Top research coverage of 2023

Whisky being poured into a glass with ice on a wooden table. Two other glasses are in the background.
Photo by igorr1 on iStock

Whisky, contraception, cannabis: many of the Washington State University studies that garnered the most attention from news media in 2023 seemed to involve human pleasures—and their consequences. That focus may say something about the global mood in the first post-pandemic year, but it also speaks to the real-world impact of WSU’s research enterprise.

Three initiatives led by College of Arts & Sciences faculty were among the 10 leading stories from 2023 with the highest potential reach numbers, and another 22 news stories were in top

  • Faster postal service linked to better voter turnout
    851.84 MILLION KBOI/KLEWOPBStudy FindsYahoo News
    All the false claims in 2020 about mail-in voter fraud in the U.S. likely spurred interest in this connection between the post office speed and voter turnout found by WSU political scientist Michael Ritter. The story hit many U.S. online, print and broadcast outlets. Yahoo News carried the story multiple times, reprinting stories across its worldwide outlets including in Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, and the U.K.
  • Urban light pollution linked to smaller eyes in birds
    427.72 million BBCEarth.comForbesScribdYahoo News
    The unexpected insight that human activities may be changing the very eyes of common birds gave this story wings. This study, led by WSU wildlife ecologist Jennifer Phillips, also has implications for migrating birds whose eyes are not evolving to city lights as well as the more familiar painted buntings and northern cardinals often seen at backyard bird feeders across the country.

These trends emerged from an analysis of the 79 scientific research press releases from 2023. WSU News staff used Meltwater media tracking software to calculate each story’s “potential reach.” This figure, which combines estimated audience of all media outlets where the story appeared, provides a rough estimate of how many times a story could have been seen rather than the number of actual people who saw it.

Read the full list of the 10 most-read stories.

Following are the additional 22 CAS research releases from last year ranked in order of total potential reach.

By Sara Zaske, WSU Insider