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Scientists need to be more proactive, effective at public communication
Date:5/21/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. Scientists are a valuable and trusted source of information, researchers say in a recent report, but too often do an inadequate job of bringing that information to those who need it in a factual, non-technical, credible and neutral format.

An analysis of science communication as it related to the establishment of "marine reserves" off the California coast offers insights into a more broad-based, sophisticated and effective communication strategy one that could and should be adopted more widely, the authors said.

The report, in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outlined a comprehensive communication strategy that might be applicable not only to marine reserves but other areas of science and natural resource management.

"More effective communication is badly needed at almost every level of science," said Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, a research associate in the Department of Zoology at Oregon State University. "It doesn't have to be expensive, but we have to get out of the ivory tower, away from our scientific jargon and work more closely with our various audiences."

The researchers noted in their report that scientists who see communication as a top-down transmission of information run the risk of alienating key audiences.

Those audiences, they said, include resource users, local and national interest groups, communities, land and resource managers, political leaders and the general public. These groups are diverse; some are well-informed and others less so. They have a wide range of values and opinions, and no single form of communication will be most effective at reaching all of them.

But scientists must try to transcend what is often a combative and politicized atmosphere in resource management discussions, the researchers said, and work to base their statements on peer-reviewed data. They also must present their findings impartially in order to build t
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Contact: Kirsten Grorud-Colvert
grorudck@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-9981
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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