Frequently Asked Questions
Who are you?
My brief bio is on the About page, but the short answer is that I’m a freelance science journalist and mother of two living in the Midwest. You can learn more about me at my website www.tarahaelle.net, where I have a lengthier bio, or with good old-fashioned Googling.
What are your qualifications?
I hold a Master’s in journalism and have taken a variety of courses to help me understand how to read, understand, interpret, analyze and assess scientific studies. These include university epidemiology courses, online MOOC classes, a specialized Medicine in the Media course sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and various professional development opportunities through the National Association of Science Writers, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. I have a wide network of colleagues and sources in the sciences and frequently consult scientists and researchers directly on their studies and/or on studies that I need help understanding.
NOTE: I am not a medical or healthcare professional, and I do not dispense medical advice. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice. I will not make health or medical recommendations, and I will not respond to requests for them. Any personal questions or concerns you have about a medical or health condition or issue should be directed to your healthcare provider. I assess and evaluate the evidence in research and communicate it, and I occasionally share my own personal choices; neither of these should be taken as an endorsement that readers should do as I have done.
Do you accept guest blog posts or outside contributions?
I periodically run guest posts, but they are typically from scientists, doctors or individuals I know and have specifically invited. Guest posts must be evidence-based, which includes linking to relevant peer-reviewed studies or articles based on peer-reviewed research. If posts are written by someone with a company or practice, that connection must be disclosed at the beginning of the post. (I accept and publish these posts solely on the merits of the post and information itself. I do not accept and publish guest posts in order to promote or endorse an institution or company.) Guest posts may not include links to products, organizations, companies, etc. except in the bio where a person’s affiliation is clearly identified. I do not receive payments for any of my posts.
It is very, very, VERY rare for me to accept unsolicited blog posts. I do not respond to blog post solicitations from companies, content farms or individuals who are required to include specific links in their posts. I do not respond to general inquiries about writing for the site (except to link this page) If you are interested in my running a guest post you have written, study my site very carefully and make sure what you’ve written has not been covered already and fits with the types of posts I run. All posts must be evidence-based, with links to peer-reviewed research, and relevant to parenting issues. I do not pay for posts.
What are your conflicts of interest and disclosures?
I do not receive payments for any of my specific posts from any entity. This blog receives advertising funding (a small pittance) from Google AdSense and from the BlogHer network, and from no other sources. For the BlogHer network ads, I have opted to refuse advertising related to the following: fast food, alcohol, processed food, diet industry, cosmetic surgery, pharmaceutical companies, infant formula and related companies, artificial nipples, baby bottles and political ads (for any political party). It is not that I agree or disagree with any of the products in these industries, but since I write about many of them (except politics, which I think is just best left off this blog), I do not want an appearance of a conflict of interest since I have no control over what ads might otherwise show up. I was not given the option to refuse selected advertising for Google AdSense and have no control over (or knowledge of) what the algorithm will show you. [UPDATED NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that ads for a fast food restaurant and at least one beverage company’s political campaign have appeared on this blog. I have to assume that these were in the AdSense slots since I’ve opted out of these types of ads in the BlogHer slots. I am looking into whether I can limit the industry types that AdSense accepts ads from. If you notice an ad from one of the company types listed here that I try not to have on the blog, please take a screenshot and email it to me so that I can look into it.]
I do not have any personal or financial connections to pharmaceutical companies, the medical industry or any parenting industry companies or products that I am aware of. I hold an IRA and a 403b account; I have no knowledge of and exert no control over which companies those accounts invest in.
I do not accept free samples to write about. If I ever write about a friend’s business or product, I will disclose the relationship at the top of the blog post.
My mother is a retired registered nurse, and I worked as a hospital volunteer in high school. Both of my children are/were fully vaccinated on time, with the exception of my first son’s first hepatitis B shot, which he got at his 2-month check-up. I do not reveal or discuss my sons’ circumcision status. My children have been both breastfed and formula fed.
I am associated with the group Parents Against Gun Violence.
I have attended and/or taught at the following universities: University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Women’s University and Bradley University. I held a News21 Carnegie Knight fellowship during one summer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. I received a scholarship from the Coca Cola Scholars Program in 1996 that went toward my undergraduate education.