When you publish a story about a study or scientific paper, please provide enough information to find the study you are citing. While you do a good job of citing quotes, I’ve noticed that it is frequently impossible to identify the particular study in question. This is almost universal in opinion pieces, but is strikingly common in news stories as well. This is unfortunate. If the study is interesting or odd, I want to be able to quickly find it and look at it in more detail. Being able to find the source is particularly important when a story is based on a press release or news conference, not the paper itself. These secondary sources often spin or even contradict the original source, so I need to be able to look at the original.
So, please, don’t just write “According to a study by researchers at the University of ….” Instead, give the title of the paper and the name of the lead author. Sure, you’ll have to find the paper instead of just reading the press release, but this’ll give you the opportunity to read the abstract to see if it matches the press release. You may be surprised at how often it doesn’t. For your online editions, please provide a link to the abstract, or at least list the doi. After all, bandwidth is cheap, and you can spare a few extra bytes.
An informed reader
For online news sites, there is no excuse for not providing enough detail to find the original. If you did enough research to write the story, you have the information. Bandwidth is inexpensive, so spend the couple extra seconds to actually post enough information to locate the sources. I’m not expecting a perfect bibliography, just enough details to figure it out myself. Not that I’d complain if you included a bibliography.