4 thoughts on “Public Engagement? What About the Academics?! A Guide for Confused Engagers

  1. Last paragraph = awesome. I totally agree that most academics *looks around* need to get ‘off their pedestals’ and remember that research isn’t all about making a publication or thesis. Great article!

  2. I think the case and need for public engagement should not be over-emphasized. While it is certainly desirable there are other criteria that need much more consideration especially ‘impact’ of the research being undertaken. These days researchers have to clearly and exhaustively demonstrate the economic and societal impact arising from their work – this is a major strand throughout a research programme, much more emhasis is palced on this than public communication of science Guidance from some research councils indicate that while public engagement is encouraged, researchers should be wary of making such activities too demanding and to the detriment of research activities. A strong argument could be made for most science communication being left to professionals 🙂

    • I think an argument could be made, but not a strong one (:-P). I think that assessing and understanding the impact of an academics’ work is invaulable, especially since funding is so difficult to get we really need to think how different projects can most effectively benefit the sector they are working in or for. If when making proposals this then makes academics have to sit back and adjust some of their research methodology to make it relevant and effective then that is fine. All from a standard methodological point of view.

      My point here, as well as communicating to someone with no academic background (as supposed to saying general public) being important to an extent, is that public engagement also means engaging with the policy makers and other professionals who may be working in a sector but not as a scientist i.e. in heritage science this would be conservators. They are the end-users of the scientific/academic research I am carrying out, but they do not necessarily understand any of the methodology. However, it is imperative that me, the researcher, is able to communicate my research’s worth to them in order to make it worthwhile for any funding body. This is the same for policy makers either at a museum or goverment level.

      This is not just the work of a ‘science communicator’, but of the individual researcher. They need to be able to understand how their research affects their particular sector to enable them to carry out the research. I needed to understand the needs of curators and conservators to ensure the question I was researching was relevant.

      I think too many academics worrying they have to be able to teach a toddler about channel flow when really they just need to understand why they are doing it themselves (other than for personal interest).

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