exercise the same standards of excellence that they expect from news sources.
1. Practice and promote scientific inquiry
Science Feedback is dedicated to the practice and promotion of scientific inquiry. We recognize that the value of science lies not only in the collection of facts but also in the logical reasoning that allows scientists to build on those facts to understand the world around us.
When analyzing a media article, reviewers must practice scientific inquiry by:
- ensuring that facts are correct (fact checking)
- drawing attention to all relevant evidence (providing context, giving due weight, not cherry picking)
- using robust logical reasoning
- limiting authoritative comments to their area of expertise; when commenting outside their direct field of expertise, contributors must back their claims using strongly supported scientific theories and observations and cite reliable sources.
Science Feedback aims to go beyond “fact checking” by providing further context for factual claims and by scrutinizing the conclusions derived from those claims. Give due weight to different points of view – if an interpretation is defended by a minority of scientists in the field, intellectual honesty requires this to be made clear – but by the same token, do not exaggerate the importance of minor points of difference.
2. Uphold the highest intellectual and academic standards
The credibility of Science Feedback depends on each of its contributors upholding the highest intellectual and academic standards. To maintain transparency, we require contributors to identify themselves on our website using their real name and photograph.
There are several ways in which a scientist can undermine her or his own credibility:
- engaging in academic misconduct (fabrication or falsification of results, plagiarism…)
- not disclosing important conflicts of interest
- defaming others or falsely accusing others of defamation
- propagating misinformation, whether intentionally or not
- supporting or endorsing sources of information not based on scientific inquiry
Contributors must ensure that all information they share with the media is supported by solid scientific evidence. If your message becomes distorted by the media, you should promptly issue a public correction (for instance, by annotating the article) in order to join as or remain a contributor of Science Feedback. Contributors must promptly correct any significant errors found in their own work.
3. Be constructive and considerate
Stay on topic. Remember that short, pithy comments often make a point more forcefully than longer explanations. Take responsibility for the quality of the comments you make. Contributors are solely responsible for the content of their comments. We may make suggestions to improve the clarity of your comments. Remember that your audience may not have a background in science.
When annotating or replying to annotations, comment on the content, on ideas and logical elements rather than on the author, his intentions or political views. If you see a confusing or ambiguous comment by another contributor, inform the contributor and/or us. Do not attack people and do not respond to attacks. Do not misrepresent others’ points. Do not ignore reasonable and well-supported questions. Do ignore questions that are poorly informed, that misrepresent others, or that are built on poor logic.
Science Feedback reserves the right to suspend or exclude contributors who breach any of these standards. Report violations of these terms of service, as well as our standards, to us directly.
Science Feedback’s commitment to objectivity
Science Feedback is dedicated to science education and does not advocate for any particular policy, nor does it support any political candidate or party.
Science Feedback ensures that our staff are not directly involved in political parties or advocacy organizations that could bias their neutrality and undermine their commitment to scientific accuracy.
These guidelines have been inspired by: