Communicating Science via the Web - Tools and Tips for Grad Students


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  • The Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) at Oregon State University has been very successful in expanding the basic science that explains how the impact of environmental stresses can be modulated to promote health.  To build a solid foundation to improve health, it is essential that we continue to bore deeper into the underlying mechanisms that impact health benefits as well as risks. 
  • Focus on strong scienceIn-person Connections / Social NetworkSolid clear writing that the public can understandPractice having dialogue with various audiences via the webShare your passion when you communicate the sciencePeer review prior to posting articles on-line
  • Responses to “If you wanted to learn about scientific issues such as global warming or biotechnology, where would you get information?” Govt. Sources are included in the Other categoryInternet is where people get their information about science, generally what’s relevant to them..(in the news, tied to political issues, things that impact their health). We focus on complex science/risk communication issues: low dose, mixtures, windows of exposure, biomedical research ethics, routes of exposure, toxicity screening, etc.The Internet is the main source of information for learning about specific scientific and emerging hazards and issues.
  • It’s great that the public does trust the information coming from scientists.2009 Poll, Your Congress, Your Health. course, the public is suspicious if scientists are funded by industry in specific areas like GM foods, etc.
  • It would be nice if it was a simple equation. It’s complex. We know when it comes to social adaptation and technology, scientists are behind the curve. Although 72% of internet-using Americans are on Facebook, less than 2/3 of college faculty are. Similarly, in one survey, more than half of lab managers said they have never used Facebook.We want to support the scientific community to be more engaged. In 2009, Research!America polled the average American and asked them a very simple question: name a living scientist. A sobering 65%didn’t even try, and another 18% got it wrong. The challenge is that…. poll in 2007 shared that only 28% percent of Americans can pass a basic science literacy test. *Note: Science literacy is only a small factor in how people form their opinions, while the interplay between values, religious affiliation, and the opinions of others whom they trust is much more influential.Wewant people to make responsible decisions on complex scientific issues when only a small percentage of our population—including our policy-makers—has even a basic grasp on the science behind the debates?The public trusts scientists in general, but part on specific issues…..It is especially important that we engage in social networking because studies have shown science literacy is only a small factor in how people form their opinions, while the interplay between values, religious affiliation, and the opinions of others whom they trust is much more influential.While political parties and religious organizations jump head first into discussions of their beliefs with anyone who will listen, thus playing an active role in the decision-making process, scientists stand back, hand out facts, and expect that information alone is enough to sway attitudes. Instead of appearing as beacons of knowledge, our actions make us appear stuffy, elitist, and disengaged. By connecting scientists with the rest of the world, social media is the most powerful tool available for us to shift this paradigm.
  • The best scenario is that the Scientist are where the people are and explain science, which is their passion in their own words. Not just put out information.TedTalks are great examples! Work internally to help and guide scientists to think differently about how they share their research via the web.As scientists, we pride ourselves on doing meaningful, cutting-edge research and publishing it in the top-tier journals of our field. The problem is, these publications only communicate science to other scientists.Wise words of Alan Alda. In an essay for AAAS, he said "Every scientist reading this has a deep passion for science. I implore you: let your passion out. Share it with us. Warmly, with stories, imagination, even with humor . But most of all, in your own voice.”Think about branding yourself as a scientistAlan Alda currently at Stony Brook University School of Journalism, Center for Communicating Science, founding member, PBS show Scientific American Frontiers,
  • if a journalist can’t see why his/her audience might care about your research, he/she will likely not report on it. Provide the implications of the research. Think about what people care about, and put your research in that context.
  • Social Network the act of engaging with one another…Expanding contacts by making connections through individuals.
  • Social Media is important because… It takes us to people who talk about our research, have interest in our research, need our research, that we don’t know about…We have the ability to learn about related research, other people’s interests and needs, and all of the things we don’t know that we don’t know.World of possibilities – potential partners, listening the needs of various groups, being visible and easy to followFostering a culture of trust, because you care about being transparent and available to everyone.Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue – Tools for community building – bi-directional communicationPublishing your findings is one thing, but it’s just as important to clearly and effectively convey the significance of your research to your dean, a reporter, a senator or a stranger at a party. Simply put, the more people who know the implications of your research, the more opportunities may come for collaboration, funding, influencing public policy and improving societal awareness of science.
  • Start small and take baby steps
  • OSU have free space for a website and easy blog set up. Be a resource
  • The People: Integral part of the news system in the futureCDC's Chris Portier and EPA's Lisa P. Jackson both connect with the public via Twitter. 140 characters on Twitter: “Hook” title, phrase or quoteLink to visual, photo, and more information Reply to and support others by retweetingIt’s not just about your center or research – support and share about others search and promote key works and topics via #hashtags Twitter Events: Building community – leveraging.Lisa P. Jackson and Mom’s Clean Air Force. – Twitter event on air pollution and mercury. #momscafArchive #hashtag events, good notes of conversations and meetings to share or return to later. When time is limited, hashtags allow you to find information (I search #superfund, #NIEHS, etc.)
  • image shows the variety and number of people tweeting with very limited promotion.  Besides NIEHS and NIEHS-centers from OSU, UCincinnati, and UW, tweeters included non-profits, individuals, industry and related govt and universities such as NLM, NIH, EHP, and CROET at OHSU, and NPIC and CPPHS at OSU. Leveraged larger networks like NIEHS and EPA Summary1. This week brought together a community on air quality and human health.  2. The hashtag #healthyair now can be searched with worthwhile information and resources.  However, EPA and others may have used other hashtags, such as #airquality, and we may have missed the opportunity to be in a larger network.3.  My number of followers increased, and having a focused week of tweeting helped me gain some skills and practice.  (Others may have more to share here)4. I feel it’s worthwhile to have Tweetfests 3-4 times per year. It will build as other Centers begin to recognize the value.  Possible Future TweetfestsOctober - Healthy Literacy MonthMarch - World Water Day. Groundwater Awareness WeekApril - National Public Health Week,  World Health Day, Earth Day, Cancer Control MonthMay - Asthma and Air, May 6–12, 2012 isDrinking Water Week. Days to focus on SRP projects and have conversations via TwitterEncourage hashtag tweeting and sharing at conferences of interest to others in the network
  • Educators are a huge audience. People appreciate visuals.Pinterest is an online pinboard that lets you put your favorite images on a single Web page. You can share your “pins” with others or browse pinboards created by others.Minimum will organize your information into categories using pictures…. I get people who regularly repin.Provides exposure, place to comment
  • Communicating Science via the Web - Tools and Tips for Grad Students

    1. 1. Communicating Science via the WebTools and Opportunities for Graduate Students Naomi Hirsch Environmental Health Sciences Center Superfund Research Center
    2. 2. Skills for Success Do Good Science / Write Learn to Use Clearly for Social Media Share Science Diverse Effectively With Passion Audiences Be professional Share, engage, network, listen authentic Be1November 16, 2012
    3. 3. University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey (2008)Source:
    4. 4. How Much Do People Trust What Scientists Say?In Science We Trust: Poll Results on How You Feel about Science (Scientific American 9/22/10)
    5. 5. Most people learn about scientific issues on-line Trust scientists Most scientists are not Only 28% percent of on-line educating and Americans can pass a informing the public and basic science literacy policymakers test Science literacy is only a “Trust is not about small factor in how people information; it’s about form their opinions. dialogue and transparency” The interplay between Borchelt, Friedmann, & Holland values, religious Managing the Trust Portfolio: Science affiliation, and thePublic Relations and Social Responsibility opinions of others whom they trust is much more influential.
    6. 6. Communication is notsomething extra you add on to science; it is the essence of science"Every scientist reading this has a deep passion for science. I implore you: let your passion out. Share it with us.Warmly, with stories, imagination, even with humor. But most of all, in your own voice.” - Alan Alda
    7. 7. Communicating Science Graphic Credit: Communicating the science of climate change Richard C. J. Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol6 Physics Today, October 2011, page 48 16, 2012
    8. 8. Create a Strong Social Network Professors & Investigators OSU Individuals at communit professiona y l meetings You Individuals Interest working in groups your field of interest Friends and family
    9. 9. Expand Network Using Social Media People talking about your research and Be where the related research people arePotential partners for Professors & People who have Investigatorsresearch and projects interest in your Individuals research OSU at community professional meetings You Listen and learn Individuals Interest working in groups your field of interestJournalists and science Friends People who need to writers who want to and know about your Familywrite and share about research your research Friends and followers of friends and family
    10. 10. What are some pitfalls?9November 16, 2012
    11. 11. On-line Tools to Communicate Your Science1. Create a Professional Website/Blog ( • Post your CV and publications • Share updates, photos and videos from your research • Tell the world why your research is important2. Social Media Accounts • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest • LinkedIn, Google Scholar10November 16, 2012
    12. 12. Why Twitter Works Being accessible,The People: fostering trust,Journalists, scientists, bloggers, students, educ andators, industry, nonprofits, national, state and having platformslocal govt, community for engagement,leaders, mothers, doctors, nurses,… dialogue and sharing• What people share• 140 character limit• Efficiency of posting, replying, re-tweeting, supporting, dialogue• #Hashtags (#phd, use specific science topic)• Analytics
    13. 13. #HealthyAir Tweetfest April 30 - May 4, 2012In support of World Asthma Day and EPAs Air Awareness Week Summary report
    14. 14.
    15. 15. 14November 16, 2012
    16. 16. Elevator Speech Videos 1. Articulate the importance and impact of your research 3. 2. personal Share career values/pass goals ion 2-minute Elevator Speech15November 16, 2012 View Examples
    17. 17. 16November 16, 2012
    18. 18.