News Release

EurekAlert! 2014 most popular news releases revealed

Wage disclosure, health science and new species got the most clicks

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Green Spaces Deliver Lasting Mental Health Benefits

video: In this video from the seventh most-visited release, Dr. Ian Alcock describes his research on how green spaces in towns and cities create immediate and long lasting improvements in people's well-being. view more 

Credit: Alexander Smalley

A news release about the unintended consequences of disclosing public officials’ wages drew nearly 180,000 visits to EurekAlert! in 2014, making it the most popular news release of the year.

Health science dominated the topics described in the 10 most-viewed news releases, with six releases covering research on the brain, sleep, intoxication, HIV and the impact of the environment on health.

News releases about identifying new species using genome sequencing technology took two spots, while an analysis of U.S. arrest rates rounded out this year’s 10 most popular releases, which received a total of more than 1.2 million views.

The annual list was compiled based on the number of public and reporter views of news releases received between 1 January and 5 December, 2014. EurekAlert! is a science-news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the nonprofit scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals.

More than 25,672 news releases were eligible for inclusion on EurekAlert! in 2014. All news releases were submitted by accredited research institutions and peer-reviewed journals worldwide, and made available to registered science reporters and the public.

The 10 most-visited EurekAlert! news releases of 2014 were:

  1. Wage disclosures for public officials lead to salary cuts, high turnover rates (179,434)
    Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research
  2. New research sheds light on how the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone (177,830)
    University of Bristol; Nature Communications
  3. Virginia Tech scientist proposes revolutionary naming system for all life on Earth (168,019)
    Virginia Tech; PLOS ONE
  4. Study finds later school start times improve sleep and daytime functioning in adolescents (159,777)
    Lifespan; Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics
  5. Fukushima's legacy (131,928)
    American Genetic Association; Journal of Heredity
  6. Mutation stops worms from getting drunk (105,515)
    University of Texas at Austin; The Journal of Neuroscience
  7. Green spaces deliver lasting mental health benefits (81,972)
    University of Exeter; Environmental Science & Technology
  8. New frog discovered inhabiting I-95 corridor from Connecticut to North Carolina (78,134)
    Rutgers University; PLOS ONE
  9. Study of antibody evolution charts course toward HIV vaccine (74,765)
    NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Nature
  10. Study: Half of black males, 40 percent of white males arrested by age 23 (66,971)
    University of South Carolina; Crime & Delinquency

Five Most-Shared Releases

The five most-shared news releases were circulated more than 36,000 times via EurekAlert! in 2014 through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, and e-mail, as recorded by AddThis. Three of the most-shared releases were also among the most-viewed overall. The most-shared releases were:

  1. Study finds later school start times improve sleep and daytime functioning in adolescents (151)
    Lifespan; Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics
  2. New research sheds light on how the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone (115)
    Bristol University; Nature Communications
  3. Why dark chocolate is good for your heart (104)
    Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; FASEB Journal
  4. Study: Half of black males, 40 percent of white males arrested by age 23 (84)
    University of South Carolina; Crime & Delinquency
  5. No link found between movie, video game violence and societal violence (75)
    International Communication Association; Journal of Communication

EurekAlert! has more than 18.5K followers on Twitter via @EurekAlertAAAS and just reached 10K fans on Facebook.


Three major themes emerged from this year’s 10 most popular news releases:

Transparency and criminal justice (1st, 10th)

2014’s No. 1 release illustrated the pitfalls of transparency : wages of California’s city managers were cut by eight percent on average after the information went public, and there was a 75 percent increase in the quit rate among city managers. The research team cautioned that cutting wages due to public opinion may not be a good policy, especially if the employees feel that their hard work warrants the original wage.

Discrimination in arrest and incarceration rates in the United States has attracted growing attention over the past year following several high-profile court cases. The 10th most-visited release broke down arrest rates by age, gender, and race in the country between 1997 and 2008. While the arrest rates remained comparable among all races over time for women, the gap in arrest rates among black, Hispanic and white males was wider and increased during the study.

Health and the environment (2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th)

The second most-trafficked release identified lactate as a double-duty chemical compound. Lactate is known for providing energy for long periods of exercise after oxygen depletion, and researchers recently found that it also acts as a signal between brain cells, causing them to release more norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the “fight or flight” response. The discovery may lead to new medications.

The fourth most-visited release described a study showing that a 25-minute delay in school start times alleviated the ill-effects of sleep deprivation in high school students. The later start time resulted in an increase in the number of students who slept eight hours or more. On average, students were also happier and better prepared to learn.

A release about the ongoing biological effects of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown in 2011 took the No. 5 spot. It covered a set of research papers on the genetic effects of radiation on non-human animals exposed to radiation on site. The studies concluded that low-dose exposure to radiation at the power plant caused increased rates of genetic mutation and damage.

The sixth most-visited release showed that worms are good models for drunkenness. In this study, purported to be a first-of-its-kind, a neural molecule that binds alcohol in the human brain was modified and inserted into worms. Other than an inability to become intoxicated, no other physiological effects were reported in the mutant worms. The researchers hoped this work could be used to help treat alcohol abuse.

The seventh most widely read news release on EurekAlert! in 2014 reported lasting mental-health effects for people living in greener areas. Surprisingly, the benefits accrued over a five-year period continued for years after ¬– even if the study subjects moved away. The results reinforced the importance of using urban planning for public access green spaces, which could provide public health benefits such as combatting depression.

The ninth most-visited story focused on HIV vaccine research. This National Institutes of Health study analyzed blood samples from an HIV-positive volunteer who developed a natural protection against the virus – an antibody that blocks a particular site on the HIV virus. The researchers predicted that an HIV vaccine will need to include this antibody, and work is now under way to develop such components.

Big data and biological classification (3rd, 8th)

The third most-trafficked news release proposed a classification and naming system based on genetic information now available thanks to new genome sequencing tools and the enormous amounts of data deriving from them. This would allow researchers to readily name newly found organisms, or to see how closely related an organism is to a known relative.

The eighth most-visited release described how an unidentified frog species had been hiding in plain sight in New York along I-95, a major interstate highway. Commonly called the “Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog,” the species’ Latin namesake was ecologist Carl Kauffeld, who first claimed that this frog was a separate species back in the 1930’s. It took genetic and bioacoustic analyses – and about 80 years – to confirm that claim.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 254 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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