Crash Courses

Stats essentials for math-averse reporters

This Crash Course covers statistics essentials for reporters.

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What are Crash Courses?

Many journalists lack confidence when including numbers in their reporting, or they fear misrepresenting the data when it comes to covering facts and figures, studies, or technical reports. This free, one-hour “crash course”—designed for reporters who cover science, health, or environment issues but lack statistics or data training—aims to take the stress out of reporting on the numbers that could be crucial to your next story.

Tori Espensen and Emily Mueller—Ph.D. scientists and trained science communicators—lead a 45-minute presentation and 15-minutes of open Q&A that will help you:

  • Understand statistical concepts such as risk and odds, correlation strength, absolute and relative numbers, and statistical significance and how to use them in your reporting;
  • Explain to your audience how much uncertainty exists around a given finding and how to judge the strength and importance of that finding;
  • Recognize statistical red flags that should prompt deeper questions about a study or dataset; and
  • Include numbers and data in your reporting in ways that are accessible, clear, and meaningful to readers/listeners/viewers.

Can’t make the last session? Here’s our schedule for future dates of this course:

  • June 25, 2024
  • October 24, 2024

Tori Espensen

Scientific outreach manager

Tori is a neuroscientist and science communicator with a background studying how the brain functions in severe mental disorders. She completed both a Ph.D. in biological psychopathology and a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and has written about science as a blogger, journalist, and scriptwriter. In her role as scientific outreach manager, Tori applies her scientific and communications expertise to finding interview-ready scientists to connect with journalists looking for expert sources. She also leads the curriculum development and instruction of workshops aimed at increasing journalists’ understanding of science and their comfort with incorporating scientific evidence into news stories.

Emily Mueller

Scientific outreach manager

Emily is a chemist with a background in polymer science and a passion for science communication. In her role as scientific outreach manager at SciLine, Emily works to connect scientists with journalists who seek technical experts on deadline. Prior to working at SciLine, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where she studied additives that help flexible solar cells last longer. There she also led science communication training for graduate students and postdocs, and she wrote about science research, education, outreach, and her graduate student experiences for various outlets.

More Stats essentials for math-averse reporters sessions will be scheduled in the future. You can sign up here to be alerted when registration opens for future sessions and to join SciLine’s network of journalists.

Past sessions were held on the following dates:

  • January 29, 2024