Tue, Sep 25, '18
The dreaded last minute request from a journalist, the need to spend personal time interviewing, and the relentless push for simplifying content. Communications can sometimes feel like another burden for the already overworked scientist.
However, it can make or break the public perception of research, and its future direction. As we crunch the numbers to identify the best science communication professionals, we take a look at why communicating science is almost as important as the research itself.
Science is often publically funded, at least in part, and so it is important to tell the general public about what their money is going towards. It ensures transparency of public spending, but also helps provide an understanding of the impact such research could have for society. This is vital for ensuring favourable public opinion, but also safeguarding the future prospects of the research – and even aiding recruitment.
As much as being published in scientific journals remains a cornerstone of a scientist’s professional authority, effective communications is also important in building credibility. Media coverage in well-respected outlets provide an element of third party verification for your project, and more targeted activities, like social media or direct marketing, can help capture the attention of people you might otherwise struggle to get in front of, raising your standing professionally.
Whether influencing policy change for the greater good (like CRUK did with their latest Obesity campaign) or for securing funding for the benefit of the research or organisation itself, publicising scientific research is vital in getting scientific disciplines heard by decision makers. The public awareness that communication enables can also help to apply pressure to policymakers – as seen with the recent interest in ocean plastic.
When it comes to money, it’s often a case of those that shout the loudest get heard. All budgets are finite and ultimately programmes, disciplines and organisations must battle it out to make the strongest case. The stronger the ROI you can prove publically, and the higher the impact is noted in the public consciousness, the more it is likely to be allocated to you.
We often find that extra visibility through communication activities leads to enquiries from potential partners. Communicating your work enables you to reach researchers, particularly those from other disciplines, whose paths you might otherwise never have crossed. By talking publically about the potential of research, you can encourage greater collaboration opportunities and new possibilities.
Thinking you should be thanking your comms team? Today is the last day to nominate your organisation for SCi25, so what are you waiting for?