DNA barcoding in the media: Does coverage of cool science reflect its social context?

Janis Geary, Emma Camicioli, Tania Bubela, Dirk Steinke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Paul Hebert and colleagues first described DNA barcoding in 2003, which led to international efforts to promote and coordinate its use. Since its inception, DNA barcoding has generated considerable media coverage. We analysed whether this coverage reflected both the scientific and social mandates of international barcoding organizations. We searched newspaper databases to identify 900 English-language articles from 2003 to 2013. Coverage of the science of DNA barcoding was highly positive but lacked context for key topics. Coverage omissions pose challenges for public understanding of the science and applications of DNA barcoding; these included coverage of governance structures and issues related to the sharing of genetic resources across national borders. Our analysis provided insight into how barcoding communication efforts have translated into media coverage; more targeted communication efforts may focus media attention on previously omitted, but important topics. Our analysis is timely as the DNA barcoding community works to establish the International Society for the Barcode of Life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-750
Number of pages13
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Access and benefit sharing
  • CBOL
  • DNA barcoding
  • Genetic resources
  • IBOL
  • Nagoya Protocol
  • Newspaper coverage
  • Public understanding of science
  • Science communication


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