Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dear Scientist, The Public Values Your Work--Tell Them Your Story

The Pew Research Center reported, in 2009, that Americans value the work of scientists and believe that science improves our lives. Scientists, on the other hand, are disappointed in the public’s understanding of science.

In cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the report found that scientists blame the media for doing a poor job of educating the public. Specifically, they believe that news reports do not distinguish between findings that are supported by evidence and claims that are not.

However, the days of scientists staying in their labs and leaving the reporting to the non-scientific media appear to be numbered. The National Science Foundation, which funds innovative science and engineering research, is training scientists to tell the story of their research using narrative techniques.

I see a similar gulf in rangeland science. Range managers value the work of plant ecologists and range science researchers, but researchers are often disappointed in how the knowledge they develop is applied on the ground. Managers, on the other hand, are frustrated by the flood of jargon-laden papers researchers produce.

I looked at this conflict, and described how scientists can use narrative nonfiction techniques to tell their story to diverse audiences, in my February, 2012 Land Lines column in Rangelands, a journal of the Society for Range Management.

No comments:

Post a Comment