The revised guidelines developed in conjunction with the Royal Society are now here




Motherhood in Western Europe

Insights from Western European Mothers

The changing face of motherhood — Western Europe

The accompanying reports combine a review of existing literature with an analysis of original quantitative data derived from a poll of 9,582 mothers from 12 countries in Western Europe, making it one of the largest studies of this kind ever conducted

Child Obesity and Health

An analysis of the latest available data from the Health Survey for England (HSE)

Child Obesity and Health — download the full report in pdf format

In this ‘National Childhood Obesity Week’, the SIRC report, Children, obesity and heath: Recent trends, holds up a true mirror, accurately reflecting the trend towards slimmer, healthier children. more

The Future of Freemasonry

An examination of the role of Freemasonry in the 21st century


This report is, as far as we know, an account of the first ever study that has been commissioned by Freemasons from a non-Masonic body. None of the SIRC members involved in the project are Freemasons, a fact that evoked surprise and welcome in equal measure from the Lodge members we met. more

The Changing Face of Motherhood

Insights from three generations of mothers


The report seeks to answer some specific questions about the changing face of motherhood and determine the extent to which modern ‘solutions’ to motherhood are more or less beneficial than the solutions of the past. more

Code of Practice / Guidelines on Science and Health Communication.
Prepared by the Social Issues Research Centre in partnership with the Royal Institution – Sept 2000


Q: Why does it matter how health and science issues are reported?

A: It matters because misleading information is positively dangerous: it can even cost lives

  1. There is a natural and inevitable tension between journalists and groups of professionals whose activities are the subject of widespread publicity.

  2. No-one expects journalists and politicians always to agree on the way politics should be reported, and some difference of perspective and emphasis between journalists and the science community is similarly to be expected.

  3. There is, however, a significant amount of common ground. All responsible journalists and all responsible scientists can agree, without prejudice to their editorial and professional freedoms, that the interests of the general public should always be paramount.

  4. Information which is misleading, as well as information which is factually inaccurate, can cause real distress to vulnerable groups. At worst, it can even be argued that misleading information resulting in unjustified behavioural changes (e.g. reluctance to undergo vaccination because of a scare) can cost lives.

In the context of health and science reporting, we recommend that a simple hypothetical question should be used by both journalists and scientists as a rule of thumb to help judge where the public interest lies.

The hypothetical question is as follows:

You are a scientist about to be interviewed on research results you believe to be important. Or you are a journalist responsible for the reporting of the same research results.

Imagine you have a relative or close friend who is sensitive or vulnerable to information about a particular topic (for example, a cancer patient or a parent considering a vaccination for a child).

If the only source of information available to that relative or close friend was the interview you are about to give or the report you are about to publish, would you feel comfortable with the way you propose to characterise and interpret the story?