01 July 2014

Social Scientists

The scientific revolution will be tweeted.

Scientists struggle to find the right ways of communicating their research directly to the general public. For years, they actively avoided doing so, letting their work speak for itself. The approach created challenges for the public's understanding of science, and some participants in the public forum took advantage of scientists' silence, attacking and seeking to discredit science as a discipline. The expanding number of media outlets and social media has also increased the challenges scientists face in communicating their work.

Today's communication landscape contains some useful tools for scientists, however. The same social media that flood public discourse with competing voices can give scientists an outlet and an opportunity to build relationships with the public. Rebecca Searles, a science journalist and editorial director of Experiment.com, which fosters crowdfunding for scientific research, offers some useful ideas for scientists considering engaging with social media. Check out her video below:

In recent years, scientists have seen the need for more active communication and interaction with the general public. For example, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye have prominently defended and advocated for science. Other scientists seem to be following their lead even if many are reluctant to do so. With social media to help them, they can take an important step in connecting everyone with science.

What we need now is for some scientist to take a selfie with a species previously unknown to science.

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