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Limit Less: media guide

As journalists you can help form a positive image of physics in the media, encourage more young people to do the subject, and ultimately tackle the challenges of tomorrow. Our guide will point the way.

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Young people and their families look towards the media as a source of authority on many subjects, such as physics, and are influenced by what they see and hear. 

But too often negative stereotypes of physics and physicists are perpetuated in trusted media outlets; one in four parents in a 2022 IOP-commissioned survey couldn’t remember seeing someone who was described as a physicist in the media in the last six months.  

As a result, many young people are put off the subject, including those from backgrounds currently under-represented in the physics community. That’s bad for them, as studying physics provides a multitude of skills and well-paid career options, but it is also bad for society as a whole, as we desperately need every physicist we can recruit to address the challenges of tomorrow.

“I never saw anyone like myself speaking about physics on the news.” – Female physicist

You as journalists can have life-changing impacts on those reading, watching or listening. To help, the IOP has produced a guide and a handy checklist to help ensure that your coverage of physics steers clear of entrenched stereotypes and instead presents an accurate representation of our subject and who does it.  

Our guide is packed with advice, plus we have a toolkit including sources for quotes, tips for inclusive language and links to physics explanations, along with other resources too. 

Physics is not the preserve of an elite and stereotypical few but home to a diverse range of people. Let’s make that clear to all the burgeoning scientists of the future. 

Download the guide

Limit Less media guide

How to report on physics and physicists in an accurate and accessible way

Download the guide (PDF, 1.24MB)

Simply, our main points to aid improved coverage are to: 

  1. Show that physics is for everyone 
  2. Show that physics is not the domain of the lone genius 
  3. Show that physics requires, and provides, a multitude of skills 
  4. Show that physics is accessible to all 
  5. Show the variety of physicists in a variety of settings in imagery 

Download the checklist

Media guide checklist

With our checklist you can ensure your reporting of physics and physicists is as accurate and accessible as possible.

Download the checklist (PDF, 2.27MB)

To request a hard copy of the guide and checklist or to give feedback, email [email protected]. You can also share the checklist on social media, adding @PhysicsNews

“The prevalent attitude to physicists was negative, based on preconceptions of fictional stereotypes of eccentric ‘boffins whose work was unrelated to the everyday world.” – IOP member

Bin the Boffin 

As part of our work to make the reporting of physics and physicists more accurate and accessible, we have launched Bin the Boffin. This is calling on the Daily Star and The Sun to stop using the term boffin in their reporting and adopt our media guidelines. 

This webpage has been updated to remove the Daily Mirror as a target of the Bin the Boffin initiative, following confirmation from the publication’s editor, Alison Phillips, that she will remind her journalists to not use the term.

Find out more about the Bin the Boffin initiative and how you can support it