Categories
Reading List EN

RL #002: Publish or Perish! Is Communicating Scientific Findings in Journals Still the Right Strategy?

Just before the end of the year the publishing rush is back. While large parts of the western world oscillate between a consumer frenzy and a production stop lasting several weeks, thousands of young academics start writing, revising or editing an article. What counts is turning research into an argument, the argument into a script and the script into an article. Or two! The pressure to publish has put many scientists has increased. A study cited in the Katapult magazine and a personal experience published in the Spektrum magazine show how this happens (both texts in German).

Those affected voice their annoyance and displeasure. One of the more recent examples comes from David A. M. Peterson. In his revenge (unfortunately hidden behind a paywall) against common publishing practices, he titles: “Dear Reviewer 2: Go F’ Yourself“. Black humour from the researchers’ WhatsApp group. However, the discontent is also accompanied by creative ideas. Nicola von Lutterotti claims in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that radical open publication would create transparency and improve the quality of the work, as a critical audience could ask questions while research is still in progress. Another approach presented in the Austrian daily derStandard last July was to evaluate researchers on the basis of the Hong Kong Principles (in English) so that they could maintain their integrity. A promising approach?

No matter where one looks, it becomes clear that research should result in more than overflowing publication lists. But can researchers be expected to do the additional work of communicating to a broad audience? Where to begin? Whereas a study by the German Centre for Research on Higher Education and Science presented in the magazine Forschung und Lehre reveals that about 30% of working time at German universities is spent on research (and publication), 30% on teaching and 40% on supervision, third-party funding acquisition and participation in administrative and organisational work at the institute and in committees, communication agencies such as Oikoplus are developing formats that enable scientists to reach out to society with as little effort as possible. Don’t worry! Not all scientists have to be the “champion” with an independent community described by Beatrice Lugger for the National Institute for Science Communication in 2017. One thing is certain, however: the chances of being appointed to a professorship increase with the level of awareness associated with the person. Science communication thus needs to shift from communicating only the results to communicating processes that include the authors leading to the results. The choice of medium could, in future, be designed more freely.

From our projects
At this point we give a monthly insight into the work of Oikoplus.

The Archeodanube project, in which Oikoplus is involved together with the association Sustainication e.V., is concerned with strategies for sustainable archaeology tourism (“Archeotourism”) in the Danube region. Here you can find the current project newsletter

And in the SYNCITY project, we are working with a number of Belgian partners on participatory concepts for the development of the Cureghem district of Brussels. We report on the project in the Cureghem Tales

Categories
Reading List EN

RL #001 – The Hammer and the Dance, with Evidence, please!

2020 was the year of science communication, one might think. When has there ever been such intense public discussion about epidemiology and public health issues as in the year of the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic? The Coronavirus Update of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk NDR became the most listened to German podcast right from the start. Its main protagonist, the virologist Christian Drosten, explained in a recent interview on the occasion of being awarded the Klartext Special Prize for Science Communication how important he considers the communicative role of scientists. A conversation worth reading. 

Proper communication is not only important in the communication between research and society, but also within scientific communities. A study identified a gender gap several months ago. Male researchers communicate their research more forcefully than their female colleagues. This was reported in the Katapult magazine

The described problem of gender inequality in the communication of science is probably not the only communication problem science has. Otherwise, political decisions would have to be made much more often on the basis of evidence, wouldn’t they? But a simple causal chain between scientific evidence and political decision making is extremely rare. Sometimes it is even difficult to find even one correlation. However, especially in the year of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a call for political measures based on scientific evidence. When policy is scientifically based, this is particularly noticeable when it is openly discussed. For example, the famous concept “The Hammer and the Dance” for coronavirus containment. When did a scientifically based policy concept last become so famous so quickly? It’s worth taking a look at how it came about that political personnel in countries around the globe adopted the hammer and the dance strategy so quickly for their communication. Presumably this is also to some extent related to the catchy headline of Tomas Pueyo’s text. His text “The Hammer and the Dance”, which was read and shared by millions within a very short time in spring 2020, was originally supposed to be called “The Lockdown and the Release”, as he himself recently described on Twitter. There he also published the basic ideas of his famous text in bullet point form. An interesting and historical example of science communication that caused political impact, which also shows that successful science communication does not necessarily have to be done by scientists themselves.

For many topics, knowledge-based decision making does not seem to be the most politically obvious basis. No wonder. Science and politics do not follow the same logic. And it’s not as if science constantly produces incontestable truth. A text worth reading that looks at the difficulties of evidence-based politics appeared on the Rand Corporation blog in May. 

From our projects
At this point we give a monthly insight into the work of Oikoplus.

The Archeodanube project, in which Oikoplus is involved together with the association Sustainication e.V., is concerned with strategies for sustainable archaeology tourism (“Archeotourism”) in the Danube region. Here you can find the current project newsletter

And in the SYNCITY project, we are working with a number of Belgian partners on participatory concepts for the development of the Cureghem district of Brussels. We report on the project in the Cureghem Tales