The Story of Science Communication

This is the story of why we should all care and be careful about science communication. A visual summary of my latest talk, including ivory towers, sleeping beauties and digital wildfires:

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To understand science communication, we have to understand the core of science – our methods: the whole mechanistics of our striving to question, evaluate and create new knowledge.

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Science is a process and as such, science communication should entail an understanding of all of our methods and not merely represent single results (Bultitude (2011) Science Communication – Why and How? Burns et al., (2003). Science communication: A contemporary definition).

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Science publications are 1 form of science communication with clear, rigid, (ideally) replicable structure. They can be read at several levels & allow comparability. However, they are almost exclusively read by scientists. Other options: traditional media, outreach, social media…

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…but really, there are no boundaries for creativity & options for engagement if you want to provide towards science communication: E.g., Frontiers for Young Minds, Skype a Scientist, TED talks, Cartoon (ERcComics), Comedy, Songs, TV, Dance your PhD, etc.

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Why should you care about science communication? There are plentiful utilitarian, economic, cultural and democratic arguments for all of us. But also, personal gains – especially important for younger scientists too (contents adapted from Bultitude 2010 and Osborne (2000)).

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Different personal risks have been named, and incentives are lacking. But is this really an excuse for not engaging in science communication and outreach…?

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…is this reason for us to continue barricading ourselves in ivory towers and do we need/afford to create more sleeping beauties?

Shapin (2012). The Ivory Tower: the history of a figure of speech and its cultural uses.)

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Excursus: why we struggle to separate fake from fiction. Potential reasons: mass of info & limited attention span. With all new media formats info flow is no “gentle snowflakes falling”, but rather a “pillow-in-your-face” kinda situation. Read also: Qiu et al., (2017).
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Missing/inaccurate science communication may lead to misrepresentation of scientific facts, methods and our profession. Working together with popular media is key – popular media drive popular believes & digital wildfires are a global risk.
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But are we ready? E.g., real-world neuroscience: framing matters & display of norms shape expectation, behaviour and biology! (Altikulaç et al., (2018). The teenage brain… [11] Qu et al., (2018). Youth’s conceptions of adolescence predict longitudinal changes in PFC…)
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Science is present in everyday life. We should all care & be careful about science communication in order to reach a science-informed community & research that impacts policies. PIs: value time students invest in scicomm, be a role model, support & do share & show.

…let’s ensure we get a “happily ever after”.
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