What Scientists Want Out Of Online Engagement

Posted 10 March 2016 by Matt Shipman

A recent article published in PLOS ONE looked at what scientists hope to achieve when engaging with the public online – via websites, blogs or social networks. The findings are interesting. Among other things, the study reports that scientists give the lowest priority to the communication objectives that may be most useful for actually engaging effectively with the public. The article, “Scientists’ Prioritization of Communication Objectives for Public Engagement,” was published Feb. 25. The paper was co-authored by Anthony Dudo... Read more

Science and Community Engagement: an Interview with Lou Woodley

Posted 12 November 2015 by Matt Shipman

On Nov. 3, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced a new fellowship program focused on community engagement in the science community. This makes me curious. The new venture, called the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows program, was launched with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The goal, according to a AAAS news release, is to “professionalize and institutionalize the role of community engagement managers in the scientific community” and “provide training and professional development for up... Read more

Science Communication Needs and Best Practice: What Would a Top Ten List Look Like?

Posted 14 January 2015 by Matt Shipman

A new paper offers up a “top 10” list of science communication (scicomm) challenges and potential solutions – but also highlights the flaws in the list. I’m hoping it can be a starting point for a discussion that could help people address at least some of the scicomm problems they’re grappling with. Background Here’s the deal: science communication can be a tricky business. It can be defined in a wide variety of ways, and includes a host of different interests... Read more

Shirts, Science Communication, and Why Appearances Can Be Important

Posted 14 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

On Nov. 12, a robot launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) about ten years ago landed on a comet approximately 300 million miles away. Which is (literally) awesome. But this blog is about science communication, so I want to talk about a shirt. One of the ESA staffers prominently featured in coverage of the landing was Matt Taylor, who is head scientist on the project. Taylor is an intelligent guy, but he made the unfortunate decision to wear a... Read more

Incorporating Scicomm into the Science Classroom

Posted 27 March 2014 by Matt Shipman

Many people believe science communication (scicomm) is important. But one university professor decided to incorporate scicomm training into an advanced biochemistry course, with interesting results. Scicomm is important for securing research funding, boosting citations and encouraging future generations of scientists. But it’s also an important part of helping people find work. One study found that 90 percent of hiring managers felt “communication skills are essential for success” (Peterson, 1997). But, the study found, only 60 percent of job applicants had... Read more

Online Tools: The Waaaave of the Future

Posted 10 March 2014 by Matt Shipman

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Eleanor Spicer Rice, a freelance science writer and co-founder of the science communication company Verdant Word. She is also co-founder of the science/art blog BuzzHootRoar (she’s Roar) and the author of Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants and Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City. When my brother graduated from college, one of his commencement speakers, a distinguished professor, announced to us in a wizardly voice: “The Internet is... Read more

Seniority, Self-Confidence Predict Whether Scientists Will Work With Media

Posted 21 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

While some scientists are happy to talk to reporters, many want nothing to do with news media. I’ve met researchers who think that talking to journalists is beneath them, and others who are clearly terrified by the very idea. What’s going on here? What makes some scientists agree to discuss their work with the non-expert public? Earlier this month I ran across a study that sheds some light on the subject. I recently wrote about a 2013 study showing that... Read more

A Practical Step to Bridge the Divide Between Scientists and Journalists

Posted 28 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Frank Swain, a freelance science writer who has written for Wired, the Guardian and New Scientist, among other outlets. He also runs the SciencePunk blog. Since October 2011, Swain has also served as national coordinator (in the UK) for the BenchPress Project – which was established to provide reporters with training in science and statistics. I asked him to write this post, in part, because I think the BenchPress Project is very... Read more

Preparing For an Interview, Part Three: Researchers (for TV and Radio)

Posted 17 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

To many researchers, the only thing more terrifying than doing a taped TV interview is doing a live TV interview. Going on live radio is only a little less scary. But if you are prepared, and don’t panic, TV and radio interviews can be very effective science communication tools. First of all, here are some numbers to explain why TV is so important. In March 2013, the Wall Street Journal had the largest circulation of any U.S.-based daily newspaper, with... Read more

Preparing For an Interview, Part Two: Researchers (for Print and Online Media)

Posted 14 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

Scientists are often nervous about being interviewed by reporters. This is often because they are worried that reporters will misrepresent their work or make them look foolish. Human ingenuity is boundless, so there is no foolproof way to ensure that reporters will get everything right. However, there are things that scientists can do to help ensure that they communicate their work effectively, and significantly improve the odds that their work is presented accurately. (Note: interviewing scientists is no picnic for... Read more