The Scientists Dating Forum offered two informal lunch-time seminars on misread press releases and bottom-up movements
The 1st Conference on Social Impact of Science (SIS2016) provided a framework where different actors from various fields discussed the existing good practices, as well as the processes for further improvement of the social impact of science.
The role and valorisation of bottom-up movements in the scientific community
Seminar led by Babita Singh and Mar Escarrabill
Grassroots movements help to create an understanding between the scientific community and the public. Public participation in research is so important that the EU framework programme Horizon 2020 includes the public in its quadruple helix model along with science, industry and government. However, it is equally important that researchers feel the social responsibility to reach the public as well. Would it be possible to create an open community where these four helixes crosstalk? And how important is it?
Our seminar started with some examples of how public participation brought crucial changes in society such as women or gay rights, organic farming, renewable energy and increased budget for research on cancer and AIDS. Public participation has influenced the decision-making and set up the trends for a better world.
We then asked the audience if they thought there is a communication gap between scientists and the public and if they found enough resources to bridge this gap. The need to create a space where researchers could reach the public and vice versa was evident. For many researchers, this struggle was due to lack of resources or proper training to go out of their lab and walk that extra mile. Being a walking aid for this extra mile is one of the objectives of SciDF.
We all agreed that there should be a channel of communication among the quadruple helix model four pillars, speaking the same language and standing at the same level. The sooner we realise this, the better impact it would make.
Reaching the headlines: the jeopardy of misread press releases in health sciences
Seminar led by Mar Escarrabill and Clara Cosgaya
Flamboyant titles may attract more readers, but they also may lead to misinterpretation of research. The goal of this seminar was to discuss the consequences of misleading headlines in science news in a less formal environment over lunch. We aimed at fostering debate among participants so we developed a role playing game to promote public participation.
After a brief explanation of the process of research being translated into a piece of news, some real headlines from Spanish newspapers were shown to the audience (e. g. El Periódico de Aragón, Diario Córdoba, Amanece or El Mundo). The audience expressed their interpretations and feelings while reading the headlines according to the role that they had been assigned: patient, relative, researcher, medical doctor, journalist, etc.
The social impact of jeopardy headlines was highlighted. Some consequences that rose up were alarmism, patient blaming and stigmatization. After that, the press release of the research centre was shown to give way to an open debate regarding the origin and the responsibility of misinterpretation of science.
The final conclusions underlined the shared responsibility among different stakeholders to better communicate scientific results and the implications misleading information may have to the public eye. Participants were very proactive and it was an enriching experience for leaders and assistants.