I am very pleased to announce that this project has received a two-year, $1.3 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. I had hinted at this good news with some of you in recent weeks, but was not able to share details until the grant paperwork was signed.
“LJAF’s Research Integrity initiative aims to improve the reliability and validity of scientific evidence across fields that inform governmental policy, philanthropic endeavors, and individual decision making. As a society, we often rely on published scientific research to guide our policy, health, and lifestyle choices. Although some published research is rigorous and reliable, some is not. Worse, the unreliability of research is often difficult or impossible to ascertain. LJAF is currently working to address this problem by supporting organizations that are committed to improving the openness, transparency, and quality of research.”
Stuart Buck, JD, PhD, the Vice President of Research Integrity for the Arnold Foundation, said:
“With a ‘publish or perish’ mentality, researchers are incentivized to produce findings that are striking enough to grab headlines and citations, even though such findings may be exaggerated. News organizations often pass along such findings uncritically, without carefully considering how a study was conducted and whether the results are based on accurate science. We are pleased to provide funding so that Gary Schwitzer and his team can help the media to evaluate medical studies and press releases with a skeptical eye.”
LJAF had earlier caught my eye with its support of Dr. John Ioannidis’ Meta-Research Innovation Center, or METRICS, at Stanford. For years, I have urged journalists to follow Ioannidis’ work.
Another notable LJAF-funded initiative that I knew about was the Nutrition Science Initiative. The co-founder of that project, Gary Taubes, is well known by many journalists and by those who follow nutrition science news closely. Here’s what we’re going to do with the funding:
The Dean of the School of Public Health, John R. Finnegan, Jr., PhD, said:
“The School of Public Health is delighted to host the Center and to engage with Gary Schwitzer in its important mission of improving the quality of media reporting about health. This is a true public service.”
I am thankful for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s interest in, and support of, this project. Many of you have written or told us that this project can’t be allowed to die. Now we can continue our mission of improving the public dialogue about health care.
At the same time, I want to thank again the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, which made this project possible with funding that began in 2005, running through mid-2013.
Let me emphasize that no funder – indeed, no person except those on my editorial team – has ever influenced what is written or how it is written on our website. That will not change; the LJAF will have no influence or control over the project’s editorial process or decision-making.
The newly redesigned website – with the rollout of the new systematic reviews of health care news releases – may not be available until March or April. The redesign and relaunch is a complex effort and we’ll introduce it as soon as we can. But starting January 5, the team of reviewers will be at work publishing systematic criteria-driven news story reviews again – something we haven’t been able to do since May 2013.
The Health News Watchdog blog will still be lively, just as it remained over the past 18 months without funding. And we’ll begin working on the systematic review of health care news releases – behind the scenes – so that they’re ready to be published when the newly redesigned site is ready.
Our team is excited about 2015. Thanks to each of you for not giving up on us. We’ll work very hard to earn your trust, your interest, and your continued support.
Thanks for the early articles about the new grant, and for the kind words:
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