What is this newsletter about?
This is a newsletter to keep you updated with great new scientific research. Usually, this will be a list of new studies put into context. Occasionally, it will be an overview of a topic I’ve been following in depth.
Why am I writing this?
Science helps us make sense of the world around us, and scientific knowledge has helped people make the world a better place. But a lot of great research gets overshadowed in the news by flashy, low-quality research, which makes it hard to know what to believe.
So, here are some things I aim to do with this newsletter:
Explain what makes research reliable, and when to trust the latest finding reported in the news or the established consensus in a field
Highlight great advances in scientific knowledge that researchers have uncovered from careful work over many years
Show how this knowledge can improve people’s lives
I care a lot about research integrity, which means I try to avoid errors and I focus on high quality studies and in fields I’m familiar with (such as health, epidemiology, genetics, psychiatry and medicine), and explain why I find them credible.
These are aims, rather than a guarantee. I recheck my posts a few times and often ask others to review parts as well, but some mistakes can slip through – see my ‘Earn a reward by pointing out an error I’ve made’ section at the end of this page.
I have no plans to monetise this newsletter – it will remain free.
If you’d like to support causes I care about, I recommend donating to any of these:
GiveWell – which funds charities that make a big difference to people’s lives by providing them with malaria nets and treatment, vitamin A supplements, and more.
Evidence Action – which provides clean water dispensers that prevent diarrheal diseases and reduce infant deaths, and treatment to remove parasitic worms that can be debilitating.
Ukraine – to support their medical supplies, defence and efforts to rebuild.
And of course, you can also support me by sharing this newsletter with your friends.
A little about me
I’m a researcher on global health at Our World in Data. I’m also a founding editor of Works in Progress, where I recruit and work with authors for our quarterly magazine. Occasionally, I write about various science topics for online magazines and publications.
My background is a mix of biomedical sciences, genetics, epidemiology and psychiatry. I recently completed a PhD at The University of Hong Kong and King’s College London, where my thesis focused on differences in study design and how they can influence results in the field of psychiatric genetics.
Outside of work, I enjoy photography, birdwatching, long walks, museums, film noir, silly gameshows and eating doughnuts.
Here are some ways to get in touch with me:
If you’re a subscriber, you can directly press reply to a Substack post you receive by email
You can find me on Twitter at @salonium (where my DMs are open)
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a(n aspiring) science writer or blogger and this newsletter has inspired you, say hello! :) And in case you’re interested, we’re often on the lookout for new authors to publish at Works in Progress.
Earn a reward by pointing out an error I’ve made
If you spot any errors or mistakes I’ve made, please let me know.
For now, I’ve set aside a pot of up to £300 for rewards for people who catch errors in my work. This includes my writing in this newsletter, and also other formally published work; published in 2023 or later. If/when this runs out, I’ll re-evaluate or top-up the pot. This system may change in the future.
I’ve set this up because: I don’t want to misinform people; I find mistakes annoying, and want a routine procedure to deal with them; and I learn something new when I’m corrected. This reward system was inspired by my friend Ruben.
You can earn a reward for catching different kinds of mistakes: for example, errors that change the interpretation of a claim; bugs in my code; or even if you point out that I’ve used poor sourcing without mentioning caveats.
I’ll offer £5 (for a minor error), £15 (moderate error), or £40 (major error). It’s difficult to define in advance what counts as each, but I’ll try to be fair.
For very minor errors (e.g. typos, grammatical errors), you will earn my personal gratitude.
If you point out an error but don’t want to receive a reward, I’ll instead donate the amount to a cause listed above.