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Checklist for credibility

In this article, Miriam Clegg shows how you can use a checklist to judge the credibility of a food and nutrition news report or article.
© EIT Food

In Step 1.8 you heard about the paper by Kininmonth et al. (2017) in which the researchers investigated the quality of nutrition articles in popular national daily newspapers in the UK. The tool they used to do this was developed by Robinson et al. (2012) and you can use this to assess newspaper articles too.

The tool consists of 21 questions and articles are allocated a score for each question.

  • Questions 1–8 are considered essential criteria so a point is allocated if it is met.

  • Questions 9–17 are considered desirable, and points are awarded if the criteria are met and zero if the criteria is not.

  • Questions 18–21 are considered essential criteria so for these questions a point is deducted if the criteria are not met.

Articles can receive a maximum of 17 points or minimum of −12. Articles are then categorised based on the quality score:

  • Poor quality articles score less than zero
  • Satisfactory articles score 0–10
  • High-quality articles score more than 10.

The questions are listed below. In the next Step, you’ll have the opportunity to use the assessment tool yourself.

    Yes No
1 Does the article cite a journal? +1 -1
2 Does the article cite an author from the journal paper? +1 -1
3 Does the article cite an affiliated organisation? +1 -1
4 Does the article state the number of subjects (sample size)? +1 -1
5 Does the article state whether the study differs from previous research? +1 -1
6 Does the article compare statistics, are they misused or misrepresented? +1 -1
7 Does the article give adequate background? +1 -1
8 Is the headline a fair reflection of the article and journal paper? +1 -1
9 Does the article state whether the findings are preliminary or conclusive? +1 0
10 Does the article state whether the study differs from mainstream science? +1 0
11 Does the article state whether the findings are statistically significant? +1 0
12 Does the article report the absolute risk? +1 0
13 Does the article report the relative risk? +1 0
14 Does the article explore the safety of the intervention? +1 0
15 Does the article explore any caveats? +1 0
16 Does the article quote a specialist opinion? +1 0
17 Is the study representative of the wider population, or does the article state that the results cannot be generalised? +1 0
18 Does the article mention data that was not in the cited article? -1 0
19 Does the article have the potential to cause undue harm or optimism? -1 0
20 Does the article generalise from laboratory-based/animal studies to humans without explicitly stating so? -1 0
21 Does the article state that a ‘breakthrough’ has been made, or a ‘cure’ been found? -1 0
  TOTAL SCORE    
© EIT Food
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Food and Nutrition: The Truth Behind Food Headlines

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