Annotated links

An annotated colection of links that may be of benefit to environmental geoscientists looking for information on communication issues.

  • Risk communication websites - an annotated list of sites dealing with communication of rsk from Riskworld
  • Mediarology - climate scientist Steven Schneider's guide to science communication- "The Roles of Citizens, Journalists, and Scientists in Debunking Climate Change Myths"
  • Sense About Science -Promoting good science and evidence for the public "Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust. We respond to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation. We work with scientists and civic groups to promote evidence and scientific reasoning in public discussion. Our recent and current priorities include alternative medicine, MRI, detox, radiation, health tests, the status of evidence in public health advice, an educational resource on peer review and the public language of science." UK focussed site with much good information- Press officers' top tips particularly recommended
  • The Madness of Scientists - scientific misunderstanding of public and media; a provocative series of essays from science journalist Ted Neild. "After 25 years as a science journalist and public relations man, I conclude that never in the annals of beating about the bush with the wrong end of the stick has there ever been anything like the whole "public understanding/engagement with" science movement - all of which is scientists' own fault. This blog, written over 11 "fits", condenses my feelings about its misdirected efforts towards the solution of non-problems, and suggests a remedy based on simple PR and journalistic reality."
  • Worlds Apart, a year long study co-authored by Jim Hartz, veteran television journalist, and Rick Chappell, a space physicist, examined and surveyed the attitudes held by scientists, engineers and journalists to find out the extent to which the news media interact with and report on scientific issues. Essential reading for scientists engaged with the media.
  • The UK Royal Society report "Science and the Public Interest" (PDF) 
    This report is aimed at all scientists but focusses mostly on health related research. Its aim is to examine how research results should be presented to the public, whether these results need to be presented, and when they should be presented The report argues that scientists have two primary responsibilities when communicating their science; "The first is to attempt an accurate assessment of the potential implications for the public. The second is to ensure the timely and appropriate communication to the public of results if such communication is in the public interest. These twin responsibilities should be embedded within the culture of the research community as a whole, and all practices should take them into account and respect them."
  • Royal Society - communications and media skills courses for scientists
  • Factors affecting science communication: a survey of scientists and engineers - Royal Society report (10 mb pdf download). Amongst other interesting findings, the survey showed 73% of respondents (scientists/ engineeers) had no media/ communications training; 26% found policy makers the hardest group to talk to; 60% felt policy makers were the most important audience; and 64% felt that the need to spend more time on research impeded their ability to spend time on communication.
  • - an EU funded online learning resource for journalists, public officials and scientists.
  • The Scientific Communication Special Interest group (SciCom SIG) "is dedicated to the support of technical communicators who regularly deal with the specialized handling and delivery of scientific information" - oriented more towards specialist technical and scientific writers than scientists but still useful.
  • Communicating Science to the Public: A Handbook for Researchers - from the National Science and Research Council of Canada
  • Prometheus Science Policy Weblog from Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado: provides daily news and commentary on science policy issues. Emphasizes policy but is relevant in understanding how scientists can influence policy, and understanding the political context of decision making
  • International Network on Public Communication of Science and Technology
  • The Science Media Centre (UK); an independent body set up by the royal Institution to act as a resource for press looking for advice and stories relating to science and science issues. It also provides advice guides for scientists talking to the media and other information.
  • Eurekalert! is an online, global news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. EurekAlert! provides a central place through which universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations and other organizations engaged in research can bring their news to the media.
  • AlphaGalileo - resource centre for journalists covering science news stories; acts as a middle-man between researchers and the media
  • "Nature to be commanded" - landmark USGS professional paper written for planners, explaining geological maps
  • Public hazards communication - the state of the art - essential reading on hazards communication from Dennis Mileti. If a geoscientist working in hazards and needing information on communication should pick just one paper to read this perhaps should be it!

Meetings and conferences

Examples and Case studies

  • Landslides and Forest operations on Vancouver Island - a recent approach at communicating a large volume of geoscience data to professional practitioners, government decision makers, regulators, and industry staff. A one day course was presented at 5 cities across Vancouver Island and participants received the entire course and ancillary information on a CD. Overall response was overwhelmingly positive and has lead to several additional initiatives.
  • Ted Neild, a science journalist working for the Geological Society of London, writes eloquently about science and communication in his blog "The Madness of Scientists - scientific misunderstanding of public and media"

A Guide to Effective Scientific Communication provides a humourous guide to translating scientific language (e.g." Much additional work will be required" can be translated as "This paper is not very good, but neither is that of anyone else").