EU policy dialogue on Science Communication

The CONCISE consortium has presented recommendations for legislators and policy makers to improve science communication from public institutions at the EU Policy Dialogue conference. The event took place online and brought together 157 people.

The policy dialogue was welcomed by Ms Signe Ratso, General Director for Research and Innovation from the European Commission, who, through a video, highlighted the importance of science communication: “the communication of science – she said – is essential to transfer scientific knowledge and recommendations on crucial issues to society. ” In this regard, she underlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of science communication to respond to threats to public health and build public confidence in how the pandemic is tackled.

This event brought together 157 people. Among others, the MEPs Estrella Durà and Lina Gálvez participated. In their speeches, both highlighted the need of reinforcing collaboration between science, communication and politics and the relevance of accurate information for the protection of citizens’ lives.

the communication of science – Ms Signe Ratso said – is essential to transfer scientific knowledge and recommendations on crucial issues to society

CONCISE recommendations for science communication

Carolina Moreno, project coordinator, presented the conclusions reached by the CONCISE research team after analyzing the data obtained in the citizen consultations in three areas: how citizens are informed, what they consider a reliable source of information and what suggestions do they propose to improve science communication.

Recomendaciones del proyecto CONCISE

Thus, from the analysis, the team verified that citizens demand opening spaces to addressing even the most controversial issues in which science can offer useful recommendations. In addition, they ask for the promotion of science programs on public television, as well as specific training for journalists. Citizens are also demanding an increase in public funding for science and science communication and granting universities and public research centers a more relevant role.

Regarding the reliability of sources, the study has verified how levels of trust vary between countries and individuals. In any case, they tend to view digital media as less reliable with respect to scientific information. At the same time, for citizens, the message is as important as the format: a poorly articulated source of information is perceived as less precise.

In short, the CONCISE team’s recommendations include the need of promoting research centers and researchers to disseminate their results. It is also considered essential to guarantee access to information under equal conditions and to include the transversal importance of science and scientific issues in all subjects during compulsory education. They demand to highlight the relevance of the ‘scientific method’ throughout the educational path to reinforce critical thinking. In addition, CONCISE has highlighted the need to support the creation of a network of science shops that help to debunk fake news that operate “defence systems” to combat pseudosciences and promote scientific facts. Another of the proposed recommendations includes the promotion of a clear and rigorous labeling that allows citizens to make informed choices.

CONCISE team’s recommendations include the need of promoting research centers and researchers to disseminate their results.

A conference on science communication

The Dialogue also counted with the participation of the ReThink and Quest projects. Both projects, also funded by the European Union within the same framework program, aim to delve into the state of science communication in Europe to propose improvements in its efficiency and effectiveness to reach a greater diversity of audiences.

Frank Kupper, coordinator of the ReThink project, explained its objectives: “ReThink aspires to develop resources for science communicators and journalists in order to move to an ecosystem where science communicators don’t tell citizens what to think but rather support dialogue that already exists in society”.

QUEST presentation

On the other hand, Alessandra Fornetti, coordinator of the QUEST project, presented the twelve quality developped by the project that define what is quality in science communication. As the coordinator explained, “QUEST has confirmed the fundamental role that policy can play in promoting quality communication in social networks, media and museums.”

CONCISE policy brief

The analysis of the CONCISE citizen consultations has resulted in some policy briefs that consortium members of each country have developed. They include recommendations to improve the communication of science based on the analysis of the discourse of the participants in the consultations. In each of the documents prepared for each country,

The policy briefs for each country are already available on the project website.

Translation and revision: Amaia Crespo