Communicate your science

April 25, 2018

There is often this stigma around scientists and the work they do. For the public eye, science is this non-understandable, only-for-the-brainiac, not-for-everyone concept.  Science is evolving at such a steep pace, that scientists are even struggling to keep up and the public are just falling further behind.

Dr Marina Joubert, science communication researcher and lecturer at CREST gave a guest lecture at an event hosted by Surgor at the Department of Logistics, Stellenbosch University, for operations research students and lecturers. With the goal of “bridging the gap between the scientist and the public” she gave some interesting food for thought on science communication.

She said it is important to make complex science applicable and available to everyone. With that in mind, it is crucial to determine how you want your audience to respond. Only then can you start with the challenge of actually reaching you audience.

While touching on the difference of science journalism (which should be objective) and science communication (which is often subjective), she said that the media plays a big role in science these days. With our media platforms it is easy for someone to post something online that is not necessarily 100% factual. Therefore, untrustworthy communication spread just as easy as the factual communication and misleads the public. It is thus extremely important for us to get our research through to the targeted audience.

She concluded with practical ideas of how to take your research to the public. For example, when working with children, use a song or cartoons. Display your research as a play or a dance. Give a performance in a public space like a train station.

Make sure to know your audience and that they understand you.

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