science communication

Since our founding more than 30 years ago, a key strategy tool in Research!America's advocacy for science and medical research has been influencing public opinion. As President Abraham Lincoln said, “…public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” Over our 28 years of commissioning surveys, Research!America has asked a wide variety of questions about the importance of scientists informing the public and elected officials about their research and its impacts. In January 2020, our survey asked: "How important is it for scientists to inform the public about their research and its impact on society?" In response, 9 in 10 Americans...
Dear Research Advocate, Our guest author this week is Robert Shalett, Research!America’s Director of Communications. Critical to Research!America’s mission is to encourage researchers to talk about their work. It is important for non-scientists to know how research and scientific discovery support all Americans in our daily lives, from professional settings to at home. Our survey data indicates that the public thinks it is important for scientists to discuss their research and its impact. But that is only part of it. Effective advocacy campaigns require focused, sustained effort. This is why your voice is needed right now. As my colleague Ellie mentioned last week, the hard-fought lifting...
I valued the opportunity earlier this week to join the team from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science as they delivered their high quality program at Mississippi State University. Mr. Alda gave a typically inspirational and amusing keynote and also kicked off the interactive sessions the next morning. The Alda Method© team-teaches communication skills, drawing on working actors’ improvisational abilities coupled with the expertise of educators and researchers who regularly contribute to the academic literature, including the Oxford Handbook of The Science of Science Communication . As more academic institutions consider adding a communication and public engagement component to...
Last year, I attended the Houston March for Science as a Ph.D. student at Baylor College of Medicine. I marched to stand with my community and fellow scientists to foster support for research and scientific funding. I watched as thousands marched toward city hall, nerdy signs in hand, to demonstrate how scientific research has improved our medical care and shaped our understanding of the world. It was a watershed moment for researchers, making it apparent that a public voice for the scientific community was needed. I remember distinctly on that day: our message was heard loud and clear. Since the march, there has been an influx of scientists getting involved in local elections, and advocacy...
Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHU SON) researchers are not only working on innovative research leading to effective interventions for youth and pregnant women in abusive relationships, they are also committed to strengthening their science communication skills. Students, faculty and staff participated in a science communications workshop on June 8, 2017 led by Research!America Vice President of Communications Suzanne Ffolkes and senior manager Anna Briseno. During the workshop, attendees had the opportunity to share information about their current research and practice communication techniques, such as crafting an elevator pitch. “In theory, I know what everyone’s research...
A new report has found that a one-size fits all approach is not the best strategy to engage and educate non-scientists. The National Academy of Sciences’ report, Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda was the subject of a public discussion hosted by the Academy on January 10 in Washington, D.C. Research!America board member and AAAS CEO emeritus Alan Leshner, Ph.D., moderated the discussion, which included representatives from academia, government and news organizations. He noted that science communication is “an acquired skill, not innate.” The report concludes that it is time to leave the “deficit model” of communication behind. This model suggests that people do not accept...
Dear Research Advocate: With Kavli, Janssen, Lasker, Heinz and Nobel announcements made at this time of year, we all have an opportunity to salute scientific accomplishments, and also focus more public attention on science. The Kavli prizes were awarded in Oslo last month and the Lasker awards a few weeks later. And this week, three Nobel prizes were announced . These include the Nobel for Physiology or Medicine, to Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.” Just two weeks ago today, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ohsumi when Janssen Pharmaceuticals awarded him the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research. A panel discussion following the award...
Scientists go through rigorous training to learn skills necessary to perform quality research. We learn to properly create an experiment, analyze the data, and prepare it to be presented. Those data are often presented to other researchers who possess a similar knowledge base and technical lexicon. Unfortunately, little time and effort is devoted to teaching budding scientists how to deliver scientific messages to other audiences: a population larger than those within the academy. I was fortunate to attend a two-day workshop hosted by Research!America and George Washington University titled “Connecting the Dots: Effectively Communicating Science to Non-Scientists” on April 13 and 14. I...
I had the opportunity to attend Connecting the Dots: Effectively Communicating Science to Non-Scientists, which was a two-day conference at George Washington University hosted by Research!America. The Connecting the Dots workshop happened to coincide with a scheduled trip to Washington D.C. where I would be visiting the National Institutes of Health. I was keen to learn more about what Research!America is doing and hopefully hone some of my skills for interacting with non-scientists, particularly in light of the current state of funding, and the sometimes tenuous perceptions of science held by the public. The workshop pulled together a number of necessary competencies for having impactful...
Research!America and the Executive and Professional Education program at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) co-hosted the two-day workshop, “Connecting the Dots: Effectively Communicating Science to non-scientists,” on April 13-14 at the Milken School of Public Health on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Read the summary here and view the photos here .

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Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.
Abraham Lincoln