Public support for science can have a profound effect on policymaker support for research funding. Effectively communicating about the importance of science, the patient experience and recent discoveries that have potential policy implications is integral to connecting with both the public and policymakers.
To delve further into public sentiment, Research!America and the Society for Neuroscience hosted a webinar, “Leveraging Public Opinion in Support of Science” on Monday, December 4. The webinar was moderated by Anna Briseno, senior manager of communications, Research!America.
National public opinion survey data commissioned by Research!America shows that while public support for science is strong, few Americans understand our nation’s scientific enterprise. Only 19% of Americans can name a living scientist, and 33% of Americans can name an institution, company or organization where medical or health research is conducted.
“This invisibility problem is concerning for the science community, but it is amenable to change through meeting members of the non-science trained public more than halfway, including policymakers,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America. “Being an advocate, connecting to people, is about engaging hearts and minds, and making engagement in public outreach the new normal for the science community.”
Christopher Volpe, Ph.D., executive director, ScienceCounts, described that organization’s aim to understand what’s going on in the hearts and minds of people when they think of science. Through ScienceCounts' national benchmark segmentation survey conducted in collaboration with Research!America, certain aspirational terms were identified that resonated most with the public, such as “discovery,” “invention” and “technology,” and most of all, “hope.” ScienceCounts is currently wrapping up a pilot program in stimulating action in support of science.
Navneet Matharu, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, University of California San Francisco, discussed the implementation of the 3 Minute Thesis model of communication, and provided tips on communicating scientific research effectively and concisely. Dr. Matharu emphasized that it’s important to include a metaphor, narrative or story that connects emotionally with the audience.
Research!America and the Society for Neuroscience will host three more webinars in 2018, click here to learn more and register.