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Hey, this was an unusual media request

This popped up in the inbox:

Hi Professor Gelman – my name is ** and I’m a journalist who reports on issues of ** conducted by **.

Recently ** announced the department was working with “research groups” to study and analyze the **.

To further my reporting on this issue, I am reaching out to the top experts in the field of ** (your name was suggested) to find out which research group is currently working with ** on this project.

So I was wondering – are you the one teaming up with ** or the ** to analyze and interpret its ** data? Or have you been approached to do so?



No, it wasn’t about Freud.


  1. I am curious. What was the dude requesting actually?

    • Jay says:

      It’s even a step further, imho. The reporter is reaching out to experts and asking them to identify (potentially) third party research groups (likely friends and colleagues) doing certain work: “(your name was suggested) to find out which research group is currently working with ** on this project”

      Reporters ofc can ask whatever they like, but I see the weirdness and reason for sharing it. The most charitable interpretation is that reporter is seeking a shortcut. Again no problem. But in a scientific community it is worth discussing how to handle requests for identities of third parties and confirming their association with specific research.

  2. John N-G says:

    Frankly, I’ve always been suspicious of **.

  3. bbis says:

    Surprising you were asked if you were working with ** (Asterix Asterix). It seems more likely you would be working Vitalstatistix.

  4. Peter Ellis says:

    I don’t get why this is unusual? Isn’t it just a journo following a (admittedly thin) lead to get at bottom of a story?

    • Andrew says:


      There was nothing wrong with this media request. It didn’t bother me. It was just unusual. I’ve never received such a request before.

      • Ben says:

        > It was just unusual

        Add another example! What’s different here?

        • Andrew says:


          What was unusual was that there are some public agencies that have announced that they’re collaborating with experts, but the agencies didn’t say who the experts are, so the journalist is cold-calling people to try to figure out who are these experts. Over the years, I’ve been contacted by lots of journalists about different topics; sometimes I’m an expert and sometimes I’m not. But this is the first time I’ve been asked if I’ve been involved in a project where my participation would be a secret.

  5. Ben says:

    “research lab” sounds much more exciting than research lab.

    I’ll try to remember to use quotes the next time I tell someone what I do.

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