Why does good communication matter when it comes to science?
In a recent article for The Wildlife Professional, a journal published by The Wildlife Society, Joe Gaydos discussed the imperative for scientists to become better communicators.
“[Wildlife scientists] are thinkers motivated by questions and answers and a dedication to managing resources for long-term sustainability and the good of the whole. …But we are living in an age where most people get their information from places other than where scientists publish. Consequently our information is often not read, heard, used, or even believed.” (emphasis added)
Gaydos reviews two books that have informed his own approach to science communication, Don’t be Such a Scientist by Randy Olson and Escape from the Ivory Tower by Nancy Baron.
Olson’s book showcases specific communication failures (but with a light touch) and provides advice on speaking naturally and persuasively. Baron’s book is more of a how-to manual, with detailed advice on crafting clear messages and speaking with policymakers.
Gaydos writes, “…wildlife biologists have an obligation to speak for our science so it is available and accessible to those who need to use it to make important decisions…. It’s time we all step out of our comfort zone, put our best foot forward, and become part of the discussion.”