'Science communication is not something to be done on the side’
Researchers are being more and more expected to promote their work to the general public as that is key to fostering society's trust in academia, not to mention it can contribute to collectively finding solutions to social problems, writes KNAW.
But that is easier said than done: many researchers do not have enough time and support to focus on this aspect of their careers. Researchers at VU Amsterdam made a summary of what is happening in the field of science communication and what kind of impediments it faces. The main problem is that science communication is something that researchers tend to do "on the side", especially considering that their performance in this area plays little or no part in the assessment of their work.
A project group within the KNAW has come up with some recommendations (in Dutch, Ed). They write that science communication must be a major part of someone's academic duties. It should be deemed just as important as research, teaching and academic leadership.
In addition, science communication should be part and parcel of every research project from start to finish, meaning that some of the research budget needs to be set aside for it.
A discipline in itself
Another recommendation is to regard academic communication as a discipline in itself. Researchers interested in becoming proficient in it must receive training and exchange experiences with other colleagues. That way, it's not necessary for everyone to reinvent the wheel.
The Dutch Minister of Education, Robbert Dijkgraaf, is pleased with the investigation and the recommendations. This spring, he made funds available to set up a national centre for academic communication. If the plans are approved, the centre can be inaugurated in the autumn of 2024.