Why communicate science?
In this week’s Friday Phenomenon over on BIG-chat, Erin asked us to write fifty words or fewer on the importance of doing good science communication, as might be addressed to a university-based researcher.
Here’s my entry, in 50 words exactly:
Put yourself in the place of “the public”. In fact, when it comes to most science that isn’t your own field, you are the public. How would you like it if experts in other fields were bad at communicating their science? Treat others as you would like to be treated.
I threw this together very quickly, so I haven’t thought it through particularly thoroughly. So I thought I would expand a little on here.
The point I want to make here is quite distinct from all those (equally valid and necessary) arguments about the economic value of science, researchers’ own personal interest in public engagement, and fulfilling funding requirements. Quite simply, I think that good science communication is a moral imperative, a simple case of following the “golden rule” of behaviour, the “right thing to do” as it were.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider the following. Apart from anything else, selfishly keeping scientific knowledge behind closed doors, locked away in the ivory tower, is an inefficient use of information. Scientists should abhor such waste, especially those who are capable of doing something about it.
What 50 words would you use to persuade a researcher to communicate well? You could put your suggestions in a comment below, or better yet join BIG-chat (it’s free) and enter there by Friday.