Scientists as science communicators – What do we learn from large-scale researchers’ surveys for improving public communication about science and research?
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, science in general but also researchers themselves received attention to a yet unprecedented extent by the public and by politicians in many countries. The public and political need for orientation by science and researchers in the pandemic also fueled ongoing discussions and prevailing demands for scientists to take on more societal responsibility and actively engage in public science communication.
But what do the scientists themselves think about science communication? How do they perceive their relation with and role within society and what is the reality they are confronted with within academia and scientific institutions?
This session will provide insights and findings from large-scale surveys on researchers’ experiences in and attitudes towards science communication as well as their perceptions of the public and audiences beyond academia. Results will be presented from national researchers’ surveys in Sweden, Germany and UK as well as from surveys of researchers in specific fields (climate scientists, astronomists).
These results offer insights into researchers’ thoughts and perspectives in different national contexts, as well as variations between scientific disciplines, research fields, academic positions and during different periods of time, including before and within the coronavirus pandemic. They also highlight the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motives of scientists for communicating as well as the importance of personal and contextual factors in explaining researchers’ engagement in public communication.
The session will aim to ascertain the key aspects that cause barriers to science communication engagement – varying for scientists in different contexts – but also focus on possible future solutions, incentives and support mechanisms. This is especially pertinent in light of the different structures of the academic systems in each of the countries and disciplines for which data is presented. The data presented will inform a discussion with the audience on ways to encourage researchers’ to meaningfully engage and communicate with the public. Implications on how to contribute to the future of science communication will be drawn for political stakeholders and scientific institutions as well as researchers and science communication professionals.