The Interactive Technologies Institute closed the ITI Talks series in 2022 with Joana Lobo Antunes, Head of Communications at Instituto Superior Técnico. During her talk, our guest called for the contribution of researchers to a successful science communication strategy.
Science Communication is all about sharing scientific research with non-specialized audiences, and there are many ways to do it. “One could hire people like Daniel and me to think about science communication, but people actually want to hear from you, ” she claims, based on the European citizens’ knowledge and attitudes towards science and technology survey results.
People want to hear about Science.
According to the same survey, Europeans are generally interested in getting more information about diverse scientific fields. However, most of the information they get access to is related to sports and politics. “People want to hear about Science, and we should use this information in our favour”, she adds.
Joana Lobo Antunes says, “the role of science communicators is to create opportunities to help scientists share their research”, aiming to spark the audience’s interest in becoming a part of the process. “We can not do the omelettes if you do not give us the eggs”, she warns.
As the presentation progressed, Joana started focusing on why researchers should be more involved with society. “We are paid with taxpayers’ money, so we need to give them back the investment made on us. They need to know what we are doing with these chairs, these tables, our time, etc. We need to be publicly accountable”. Joana thinks that putting research out there will help taxpayers realise the value science has, hence justifying the investment made in the scientific community.
How to do Science Communication
Joana Lobo Antunes has made one thing very clear: there is a type of science communication for everyone. Researchers can communicate science independently of their career stages. Novices and experts can write, speak, record video or audio, and even draw. Even the channel is a choice: from social media to institutional websites and science fairs. It all boils down to what researchers are more comfortable with.
She later presented many examples of science communication campaigns developed by Instituto Superior Técnico, in which researchers play a fundamental role. The Interactive Technologies Institute works on exciting research topics that spark the interest of non-scientific audiences. The goal is to start demonstrating our value as a research institute to them.