2.3 The importance of establishing the provenance, objectivity and timeliness of information
When it comes to accurate and timely reporting of research, responsibility not only lies with the media who select ‘newsworthy’ and often controversial pieces, but also with the researchers who are disseminating the knowledge, institutions that were involved, members of the scientific and medical communities who provided peer-evaluations, assessment and comments, any professional bodies or organisations affiliated with the work, and journal editorial boards who will have ensured the validity and credibility of the work as part of a peer-review process. The scientific and ethical rigour of the work should have stood up to scrutiny by peers deemed to have sufficient expertise in the area. A ‘failure’ at key points in this process can have significant consequences, and could ultimately erode public trust and confidence.
All the more reason, therefore, at this advanced level of study, for us to go behind the headlines and to begin to explore some of the more contemporary and controversial findings within the field, to evaluate claims and assumptions, recognise different lines of evidence and appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of current knowledge in the study of mental health science. We will be looking at specific examples in later sections.
Reflect on your learning so far on this course.
What were the key issues that stood out for you?
How many of the key issues were you already familiar with?
Can you offer further or alternative perspectives, drawing on your own personal or professional experience?
The next section will introduce you to issues related to diagnosis, as we begin to explore anxiety.