Can outreach make you a better scientist?
#ESOF2012. Last week, as I was at ESOF, the European Open Science Forum in Dublin. I had the chance to attend to a great workshop about science communication. I guess I have to share it with you. Lots of tips, a lot of enthusiasm, many young researchers were by the way in the room, I believe it was a very successful session.
To me, it seems already clear that outreach can make you a better scientist. But this is the question the audience was asked to think about throughout the session… Engage with the public is often considered an add-on task to do although it’s actually part of your work. Engage with the public! Give more impact to your work. Give yourself more opportunities in your career, funding, and contribute to have citizens more aware of your research, so that they can chose the science you will be funded for.
Claire Ainsworth from SciConnect Limited, who was chairing this workshop defined what outreach is, and she made clear the difference between “outreach” (your research only) and “popularization” (science in general). Afterwards, she interacted with the attendees of the session to highlight the benefits of engaging science communication about your research and the barriers you have to overcome to outreach. Among these, lack of recognition, of training, peer disapproval.
Despite plenty of barriers to cross to outreach, some manage still to do great job. John Copley, marine biology researcher made a presentation and talked about his very rich experience of science communication although he is a scientist. His talk was very inspiring, mostly the part of this one dissemination action : thesearethevoyages.net. Listen here to a quick overview of what he said to the audience. To me, he should be a example for all researchers who try to engage with the public, about their findings.
Helen Gouling from Quercus Training made also a presentation focusing on the chance outreach gives for researchers to improve their own researchers skills, as communication skills are part of the skills a top researcher needs to carry out excellent work. And Lena Raditsch from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory gave a talk with sharing her experience at the EMBL.