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What are we 'linking' with The Link?

Science communication is vital in making scientific knowledge more accessible to lay audiences. Researchers, trainers, and practitioners are working diligently to meet the growing demands of the 21st century. Yet, it's becoming apparent that this field needs to be more self-reflective and better demonstrate its effectiveness. 

Current science communication innovation and discovery get lost in the gap between research and practice. Many have experienced firsthand the complex challenges of translating scientific knowledge into tangible impacts.  Jensen and Gerber (2020) describe this issue best: 

"Ironically, perhaps the greatest challenge facing the field of science communication is a lack of effective communication."

 

Integrating research and practice

Supported by The Kavli Foundation, we seek to address this gap in the science communication research, training, and practice worlds through The Link.

The Link  is a science communication engagement platform that seeks to review, interpret, and share essential insights from different areas of science (social sciences, learning sciences, etc.). That is, we are  linking research with practice to support the broader community of those interested in scicomm and scientists who want to improve their skills and expand their knowledge base.

The idea for this platform came from a meeting of  SciComm Training Network and the survey conducted by the Alda Center in collaboration with Michigan State University, the University of Texas at Austin, University of Wisconsin, and ScienceCounts on " Assessing Scientists' Willingness to Engage." 

Following the meeting and the survey, we got the idea for this platform. We then chatted with The Kavli Foundation about supporting this vision and plans to build this platform began. But, like good science communicators, we wanted to make sure that anything we created would be helpful for our audience.

So we spoke with our audiences. 

Interviews

We first conducted semi-structured interviews with a mix of science communication researchers, trainers, and practitioners from various backgrounds to talk about what they'd like to see from a scicomm engagement platform focused on linking research with practice. Interviewees said They recommended that we look to others as examples and case studies.

They also told us they want to see a space that collates research regarding recency, effectiveness, and practicality. They encouraged us to develop short, exciting content relevant for scientists, scicomm practitioners, trainers, and researchers. They were clear that they wanted interdisciplinary information, in keeping with science communication's multidisciplinary nature.

Surveys

We administered two surveys: one within the scicomm field and the other to scientists. In both surveys, we asked how they perceive and interact with science communication resources - online and off. 

Again and again, we were told that info needs to be relevant and user-friendly. Respondents wanted to get granular to see for themselves how information comes together to paint a complete picture.

 

Putting it all together

If you participated in any of this outreach, thank you. We took your responses to heart and spent many months distilling what you said and understanding how your perspectives fit into this larger ecosystem. 

After we heard from you, we started to build something that - we hope - will support this community of scientists and scicommers. 

You were at the forefront of our minds throughout the development process, and we intend to keep it that way. 

To live up to this promise, we will post research syntheses, summaries, interactive sessions and webinars, audiovisual learning tools like podcasts, short videos, and infographics to bring findings to life and accelerate our collective ability to use and apply a broad range of knowledge. We also want this to be a free and accessible resource for us all.  

But that's not all - we're always looking for new ideas! Get involved with The Link and share your ideas for posts, videos, webinars, events, etc. Interested in becoming a sponsor?  Let us know!

 

In the coming weeks, months, and years, we look forward to working with you to build something that helps share the wonder and joy of science and research in practical and engaging ways. Together, we can help to address a critical societal need.