Data in the Media

Course #: DMJN208

Tracking Down a Study from the News

Why go to the source?

  • Even when writers believe they are being totally factual and objective in their reporting, they select certain details to discuss and not others; and they choose certain words to relate these details and not others; and they organize facts in one way and not another. You will want to evaluate these choices. You will also want to check if there were nuances ignored or significant parts of the study not mentioned.
  • You may want to look at the methodology of the study itself, asking yourself such questions as:
    • Is the sample size representative?
    • Do the authors prove causation?
    • Is the evidence convincing?

Tracking down a hyperlinked source

  • If you are fortunate, the journalist will, not only have provided the name of the published paper, but also have linked to the full text of it.

Tracking down a study when there is no full text

  • Or the journalist may have provided a link to the digital object identifier (doi). This "doi" provides the title of the study, the author(s), the date, and the journal. However, the full text of the study is not always provided in this case. To find the study itself, copy and paste its title into the Laurier Library search box. If the study does not appear, click on “Journals” on the left side of the library homepage and type in the name of the journal. Then search within the journal. If Laurier does not own the journal, request it through interlibrary loan.

Tracking down a study when no title is provided

  • Try a Google search using the author’s name and institution (if given). Or use the author’s name and keywords that describe the study. You might find the name of the study on the author’s homepage.