Which types of research are newsworthy? UK newspapers 2006-2015 citing Web of Science journals
Citations from news stories to scientific journals provide useful evidence about the dissemination of research findings to the public. This paper introduces a citation-based method to obtain information about news coverage of research on a large scale. ProQuest was used to search for citations to 9,639 Science and 3,412 Social Science Web of Science (WoS) journals from eight UK daily newspapers during 2006-2015 and an automatic method was applied to extract citations to academic journals from the full text of newspapers. Most Science (95%) and Social Science (94%) journals were never cited by these newspapers. Half of the cited Science journals covered medical or health-related topics, whereas 43% of the Social Sciences journals were related to psychiatry or psychology. A content analysis of the citing news stories found that the method identifies mentions of journals in news stories with very high accuracy and 94% of the journals mentioned reported research findings. From the citing news stories, 60% described research extensively and 53% used more than one source. There were variations in the extent to which newspapers reported good or bad news and most news stories had no comments about the quality of the reported research. Finally, a small number of prestigious British journals were cited often.