Communicating with policy makers can feel daunting, but using these tips can set you on the right path toward ensuring your research has an impact.
Our Voice of Young Science members come from all over the UK; read what some of them have been up, what they are working on, and their reactions to our VoYS workshops.
Peter Morris is a PhD Student from the University of Warwick, who attended a Standing up for Science workshop in March 2019 and has written “5 Tips for Communicating Research to Policy Makers” about the experience.
Read the blog in full (4 June 2019)
Britt Hermes is a former naturopath who, since leaving the profession in 2015, has been a vocal critic of the field, which has brought much praise but along with it many objections. As a result of her work, Britt is in the middle of a lawsuit brought against her by Colleen Huber, a naturopath based in the US.
Britt is one of our longer standing VoYS members and she embodies the VoYS ethos by continuing to stand up for science in the face of such adversity. Sanjana talked to Britt about her experience of being sued, her time as a naturopath and the advice she has for early career researchers wanting to enter the public discussion.
Read the interview with Britt in full (27 February 2018)
This initiative from European career network Academic Positions, ran a series on VoYS members and Sense about Science Eu director Sofie Vanthournout, who coordinates VoYS EU.
Join Sense about Science in Asking for Evidence (20 November 2017)
Standing up for Women in Science (23 November 2017)
Making Sense of Science with David Robert Grimes (27 November 2017)
Emily May Armstrong
Emily was at our workshop in Edinburgh and wrote an empowering piece on why it’s important to stand up for science:
It is vital for ECRs to engage, excite, and enlighten the public; however, many ECRs believe they aren’t good enough. We’d much rather refer a journalist after a big break to our supervisor. Well, we are good enough. We have completed three years of broad training, followed by three, or four more years of in-depth, specific, precise, and vigorous training in our field. We are the experts.
Sarah raised some great issues at our Edinburgh workshop:
Little old me with no postgraduate training beyond my BSc (Hons) and in the infancy of my technical career wasn’t sure if it would be suitable for me. But shy bairns get nowt; so I got in touch with the “Sense about Science” team and they replied positively, saying that although the event was primarily aimed at PhD and post-docs, if I applied I would definitely be considered. I think the lesson here is don’t feel limited (particularly when it comes to science communication) because you are a technician.
Chas Nelson was at our University of Edinburgh Standing up for Science workshop and had a great blog published the same day:
I think a lot of the rest comes with experience, talking to those who have experience in engaging the media, talking to those in the media. So, those of us in science who have yet to do so: why not dig in? Why not get involved in campaigns like Ask for Evidence? Or highlight bad science or reporting by contacting the reporters/outlets involved? Or, just as a start, why not attend a similar session yourself?
Read Chas’ take on the workshop on his blog. (22 September 2017)
Rebecca was at our Standing up for Science workshop at the University of Warwick. She explores the day in a three part series on her blog:
This workshop aimed to help early career researchers make their voices heard in public debates about science by hosting panel discussions with scientists and science journalists who talked about how to effectively engage with the media about science and research.
Part two focuses on the journalist session. (7 July 2017)
David came to our first Standing up for Science workshop in Brussels; with a focus on “Communicating your research to policy makers and journalists”:
This workshop was really a great way for me and other EU researchers to get tips for communicating with policy makers and journalists. I am sure these recommendations will be useful in my potential future contacts with policymakers and journalists.
David writes about the workshop for Taylor & Francis. (6 July 2017)
Adam was interested in peer review and came to our London workshop. He wrote for Taylor & Francis, and the Social Metwork on his experience as an early career researcher:
Ensuring I have a thorough understanding of the peer review process enables me to defend and explain the scientific process to the public.
Science and the media, James shares the advice for young researchers from our media workshop at the University of Manchester:
The workshop was informative and valuable and I’d recommend taking a look, getting involved and taking advantage of what Voice of Young Science has to offer.
Jade was at our Standing up for Science workshop in April. Take a look at what she took from the day:
We believe that there are people with more expertise than us. However, a PhD is such a niche topic of research that we dedicate a substantial portion of our lives to, and whilst we’re doing that research we are, in actual fact, probably the world leading expert on that topic (thanks to Sofie, director of Sense about Science EU, for highlighting that point). We are perfectly qualified to provide our expert voice, and we shouldn’t forget that.
An early career researcher’s take-home tips on peer review, from research assistant Dr Clara Calia:
Everybody who is starting out in research or is simply interested in science should have the opportunity to participate in this kind of discussion!
Clara writes for Elsevier on our November peer review workshop. (20 February 2017)
Connor Bamford and Joanna Crispell
Connor and Joanna talk about the practical tips of working with the media that they took from our Standing up for Science workshop in Glasgow:
We would recommend it to every scientist, especially those at an early stage in their career.
Dugald came to our peer review workshop in Glasgow, writing about the event and his take-home messages:
Even scientifically trained minds are not completely free from unscientific thinking and bias, and recognising this will ensure that peer review develops into a positive and effective tool.
Read Dugald’s blog for F1000. (18 January 2017)
Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis Author Services spoke to early career researchers at our Standing up for Science workshop. They captured responses from some of the early career researchers who attended:
“I was really interested in a comment made by the panel about keeping in mind two or three points you want to make when being interviewed. When I spoke on the radio I had perhaps 45 seconds of airtime and trying to get across four years of research in that timeframe was a challenge! I was also interested to hear from the journalist panel and how they are keen for researchers to come to them rather than the other way, that was definitely encouraging.” – Stephanie Wright
Hilary J Anderson
Hilary is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow and attended our Glasgow media workshop:
It has been my experience that journalists are portrayed as only interested in making headlines rather than to invest in your work. However, after this panel discussion, thankfully my attitude has been changed!
Read Hilary’s blog on the Centre for Cell Engineering website. (5 December 2016)
Dr Federica Giordani
Federica is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow and attended our Glasgow peer review workshop. She writes for the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology on the good and bad of the peer review system:
Peer review is the process by which the contribution of a piece of research is assessed by independent experts in the field before being published in an academic journal. It is a practice of quality-control that aims to make sure that only the most rigorous research is published.
Read Federica’s article: Behind the research: What is the peer review system? (15 November 2016)
Kate, British Institute of Radiology (BIR) member attended our London media workshop:
I often get annoyed at the coverage of science in the media and the misuse of statistics and results. Recently, the Brexit “debate” has left me ranting at friends, and I often find myself defending junior doctors on social media. When I received the email from BIR advertising the media workshop, it struck me as an opportunity to learn what I could do to positively influence the public perception of science, and to hear first-hand from journalists about their involvement.
Olivia, visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine writes about how science communication can save lives:
As an epidemiologist, the way I communicate with communities impacts my ability to assess risk, understand trends and set up control measures. These skills are integral to my personal development and to public safety. After witnessing the societal impact of misinformation during the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa firsthand, I quickly recognized the necessity to develop these skills further. Therefore, when I heard the charity Sense about Science was running a Standing up for Science media workshop, I didn’t hesitate to get involved, and went along to learn techniques to address scientific misconceptions and better communicate evidence to a wider audience.
Read Olivia’s article in Elsevier on why science communication matters. (13 October 2016)
Haafizah, Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) member writes about challenging bad science in them media:
So, here’s a question… What do you do when you see science based headlines in the news? Do you accept the story because it’s filled with facts and figured? Do you totally disregard it because no doubt it’s been sensationalised? Or are you somewhere in the middle of that spectrum? Can you spot bad science – what do you do about it?