The *in mice bot

*In-mice is a reddit bot that tracks posts in the popular r/science community. When it finds a headline that tries to frame mouse model research breakthroughs as human medical science, it adds the comment ‘…*in mice’ to the post.

For example: The headline ‘Nasal Vaccine may Aid Fight Against New Viral Variants’ may lead readers to believe that this vaccine has been tested in humans and will soon be available to the public. In reality, the research paper is about a set of mouse experiments, and it could be years before this translates to a human vaccine. A more responsible headline would be ‘Nasal Vaccine Generates Robust Antiviral Immune Response in Mouse Experiments’.

Why do we need this?

Molecular, biochemical and occasionally even behavioral research in 🐁 models can be very fruitful. But it’s important to note that many results seen in animal models will take years before they are translated to the clinic. Many don’t make it.

When scientists publish their research, most journals insist that the species used to perform research be included in the title. This helps put the research in context. But when a research paper is converted into a headline for a ‘science article’, a lot of nuance is left out, to make the reader more likely to click through to the text. Since most don’t read past the headline, especially on Reddit, it’s easy to take away the wrong message. For those who do click through, it’s frustrating to have to scroll through the whole article, only to realize that the research is less significant than they expected. Hence the 🤖.

Responsible editors will write a headline like this one:‘Japanese scientists create vaccine for aging to eliminate aged cells, reversing artery stiffening, frailty, and diabetes in normal and accelerated aging mice’. It’s not very attractive, but it’s accurate, and doesn’t waste the readers’ time. In-mice bot approves of these headlines.

How was the bot made?

Using PRAW, the Pubmed APIs, and some basic NLP.

Also check out

The DOI check tool. Also built for users of r/science, the tools find the original digital object identifier from Reddit posts, journal articles or science news stories.


I’m always looking to improve the bot, and for new platforms to point out misleading science headlines. To contribute, collaborate, or suggest new places to deploy, DM the bot or its human friend on Reddit. To give feedback on a specific comment or point out a wrong call, reply to the comment with 'bad bot!'.

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