Lecture 17: Communicating Science: Extending the Reach of Your Research

Mr. Daniel Powell, United Nations University
Prepared by Ksenija Bunjak, University of Belgrade (Green Talent)

If the purpose of our research is application and/or implementation in any sector of society, than we must ask ourselves how do we communicate and bring the results closer to the targeted groups. On Tuesday, 23rd September, ‘2014 Young Researchers’ School’ joined the ‘2014 Asia-Pacific Leadership Programme on Environment for Sustainable Development’ for the lecture Communicating Science: Extending the Reach of Your Research. The lecture was delivered by Mr. Daniel Powell, a Communications Specialist from the United Nations University (UNU) Office of Communications, and co-editor of UNU web magazine Our World. Mr. Powell’s talk evolved around adequate ways of research communication, stressing the fact that most of the papers published on-line in PDF format were never read and that new communication ways should be considered. As an example, he presented different platforms for knowledge sharing between scientists such as Ensia, The Conversation etc.

Afterwards, Mr. Powell discussed the idea and the purpose of the UNU web magazine Our World. This web magazine first appeared in 2008 under the name Our World 2.0 presenting four themes – climate change, food security, biodiversity and energy. Today, it covers a wider range of topics grouped into the following sections: science & technology, development & society, peace & security, humanitarian affairs, and human rights. The magazine presents experts’ research on current relevant issues in the form of short articles, videos, photographs etc. Articles that are people-based or story-based, and that provide solutions and use clear terminology are shown to be more publicly acceptable. Mr. Powell further discussed the problem of measurement. How do we measure scientific articles published in journals and, on the other hand, simple short scientific stories published in magazines like Our World? In scientific circles research relevance is measured through publications and their impact factors. However, Our World magazine measures the public engagement through social media (Web sharing, comments, etc.).

The lecture was followed by a 30 minutes discussion that raised many interesting questions and, among several, the question of sustainability in the context of information sharing through Internet. Overall, this lecture was followed by a vivid discussion, which was different from the other YRS’s activities, providing new perspectives in the area of scientific communication.