• Link to the paper! (Bloggers, I’m talking to you)

    I don’t get it, and I’m annoyed!

    I just spent a half hour tracking down some papers on prostate cancer research that have been reported in the media lately, including on prominent health care-focused blogs written by professional journalists. It shouldn’t have taken me so long. But the media reports didn’t mention or link to the exact article. Why?

    Why can’t journalists, and in particular blogger-journalists, link to the article? All abstracts are ungated. Link to them! Please. (Or at least provide the article title, authors, and journal name — enough information to uniquely identify the paper.)

    It’s frustrating because the style seems to be to link all around the study — to the PI, to the institution of the PI, to the professional organization relevant to the PI’s field, to the PI’s spouse’s cousin’s cupcake-making business, and so forth — but never to the study itself. It’s like referencing the date of Thanksgiving by explaining the typical concerns of Americans the weeks before and after. (“I’m thinking of a holiday for which the week before people worry about traffic and airport security screenings and the week after they worry about congestion at the mall. Wanna guess? Go on. I’ll wait.”) Come on! Out with it! Spill the beans! Gimme the info! Sometimes the journal isn’t even named. What’s the deal?

    It seems as if journalists are taught in journalism school to write things like, “A new study by Harvard researchers find that consuming more albumin causes your feet to fall off.” How ’bout linking to that “new study” directly? You’re interviewing the study author anyway (usually) or have received a press release that describes exactly where the study is (I presume). How hard is this?

    As Aaron asked this morning, explain it to me like I’m an idiot. And, give me the link like I can’t otherwise find the paper, because, you know what, it actually isn’t that easy and I don’t enjoy playing “guess that study.” I’ve got enough to do on my own job.

    UPDATE: In the absence of a link, I’d accept enough information to uniquely identify the paper: journal name, paper title, authors, etc.

    • Perhaps the media reports are based on secondary sources and the report has not seen the published article.

    • Here! Here!

    • Agree completely. I don’t get it at all. I include links to all the papers I mention as well as supplementary resources that a reader might find interesting. This is the great strength — and beauty — of the Internet. Why bloggers and mainstream media reporters don’t get it is beyond me.

      Michael McCarthy

      • I would accept as an alternative to a link, enough information to uniquely identify the paper (journal, title, authors, and the like). Whatever it takes to find it trivially in a Google search is fine by me. Sometimes I don’t link to all papers but I do provide academic-style references. One or the other, it should be standard.

    • I really hope they listen to you on this one.