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Science Media Monitor No. 4: Crisis and Self-Correction in Science

For science to be self-correcting, scientists must uncover problems that threaten its integrity, identify and implement remedies, and ensure that the remedies work. In its fourth report, the Annenberg Science Media Monitor focuses on media reports about problems and science and efforts to address them.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s researchers did a content analysis of stories published in print and online from April 2012 to April 2018. The 99 stories were found in the LexisNexis and Factiva databases in a search for headline terms such as “crisis,” “broken,” “failure,” “fraud,” “peer review” “problem,” “replication,” “retraction,” “scandal,” or “self-correction” along with the word “science.”

The Media Monitor reported three findings:

  • More than half of the articles (52%) used a “science is broken” or “science is in crisis” frame;
  • More than a third of the articles (35%) were written by a scientist;
  • The percentage of articles that mentioned solutions to problems or evidence that science is self-correcting increased to 83% in 2017-18 from a prior high of 43% in 2015-16.
Annenberg Science Media Monitor 4: Crisis and Self-Correction in Science
Science Media Monitor 4: Crisis and Self-Correction in Science


The digest was first disseminated at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in February 2019 with the generous assistance of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. To download the digest of the fourth report on crisis and self-correction in science, click here.

Past reports of the Annenberg Science Media Monitor have focused on:

The reports are available at

The Annenberg Science Media Monitor seeks to increase public understanding of the scientific process by improving science reporting in the news media. The Media Monitor does this by analyzing the news coverage of widely reported scientific findings and disseminating the results to science journalists as well as the science community. Because the media play such a vital role in shaping public perceptions of science, there is value in understanding how the media cover scientific discovery, retracted findings, and the well-being of science, and describe solutions to problems in science or evidence of self-correction.

The Science Media Monitor is supported by a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation.