Professionalism, professional development and training in science communication

22/08/2018

The first Japan Scicom Forum in Tokyo on April 20, 2018 gathered nearly 120 attendees to discuss the growing need and demand for English-language science communication in Japan and Asia. Keynotes and workshops addressed both the philosophy and motivations for scicomm in Japan and also the best practices for international outreach. Global science communication has reached a critical mass in Japan but securing sustainable funding, integrating the community and retaining momentum present ongoing challenges. As an online community and (hopefully) a recurring event, Japan Scicom Forum will foster a network of science communicators, professionalize and legitimize the field and boost English-language science communication in a country where it is still nascent.

11/06/2018

We present an assessment of the Engage program, a graduate-student-created and led training program at the University of Washington. Using a pre-course/post-course study design, we examined student ability to deliver a short presentation appropriate for a public audience. Based on both self-assessments and assessments by external reviewers, we show that Engage trainees had an increase in their ability to employ effective communication techniques.

27/02/2018

The 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (San Francisco, U.S.A., 26–30 October 2017) was the most successful to date in terms of participants and probably the one with the largest presence of journalists from the developing world among its attendees and speakers. In agreement with the times, its themes were marked by ethical dilemmas in the communication of science, fake news and climate change, among others.

28/11/2017

This article aims to present a critical analysis of the book entitled “Creative Research Communication ― Theory and Practice”, written by Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp (Manchester University Press, 2016). We aim to present the structure of the book, highlighting its strengths and successes. Although some chapters focus on the UK, the book offers a wide range of examples of practical activities for the communication of research of global interest and provides very useful tips. Ethical issues and the importance of evaluation, of how to do carry out such evaluation and dissemination, are also presented in an inspiring way. Well-written and objective, the book is a must-read for anyone who works, or aspires to work, in the field of public engagement with research.

20/09/2017

What is it that really makes communicating science a good, moral thing to do? And are there limits to the potential ‘goodness’ of science communication? In this article, we argue it is time we consider what an ethics of science communication might look like. Not only will this help us figure out what doing the right, moral thing might be. It also invites us to think through one of the most perplexing, challenging and pressing question for this still emerging field: what are the core unifying features of science communication?

28/03/2017

This article provides a starting position and scene-setter for an invited commentary series on science communication and public intellectualism. It begins by briefly considering what intellectualism and public intellectualism are, before discussing their relationship with science communication, especially in academia. It ends with a call to science communication academics and practitioners to either become more active in challenging the status quo, or to help support those who wish to by engendering a professional environment that encourages risk-taking and speaking-out in public about critical social issues.

16/12/2016

This issue sees the publication of several papers that contribute to our understanding of the challenges faced by researchers in communicating about their research, adding richness to our understanding of practices and policies in Zimbabwe as well as amongst non-Anglophone speakers working in Australia. The potential of incorporating documentary filmmaking tools and techniques into open science projects raises interesting questions about subjectivity, data and the collaboration skills needed for today's scientists.

17/11/2016

Scientists for whom English is not their first language report disadvantages with academic communication internationally. This case study explores preliminary evidence from non-Anglophone scientists in an Australian research organisation, where English is the first language. While the authors identified similarities with previous research, they found that scientists from non-Anglophone language backgrounds are limited by more than their level of linguistic proficiency in English. Academic science communication may be underpinned by perceptions of identity that are defined by the Anglocentric hegemony in science, which dictates not only how academic science is communicated but also who can communicate it.

06/07/2016

In considering the ethos of science, Robert Merton [1973] posited that openness and secrecy reflect opposing values in the accomplishment of science. According to Merton, scientific inquiry required that all interested parties have access to and freely share scientific information. In our current epoch, this importance of openness in science seems even more widely accepted. It is a given nowadays that scientists are expected to work as part of a team, not only within their own department, but also with other departments different disciplines. To work interdisciplinary scientists must become more communicative and critically talk about difference, which asks maximum transparency and open communication of the participants. However, against the adage that openness and participation in science is an inherent good, one easily forgets that the actual practice of collaborating may also require things are not said. Navigating everyday interactional challenges may depend on postponing issues to keep the process going, for instance because scientists still have to figure out what they find important in the collaboration with others. But also issues like, withholding sensitive problems or not critiquing each other's options viewpoints, leaving points shrewdly of the agenda, and excluding relevant actors from the meeting table. Despite the idea of open innovation, shared visions, beliefs and knowledge we must focus on silence for the good and the bad as well.

22/06/2016

This commentary seeks to spark further discussion on the continuing professional development in science communication, presenting comments from practitioners who were asked to reflect on the competences and skills their profession requires, and to envisage what kind of training might provide them. This introduction presents some common issues that emerge within the comments: the necessity to face rapidly evolving professional landscapes, to answer to new missions and roles, to consider the growing impact and potential of new technologies. Alternative training methods are also discussed.

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