GÄSTKRÖNIKA: So you are a researcher… what’s your research about?

So… you are a researcher … interesting … and what’s your research about? Is it something we are likely to see in industry or hospitals soon?

Hugo Gutiérrez de Terán and Eva Garmendia . Photo: https://evagaresp.wixsite.com/scicomm

This is a common reaction that we, researchers, get when we mingle anywhere outside of our jobs, when we chat with non-scientists about our day-to-day life. Desired or not, in our job we immerse ourselves deeply into very specific topics and need great dedication. Due to this, it is not uncommon that we isolate ourselves, that we put every effort into solving the research puzzle we are seeking to solve. That puzzle is part of a bigger picture that will end up, hopefully, benefiting society through either knowledge or practical advances.

But until that moment, how can we inform society about our projects and research? How do we communicate the questions we are searching for, the need for answers and the complicated yet beautiful world that we live in? As scientists, we are supposed to dedicate our academic career to research and teaching, but many forget along the way a third commitment: that we ought also to communicate and spread, outreach, the science that we conduct.

Who teaches us how to communicate science properly?

For the first commitment, research, we are taught everything during our masters and doctorates. For the second, good teaching practices are assured by undertaking pedagogy courses as well as mandatory teaching and supervising early on. But, who teaches us how to communicate science properly? How you reach people with different backgrounds, upbringings, and pre-conceptions?

Recognising a lack of available science communication training, the Society of Spanish Scientists in Sweden arranged a one-day workshop on Scientific Communication and Outreach last year. The event was a success with more than 50 participants, including several scientists with experience in the area, journalists and teachers. After this warm welcome, Uppsala University has turned the workshop into a graduate course, the first of its kind there.

We are coordinating and organising this course that ran in June. The course not only approached the field from a theoretical point of view but also involved practical elements. Participants had to share their research via social media channels or turn a research article into a written news item. Other topics covered were the connection between science and art, effective visualisations, popularisation of science in schools, the links between science and policy, and universities’ role in science outreach and public engagement.

/Hugo Gutiérrez de Terán and Eva Garmendia, researchers at Uppsala University

Hugo Gutiérrez de Terán and Eva Garmendia are Spanish researchers at Uppsala University and members of the Society of Spanish Scientists in Sweden. They are organising the first graduate course in scientific communication and outreach at the university, in collaboration with the faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology, the Association of Spanish Scientists in Sweden, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology and the Areces Foundation.

Läs mer om VAs medlemsorganisation Uppsala universitet  här.

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