Why Effective Science Communication Will Boost Agricultural Research for Delivery

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By Verenardo Meeme,Rootooba, 15 May 2020


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  • Researchers often grapple to utilize mass media platforms to communicate their research findings in a form that various audiences will understand. Yet, many research findings hold key information that could contribute immensely to solving the world’s challenges.
  • The effective communication of science concepts enhances the relevance of science to communities and encourages its integration into policy and decision-making, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life.

The demand for research-driven solutions that are practical and affordable is sharply rising amongst interventions aimed at boosting agricultural production. At the heart of this demand are policymakers and farmers who are key to the adoption, scaling, and implementation of innovations in agriculture.

Science communication encapsulates any activity that involves one party transmitting synthesized science-related information to an individual, group, or mass communication. 

Researchers often grapple to utilize mass media platforms to communicate their research findings in a form that various audiences will understand. Many of those research findings hold key information that could contribute immensely to solving the world’s challenges.

The effective communication of science concepts enhances the relevance of science to communities and encourages its integration into policy and decision-making, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life. For instance, science products such as those used in managing devastating Fall Armyworm pests devouring farmers’ maize crops, locust invasions, and aflatoxin contamination of food crops in the African continent need to be effectively communicated to various categories of agricultural value chain actors. 

Chandra Mohan (2010) posits that most articles in newspapers related to science events often depict the content as either too technical or too general, contains little science or distorted facts. The author further observes that a major evaluation criterion for the performance of scientists by their employers is their capacity to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals as opposed to publishing as grey literature and other means of communication. 

While peer-reviewed journals are seen as the gold standard for information sources by many, the style, content representation, and sometimes restrictions imposed by publishers impede their access by the majority of information users. The useful concepts developed by scientists for society are sometimes therefore not apparent to potential users. 

Moreover, not many scientists invest in enhancing their communication skills nor explore an array of dissemination options available and suitable for reaching different target groups because they do not count much in their performance evaluation. 

Over time, with increasing options for information dissemination and increased appetite for knowledge by the general public, scientific outputs are finding their way into mass media channels such as newspapers, television, radio, magazines, and online information dissemination outlets such as blogs, and podcasts. 

Scientists are therefore encouraged to improve their skills in science communication and utilize the existing array of communication platforms to share their innovations. 

Embedding science communication skills and application as one of the key performance evaluation criteria for scientists by employers should also be encouraged. Such approaches will bridge the gap in science communication coverage that is currently weak. Subsequently, the role of research outputs in improving farmers’ well-being will be elevated.  In addition, effective science communication can increase the chances of scientists securing funding for advancing their work.  

References 

H., David. “Three Ways for Scientists to Communicate Their Results of Scientific Research” sciencing.com, https://sciencing.com/three-ways-for-scientists-to-communicate-their-results-of-scientific-research-12758603.html. 22 April 2020.

Chandra Mohan Nautiyal

Radiocarbon Laboratory, BSIP, 53, University Road, Lucknow- 226007.  INDIA

Chandra M. Nautiyal. ‘‘Role of Scientists in Science Communication’’, ResearchGate, July 2010, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250927998_Role_of_Scientists_in_Science_Communication.

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