Communicating Science Beyond Academic Field: Reaching Out to the Masses

communicating science Science and the ways it achieves financing is evolving by leaps. A lab, which works on Delphic research and publishes its results in Delphic scientific magazines will find financing, attract new qualified students and cooperate with other labs. Today it is much more challenging to get an essential support from the university than ever before.

Finding a Proper Strategy

Usually funding agencies and government need to know everything about the applied research, that’s why communicating science further than fellow academics is a required skill and an important activity. At the same time, this activity takes much competence and energy, so it could be a real challenge for a young scientist to allocate his or her resources and time efficiently. However, a strong strategy can help to accept this challenge.

The most effective way of thinking about the data, implementation and science communication which is created by a laboratory is a tree-shaped process.

The Roots and the Trunk

The foundation for communication are the roots and trunk of the tree. The roots consist of the theory development and data, so the ideas originate from here. The trunk includes refereed scientific articles and from here the science communication starts spreading. Without this base the communications could become fictional, aspirational, speculative, so it would not be attached to any scientific thought.

The Leaves and Branches

The branches and leaves of the tree extend the communication to scientists in your field, to related scientists, to thinkers and professionals in other fields, to implementing scientists, to policy makers, to the non-professional public.

How it Works

The traditional scientific lab consists of the trunk only. It can be a strong and serious basis, however, the information about its results may not flow outside the narrow circle of devoted colleagues.

Popular science communicators, talk show hosts, other speakers can get a broad popular reach. But such communication consists of the leaves and branches, like a vine or shrub. This means a wide reach with a dim anchor in science. There are many students and scientists who are communicating science this way and are viewed as dilettantes.

For a new scientist or a graduate student such framework gives a possibility of strategical use of energy and time to make a proper basis of knowledge and spread his or her ideas to the most appropriate audiences.

Set Up Your Goal

One should also always keep in mind, that using a framework is just an instrument. Every young scientist or graduate student has to always concentrate on his or her communication goal. For example, for a psychologist the goal might include getting the respect by research colleagues and having an opportunity to effect the clinical practice in psychology and education.

There is always a golden mean to take up between being a bearded professor, who writes papers collecting dust and is read only by other bearded professors who write papers, and being a veneer-smiled media personality and rockstar consultant. One can choose any type of tree: a narrow and tall pine or a short and wide oak tree. But one should always keep in mind, that the tree framework can be useful as long as you remember your goals.