The BBC Trust is to conduct a review to assess the accuracy and impartiality of science coverage in all BBC News and factual programming across the web, TV and radio.
The Trust said today the review, which will start in the Spring, would consider aspects of technology, medicine and the environment that entail scientific involvement in addition to BBC coverage of the natural sciences.
The corporation has previously conducted impartiality reviews of its business coverage – in the wake of the collapse of Northern Rock – and its coverage of the devolved nations.
BBC management has indicated that science coverage would be significantly ramped-up this year across all its platforms.
Richard Tait, BBC Trustee and chair of the Trust’s editorial standards committee, said heated debate around climate change, GM crops and the MMR vaccine reflected the importance the public placed on scientific issues.
He said: “The BBC has a well-earned reputation for the quality of its science reporting, but it is also important that we look at it afresh to ensure that it is adhering to the very high standards that licence fee payers expect.”
The Trust said it was a “key priority” for it to make sure the BBC covers potentially controversial subjects with “due impartiality”.
It said: “The review will assess news and factual output that refers to scientific findings, particularly science output relating to current public policy and matters of political controversy.”