Scientists’ views about communication training

John C. Besley, Anthony Dudo and Martin Storksdieck

This study assesses how scientists think about science communication training based on the argument that such training represents an important tool in improving the quality of interactions between scientists and the public. It specifically focuses on training related to five goals, including views about training to make science messages understandable, as well as attitude-focused training meant to build trust and credibility, to demonstrate that one listens to the public, to demonstrate that one cares about the public’s views, and to frame messages to resonate with audiences’ pre-existing values. The theory of planned behavior and procedural justice theory were used to identify potential predictors of views about training toward these goals. Results show that the scientists rate message comprehension and credibility most favorably and give their lowest rating to training related to framing. Regression analyses reveal that believing that public engagement can make a difference (external efficacy) and belief in the ethicality of specific goals were the best predictors of whether scientists saw value in goal-oriented training. The results suggest that communication trainers might benefit from emphasizing the effectiveness and ethicality of engagement activities if they want to attract scientists to communication training, and that more work may need to be done by professional organizations to help scientists consider the value of thinking about communication goals beyond the traditional focus on message comprehension.


Masterclasses in Science Communication: An international training programme for scientists and other professionals

Valentina Daelli, Paola Rodari

This paper seeks to highlight a significant shortcoming in the training of scientists and researchers. A survey of the experiences and needs of a sample of the scientific community has revealed a high level of interest in engaging with science communication projects, but there is a distinct lack of available training in why such projects are needed, and how to carry them out. Based on these findings, SISSA Medialab has developed a set of science communication Masterclasses for scientists, science communicators and other professionals. The content of these Masterclasses is outlined here, and the first stages of their evaluation are described. The courses are relevant across all scientific disciplines including astronomy.