The move comes after concern from within the body that research published in the mainstream media often receives little or no verification and can dangerously mislead the public and policy makers.
Examples cited by the Society include the unproven claim by the Raelian Movement that it created a human clone and a disputed paper on genetically modified foods published in 2001.
The advisory group, led by The Royal Society’s vice-president Sir Patrick Bateson and including Cardiff University journalism expert Professor Justin Lewis, will investigate how scientists communicate their research to the
media. It aims to report to the Society early next year.
‘The study is not aimed at the media but rather scientists and publishers,’ said Bob Ward, senior manager for policy communication at The Royal Society.
The group will look at the effectiveness of the traditional ‘peer review’ method used by scientific journals, where research papers are checked by scientists in the same field as the author. It is also keen to receive views on what constitutes adequate research checks.