Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Reasons Why Scientists Communicate Their Research Fiindings.

 Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Science isn't infallible, but the premise of scientific research is that it's among the best available ways of trying to understand a complicated world.--John Besley, Michigan State University

I don't know whether you have ever wondered why scientists spend time communicating with others about their work.

In a recent survey of 516 U.S. academic scientists and 573 Canadian researchers, they ranked their reasons on a scale from 1-7. At the top of the lists, the most highly valued reason for sharing the findings of their research with decision-makers so policies could be based on scientific evidence.

Here are the rankings from top to bottom: ensuring policy makers use scientific evidence, ensuring our culture values science, ensuring adequate funding for research, helping people use science to make better personal decisions, fulfilling a duty to society, and asked only of U. S. scientists, strengthening my own professional reputation.

A few of these are also goals of recent reforms in science education such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)--the use of scientific evidence, the cultural value of science, and using science in both personal and social decision making.

These data are from John Besley, a professor of public relations at Michigan State University, who has written a short essay in The Conversation, about this research. The opening epigraph is from this essay and the essay includes a very nice graph which displays the data.

Of course there are many goals which could have been explored, e.g., their intentions on influencing policy makers to adopt specific actions--new laws, regulations, their interest in learning from those they communicate with--this might influence what they choose to research, and the reason(s) for their rankings. 

Among Besley's team is improving scientists's communicatons through encouraging "scientists to collaborate with communication experts withing their" their academic institutions.

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