So, here’s a question… What do you do when you see science based headlines in the news?
Do you accept the story because it’s filled with facts and figured? Do you totally disregard it because no doubt it’s been sensationalised? Or are you somewhere in the middle of that spectrum? Can you spot bad science – what do you do about it?
Okay, so maybe that was more than just “a” question but really, what do you do?
As a scientist being able to present your work to the public is extremely important. Not just for the publicity but because in a lot of cases the public have a right to know what research is being done and how this may impact them.
Now as a first year PhD student, it’s not something I had really given all that much thought to. That is, until I was invited to attend a workshop held by Sense about Science and Voice of Young Science (alongside a whole host of societies).
This workshop was extremely enlightening about how we, as the next generation of scientists, should be engaging with the public about our research and the media (though it may seem daunting and sensational) can be a great way to reach a wide range of audiences that may never hear about your work otherwise.
We heard from a panelist of academics who offered advice on the best way to present your research and yourself in the public eye. A few of the take away points from this session were:
- Know what you want to say and stick to it
- Lend yourself to areas that you have experience and genuine knowledge
- Don’t loose your credibility as a researcher or academic
A panelist of journalists then shared their views on how to get your research into the media and what THEY are looking for in a story and a scientist.
Two points were recurring in this session:
- Initiate contact with journalists
- Relate your research to people. How is this going to impact the public? What does this mean for the future?
Between the last set of panelists we heard about various initiatives to engage the public in scientific research and how early career researchers can get their voices heard in debates about science.
We heard real life experiences and tips on how to get yourself move involved. For me, the take home message was: Apply, join and volunteer for as many things as you want to, they may not all be a great fit and that’s okay – find away that works for you and GET YOUR VOICE HEARD. Because at the end of the day if you don’t, who will?
Sometimes it can be tricky navigating the media, I would DEFINITELY recommend attending one of these sessions if you have the chance. It’s certainly given me a bunch of ideas on how I’d like to be more involved and I can’t wait to see what experiences come out of this.
Plus, you get to spend the day with some pretty awesome people!