Some complex scientific topics are hard to get your head around, particularly those that provoke strong emotional responses among the public. To help you understand some of the more contentious scientific issues that appear in the media, we’ve put together some handy at-a-glance guides.

These backgrounders are intended to give a quick and easy explanation of an issue and a glossary of terms used in news stories. We hope they will be useful to busy news desks, especially those that lack ready access to a specialist science correspondent. Feel free to suggest other topics.

To view and download the current list of tricky topic backgrounders go to or click here.

If you’re still not sure where to get the answers you’re looking for, or you need to talk to an Australian scientist, contact the AusSMC on 08 7120 8666 or email us.