Expert Commentary

‘Fake news’ and school uniforms: Our most popular research roundups in 2018

The 10 research roundups our readers visited most often in 2018 focus on topics ranging from fake news and school uniforms to the Supreme Court and Olympic games.

Children wearing school uniforms
(U.S. Army/Sgt. Zach Mott )

As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve been looking back at our most popular posts — an important indicator of what policy topics are most important to you. It’s not surprising that our research roundups on mis- and disinformation and police use of force drew tens of thousands of readers. Journalists covered these issues extensively this year. But it was neat to see that you were also very interested in subjects that played far less prominently in the news — for example, public school uniforms, closed-circuit TV and the Olympics.

Below, we spotlight the 10 research roundups our readers visited most often in 2018, a group of posts we are continually updating. As you review this list, please think about the subjects you would like us to cover in 2019. We’d love to hear your ideas. You can send us a message on Facebook or Twitter or via e-mail at We’re looking forward to working with you in 2019.


  1. “Fake News and the Spread of Misinformation”

While journalists have written a lot about mis- and disinformation, scholars are still trying to understand it — how it spreads online, for example, and why some people seek it out. This collection of academic studies examines various types of so-called “fake news” — from fabricated stories posing as serious journalism to conspiracy theories, satire and inaccurate facts — and their impacts. For more research on this issue, see our related roundup, “What Research Says About How Bad Information Spreads Online.”

  1. “School Uniforms: Do They Really Improve Student Achievement, Behavior?”

As local school boards focus on improving standardized test scores and campus safety, many have started requiring students to wear uniforms. Some schools have toyed with the idea for years. But do uniforms really result in the kinds of improvements school officials claim? Research offers mixed results.

  1. “Excessive or Reasonable Force by Police? Research on Law Enforcement and Racial Conflict”

This research review focuses on law enforcement agencies’ use of force, including firearms and Tasers. We offer an overview of the issue amid a national outcry over the recent deaths of young black men at the hands of police. We also point out problems in data collection and highlight research on racial profiling, policing in high-crime neighborhoods and the use of body cameras.

  1. “The Effect of CCTV on Public Safety: Research Roundup”

Businesses and governments worldwide install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to cut crime and improve public safety. This research roundup looks at their effects on crime as well as potential unintended consequences. For example, two studies suggests cameras may push some crime to other locations.

  1. “The Good and the Bad of Plastic Bag Bans: Research Review”

In recent years, local governments have banned lightweight plastic shopping bags to reduce waste and pollution. Here, we’ve pulled together research and resources to help journalists understand the pros and cons of the trend.

  1. “Negative Political Ads and Their Effect on Voters: Updated Collection of Research”

Every election season, voters are bombarded with political ads, some of which are intensely negative. What do voters think of these ads and how do they react to them? This collection of research looks at negative campaign advertising from multiple angles.

  1. “Uber, Airbnb and Consequences of the Sharing Economy: Research Roundup”

Uber, Airbnb and other companies that are part of the so-called “sharing economy” — a system that allows private citizens to share or trade goods and services via an online platform — are changing the way we travel, work, shop, borrow money and do lots of other every-day activities. This compilation of academic studies examines who participates in the sharing economy, who benefits and the impact on the overall economy.

  1. “Olympics and Their Economic Impact: Updated Research Roundup”

The Olympic Games are big business and host cities spend a lot of money preparing for these international mega-events. Are they worth the investment? We’ve gathered research that looks at economic gains as well as how the Olympics affect local communities in areas such as housing costs, the labor market and city branding.

  1. “The Supreme Court, Public Opinion and Decision-Making: Research Roundup”

In this roundup of research, we spotlight a range of studies that offer insights into the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision-making processes and ideological foundations as well as how the country’s highest court influences public opinion.

  1. “Minimum Wage: Updated Research Roundup on the Effects of Increasing Pay”

Debates over raising the minimum wage typically center on the need to improve pay so working-class families can earn a living wage. Here, we offer historical context and spotlight published research to help journalists understand the short- and long-term impacts of raising the minimum wage.


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