10:02 PM

New Public Service Resource to Help Evaluate Accuracy of Scientific Claims Now Available

AAP and Member Publishers Sponsor and Provide Expertise to Free Guide

Washington, DC; February 8, 2013 — The Association of American Publishers and five preeminent scholarly publishing member organizations are sponsoring a new public service guide that explains how to evaluate scientific claims promoted in the media.

I Don’t Know What to Believe, launching nationally today and available free of charge in digital format, offers a straightforward approach to assessing the accuracy of science stories. It also explains the process called “Peer Review” conducted on manuscripts submitted for publication in fact-based scholarly journals: a formal, careful system, funded and led by publishers, which analyzes and approves the quality of research and reporting in an article before it is accepted for publication.

Sense About Science, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring accurate public discourse of science, first developed the guide for UK audiences. The new US version was produced with sponsorship and expertise from the AAP Professional and Scholarly Division and five member organizations: the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Physics, Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer and John Wiley & Sons.

Other sponsors are the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM); National Press Foundation; BioMed Central; Nature Publishing Group; Public Library of Science and Taylor & Francis Group.

“In a world where unfiltered news and information are everywhere, people are seeking a roadmap to distinguish what is sound, fact-based content. This guide offers tools to help serve that need,” said Susan King, Senior Vice President, Journals Publishing Group, ACS Publications and Chair, AAP Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Executive Committee. “What separates true scientific research from speculation, opinion and hype is peer review, which requires investment by publishers and involvement by the scientific community. The guide offers a fundamental understanding of this intensive process and its critical role in advancing knowledge in our society.”

I Don’t Know What to Believe offers an easy-to-follow overview of the processes that define sound scientific journal articles and how the scientific community shares research findings for greater goals. It also provides insight into ways to evaluate media reports and other scientific claims against the peer review process.

According to AAP data, less than 50% of submitted manuscripts are accepted for publication in scholarly journals after undergoing publishers’ peer review; for highly selective journals, that percentage is 5-10%. Publishers support a global community of researchers, editors, authors and reviewers in managing the peer review process as well as the editing; design; digitization to enable discovery, access and implementation; distribution; and preservation of the published article of record.

In addition to the digital format, I Don’t Know What to Believe is available as a printed pamphlet. Contact info@publishers.org for more details.


The Association of American Publishers (AAP) represents about four hundred member organizations including major commercial, digital learning and education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the industry’s priorities on policy, legislative and regulatory issues regionally, nationally and worldwide. These include the protection of intellectual property rights and worldwide copyright enforcement, digital and new technology issues, funding for education and libraries, tax and trade, censorship and literacy. Find us online at www.publishers.org or on twitter at @AmericanPublish.