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Sep 30, 2020 Practice Insight
Complexity, transparency and time pressure: practical insights into science communication in times of crisis

by Jana Lasser, Verena Ahne, Georg Heiler, Peter Klimek, Hannah Metzler, Tobias Reisch, Martin Sprenger, Stefan Thurner and Johannes Sorger

A global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic that started in early 2020 poses significant challenges for how research is conducted and communicated. We present four case studies from the perspective of an interdisciplinary research institution that switched to “corona-mode” during the first two months of the crisis, focussing all its capacities on COVID-19-related issues, communicating to the public directly and via media, as well as actively advising the national government. The case studies highlight the challenges posed by the increased time pressure, high demand for transparency, and communication of complexity and uncertainty. The article gives insights into how these challenges were addressed in our research institution and how science communication in general can be managed during a crisis.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020