The power and benefits of effective science communication

 

Communication of research findings is embedded in an academic’s job description. Scientists give presentations, write papers for journals, communicate with funders through reports and the general public through mass media to inform and educate.

There is no doubt that to be a successful scientist, you must be a good communicator. Increasingly, funding bodies request, from the early stages of grant proposals, examples of how research can build on and expand the existing knowledge and what impact it can have on society and/or governmental policy.

Conferences, workshops, symposia and publications are considered as impact activities because they can generate debate while communicating findings to all stakeholders.

As science is increasingly interdisciplinary, effective communication is crucial to bring forward understanding, collaboration and innovation. Being able to communicate the relevance and impact of your research findings will also secure further funding and help your academic career.

At an academic level, sharing research can generate collaborations among experts and inspire new topics to investigate.

The challenges of scholarly communication

In our digital age, the channels of communications have increased and researchers are as likely to engage their audiences not only with reports, conferences and peer-reviewed articles in journals, media interviews, but also with tweets, blogs and public webinars.

Science communication informs, educates, shares achievement and raises awareness of research findings. It includes science outreach - scientists to non-expert audiences, usually through public events, mass and digital media - and science inreach - scientists to experts, conducted through scholarly communication, typically publication in scientific journals and conferences, which often generate published proceedings.

Academic topics can influence people’s opinions, behaviours and policy preferences. Science does touch the lives of individuals, for instance making decisions about vaccinating children, medical care, education, nutrition, etc.

Effective dissemination is particularly important for the public health field, particularly during a pandemic like Covid-19 or other health emergencies, for instance the obesity’s time bomb, which is threatening populations and increasing health budgets. A recent paper entitled Getting the Word Out: New Approaches for Disseminating Public Health Science focuses on the gap between academic knowledge and practitioners’/policymakers’ awareness. It is thus important to establish a link between academia, industry and government to change norms and improve living conditions.

Open Access: an equitable way to disseminate research findings

Communicating research findings to the general public is increasingly important to build support for science, making it diverse and, depending on the research, to foster informed decision-making within a community and at governmental level. Good examples include controversial issues such as climate change, hydraulic fracturing, nuclear energy, stem cells, genetically modified organisms and other outputs that can solve societal problems.

This is where Open Access publishing comes in, making research available to all, experts and the general public. Open Access papers also benefit institutional libraries with small budgets, universities in developing countries and independent researchers, who are not affiliated to an institution and have to pay to access papers.

Scientists are challenged to communicate their research findings in a complex, dynamic and competitive environment. Sciendo offers publishing services for all institutional budgets and support to conference organisers, while catering for the needs of individual authors and academic institutions. Visit our publishing (books and journals) and conference pages to find out how we can help you disseminate your research findings and maximise their impact after publication and in the long term.