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Engaging the public in research using science communication

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Presented by JDan K. Kaye …

Presented by JDan K. Kaye
Makerere University, Uganda
at the Public Engagement Workshop, 2-5 Dec. 2008, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, http://scienceincommunity.wordpress.com/

Published in Health & Medicine , Technology
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  • 1. Engaging the public in research using science communication Dan K. Kaye Makerere University, Uganda Engagement empowers
  • 2. Background
    • The public are informed, critical and powerful agents in health care decision-making.
    • Media professionals are key to successful engagement with the public if the public is to be involved as active partners.
    • There is urgent need to test interventions that strengthen and promote public engagement with researchers
      • explicitly target barriers to the use of evidence from research in development of policy
      • Address barriers to utilization of research results in the community
      • Innovative science communication strengthens research translation and policy making.
    • Science communication empowers the community at large
    Engagement empowers
  • 3. The need for public engagement in science communication on ethics of research
    • Ethical research should contribute to social value in the country where research is being carried out,
      • but there is debate around how this might be achieved
    • Two inter-related strategies to maximize social value:
      • collaborative partnerships with policy makers and communities from the outset of research,
      • dissemination of research results to participants, policy makers and implementers once the research is over.
    Engagement empowers
  • 4. Methods of communicating Science
    • 1. Using images and pictures.
    • Images are powerful means of communication: a strong image can underscore an experimental result more effectively than any words,
    • 2 The media may be used to communicate science.
    • The limitation of the media role is that journalists may not understand science or may not know how to communicate science
    Engagement empowers
  • 5. Methods of communicating Science
    • 3. Using theatre as a unique method of translating findings (Rossiter et al 2008).
    • Such could involve non-theatrical performances, ethnodramas, which can be interactive or non-interactive, theatrical research-based performances and fictional theatrical performances.
      • Because of its ability to communicate research findings in an emotive and embodied manner, theatre holds particular potential for health research, engaging in complex questions of the human condition.
    Engagement empowers
  • 6. Reasons why there is poor communication between scientists and nonscientists
    • Many researchers don’t understand the process of scientific writing, peer review or communication of science (Guilford 2001).
    • The media fraternity and public do not understand the necessity of having new scientific results vetted before sending them out to the general public.
      • This avoids sending out incorrect, sensational or alarming results.
    • The public and media need orientation in basics of peer review and research process
    • There is little concerted effort to communicate research finding to the public
      • and where this occurs, the mode, methods and approach used is not appropriate (Nelkin 1996; Payne et al 2005).
    Engagement empowers
  • 7. Why is there poor communication of science?
    • The limitations to the usefulness of researchers' work are grouped into the two broad areas: format and forum (Jack 2006).
    • Format issues include the manner in which research reports are presented, their often equivocal nature, and their failure to take into account the cycles and calendars of executive or legislative policy makers.
    • Forum issues involve the nature of the audience.
    Engagement empowers
  • 8. Background
    • For decades Makerere University has conducted research at different levels.
    • Few projects have succeeded in communicating findings to policy makers or the public, due to
      • researchers’ lack of knowledge about communicating scientific information,
      • lack of a pro-active policy of engaging the public in health research,
      • and public lack of awareness of the importance of research in development.
    Engagement empowers
  • 9. Methods
    • Using a grant on International Public Engagement from Wellcome Trust worth $53, 313, Makerere University College of Health Sciences initiated the science communication approach in October 2008 to implement a programme of active engagement of the public in health research.
    • The goal is to improve translation of research into policy and hasten adoption of evidence-based interventions.
    Engagement empowers
  • 10. Methods
    • The main expected outcome is to build a critical mass of researchers and journalists with competence in communicating scientific research to the public,
    • The mode of the training programme is to utilize short-term courses (lasting 5 days) to health professionals and journalists from the print, performing and broadcasting media.
    Engagement empowers
  • 11. Training format
    • Trainees of different backgrounds will be trained together using a format involving
      • group work,
      • interactive discussions,
      • case presentation, role plays
      • take-home assignments.
    • Spin offs:
      • to instill a spirit of team work
      • to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration,
    Engagement empowers
  • 12. Outcome measures
    • Implementation is at four levels, over 24 months:
    • Training workshops for 90 journalists on reporting on health scientific research issues to the public
    • Training workshops for 150 young researchers on communicating scientific research findings to the media and policy makers in a way that is readily acceptable and understandable
    Engagement empowers
  • 13. Outcome measures (cont’d)
    • Engaging with communities on health research issues through bimonthly press briefings, monthly radio talk shows and quarterly public debates on health research.
    • Assessment and documentation of barriers and facilitators to communication and utilization of research findings by the media, policy makers and the public.
    Engagement empowers
  • 14. Outline of training programme
    • October-December:
      • Needs assessment
      • development of training manuals
    • Training of Researchers in science communication-
      • 1 st week of January, April, July and October every year 2009-2010
    Engagement empowers
  • 15. Training and engagement programme outline and timelines
    • Training the media fraternity in science communication-
      • 1 st week of February, May, August and November for years 2009-2010
    • Public debates and discussion fora on scientific research-
      • 1 st or 2 nd week of March, June, September and December for 2009-2010
      • Monthly radio talk shows on scientific research.
    • Evaluate the project and final report
      • Jan-March 2011 (with mid term evaluation end of 2009).
    Engagement empowers
  • 16. Future plans
    • Initiate longer duration course in science communication
      • using the lessons learnt from this training programme on public engagement in health research
      • Will work with School of Public Health and Department of Mass communication to develop training curricula of a modular format
    Engagement empowers
  • 17. Future plans
    • Will disseminate widely and publish:
    • The results of the needs assessment
    • The lessons learnt from public engagement
    Engagement empowers
  • 18. Acknowledgements
    • Team Members:
      • Jennifer Bakyawa
      • Nelson Kakande
      • Prof Nelson Sewankambo
    • Funding from the Wellcome Trust International Engagement Award
    • Collaboration and collaborative support from
      • School of Public Health and Dept Of Mass Communication , Makerere University
      • COHRED
      • Julia Royall (National Library of Medicine, NIH)
    Engagement empowers