How Not to Write a Press Release

EurekAlert had a press release yesterday titled Quantum paradox directly observed — a milestone in quantum mechanics, which sounds like it ought to be great. The actual release, though….

For one thing, the description of the actual experiment is so vague as to be completely useless. It’s not easy to quote without copying the whole thing, but it’s short, so go read it yourself. Do you have any idea what’s going on?

Second, it doesn’t provide a complete citation for the article– it gives the title, authors, and journal, but not the relevant page and volume information, which you need in order to find the right article. Yeah, it’s on the front page right now, but somebody coming across this a week from now will have a harder time finding the paper.

That might not seem like a big deal, but in this specific case, it’s unforgivable, because the journal in question is the New Journal of Physics, which is open-access. You can view the full text of the article yourself, without a subscription.

What’s especially stupid about this is that the press release was put out by the Institute of Physics, who are the people who publish the journal. There’s just no excuse for not providing a link in the press materials.

The paper itself looks interesting, though its explanation of what’s going on assumes a little too much knowledge of Hardy’s Paradox. The press release, on the other hand, is most useful as an example of what not to do.