“What researchers now can tell us” : Representing scientific uncertainty in journalism


Publication date


Series/Report no

OBS - Observatorio;3, (4)


OberCom - Observatorio da Comunicação

Document type


Little research has been done on how journalism deals with and constructs scientific uncertainty. This paper applies Critical Discourse Analysis to explore how scientific uncertainty (and certainty) is constructed in news articles in elite newspapers written by esteemed American journalists. Categories such as discourse representation, presupposition and metaphors are examined closely in comparative readings of journalistic texts. The selected articles cover the same issue, so-called frontier research on possible biological causes of violent human behavior. The analysis displays distinct differences between the articles as to how they construct knowledge claims in the research portrayed. It suggests how the language in articles that include several voices and opposing viewpoints, may advocate specific knowledge claims, “ways of seeing”, and top-down power relations between science and the public. But the analysis also attempts to unfold a representation of uncertain science that is more substantially “multiperspectival”, indicating a more dialogical and deliberative news coverage of science.


Permanent URL (for citation purposes)

  • http://hdl.handle.net/10642/341