The Academic Paper That Broke the Volkswagen Scandal

This article described the beginning of the Volkswagen scandal as well as the aftermath for both Volkswagen and its consumers. It leads the reader through the timeline of the story with a discussion of the current events surrounding the scandal, and then a brief description of the research lab that made the discovery.

The title of the article reads “The Academic Paper That Broke the Volkswagen Scandal”, however, few details about the testing process of the cars or the research that went into the paper are given. Do you feel that that this is a misleading or clickbaity title? Or that enough information is given about the academic paper to justify the title? Is the article’s angle of describing the paper effective in providing a new and innovative look at this story? I personally feel that the article did not illuminate any interesting details about the paper, with the exception of the statistic about the discrepancy in expected illumination levels, which could have been included otherwise.

How do you feel about the inclusion of several links throughout this story? Do you think that readers will take the time to browse through any of them? Can it be worth it for the writer to go ahead and summarize some of these articles in her review of the scandal? I thought that readers would appreciate a recap of how the illegal devices that showed the emissions to be deceptively low functioned. The links also, in my opinion, served to make the article seem more like a review of the situation than anything else.

Lastly, the articles we read this week vastly differed in how much they discussed technology. The articles about the EPA included several details about how their machines worked, whereas articles like this one and the one about few electric vehicles on the roads did not delve into the technological reasons behind the observed results. Do you feel that a breakdown of the technology involved serves to make these articles more or less interesting to readers? How can technology be included in a way that doesn’t bog down the article?

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3 Responses to “The Academic Paper That Broke the Volkswagen Scandal”

  1. I actually really liked the title of this piece. I don’t think it was intended to be a scientific article about what exactly was wrong with the Volkswagen cars; instead, I viewed it as a piece about how a small team of researchers stumbled upon a huge scandal. It seemed to be more about the discovery of the scandal rather than the scandal itself. Because of this, I think that the article did shed an interesting and new light on the story. The way that Volkswagen cheated and the ramifications of what they did has been covered many times now. How they were eventually caught is something that I had never read about before, and I found it very interesting.

    What I did not like about this article was all the links that were included. If I had a lot of time to invest in it, maybe I would have clicked through everything. When I was early on in reading the piece I tried to click on a few of the links, but then I found myself getting distracted from the rest of the story. It didn’t seem to flow logically with the rest of the story. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to read the whole story and then go back and click on the links. It was nice that so much extra information was included that could be explored further if you were truly interested, but for me it was just distracting.

    • I agree with Emily that this was an fascinating piece. It goes to show what impact research at universities — such as ours — can have on outside world. Another example of a bombshell study came from Purdue a few years ago titled “Football findings suggest concussions caused by series of hits.” There have been major changes in football practices at all levels, including the NCAA and the NFL, since the study was released.

      As for the links, while I did not take the time to click on and dissect all of them (I’d likely be at it all night), I still think it is useful to have them. It allows the reader, if he or she so chooses, to find out where the assertions made in the article came from and draw conclusions. It shows that the writer did research and gives credit where credit is due. The large number of links may seem like a bit much, but ultimately it is up to the reader to decide whether or not to click on them.

  2. The title, “The Academic Paper That Broke the Volkswagen Scandal”, suggested to me that the article would delve further into the details of the paper and timeline between the grant, its publication, and the recent unraveling of Volkswagen. Instead, the coverage of the paper felt Vox-like; it seemed to be a summary of other media coverage. Without giving a full understanding of the paper and its processes, the article risks being misleading; rarely, in academic, would we accept the conclusions of a paper without understanding its methods. Referencing an academic study gives more weight to the accusations against Volkswagen,but failing to adequately explain the science behind the paper is evasive.

    The multiplicity of links in the article contributed to this impression. Each link felt akin to a footnote, telling the reader that, if they were so inclined, they could learn more. In this way, the article felt unfulfilling. I want media sources to deliver unique perspectives on issues, not merely collate other articles. While there is definitely an appetite for the short summarizing of the news, as evidenced by the over $300 million in venture capital that Vox has raised, I fear that news organizations will be tempted to stop producing the news and leave the real investigation to non-profits, fringe organizations, and publicly-funded groups.

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