Bringing science beyond academia through the SciComm4all programme
My name is Raquel Branquinho and I’m a researcher at the University of Porto/FLUP. I’m also a science manager and communicator, and a coordination member of Gomes Teixeira Science Academy (GOMA). I strongly believe that science can be used as a catalyst to combat inequalities and as a source of inspiration for education and cultural development. As a researcher and science communicator, I am passionate about fostering scientific literacy among diverse public audiences. Therefore, it came naturally to me to join Native Scientists’ outreach programmes "@Cientista regressa à escola" and "Cartas com Ciência", which were crucial sources of inspiration for my commitment to equitable practice in science communication and public engagement. My professional and academic experiences led me to SciComm4all.
How did SciComm4all emerge?
Today, public participation in science has become more and more imperative because of the role science plays in everyday life. Science belongs to all and is for all, meaning the public necessarily influences science policy, research, and the scientific community more broadly. This highlights the importance of scientific literacy among public audiences, helping to add legitimacy and value to the work of researchers. Science outreach and public engagement also contributes significantly to shaping the relationship between science and society, where universities and their scientists play a crucial role in bridging the gap between science and the public. Nevertheless, scientists continue to face several challenges when it comes to engaging with the public and reaching various sectors of society.
With this in mind, a multidisciplinary international team of scientists and science communicators, whose names are listed alphabetically below, founded the SciComm4all programme. Their aim was to empower the scientific community with crucial strategies for engaging in productive interactions with diverse stakeholders across society, making science digestible regardless of background. The SciComm4all programme was produced within the framework of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action EuroScitizen: 'Building on scientific literacy in evolution towards scientifically responsible Europeans' and will likely provide scientists with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with current science communication guidelines and gain confidence when engaging with different members of society.
Who was involved in SciComm4all?
The SciComm4all international team:
Fanny Bilak (Le Cercle FSER, Paris, France),
Héloïse Dufour (Le Cercle FSER, Paris, France),
Lucia Martinelli (MUSE – Science Museum, Trento, Italy)
Máté Varga (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Genetics, Budapest, Hungary),
Miguel Ferreira (University of Coimbra, Centre for Functional Ecology, Portugal),
Raquel Branquinho (University of Porto, REMA (Research Management & Science Communication Hub) - Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Portugal),
Rita Ponce (Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Departamento de Ciências da Vida, Lisbon, Portugal),
Susana Ambrósio (University of Aveiro, CIDTFF/Department of Education and Psychology, Portugal).
The team was led by Héloïse Dufour and Susana Ambrósio. Many other scientists, researchers and science communicators were involved in the module's translation.
What is SciComm4all and what differentiates it from other science communication programmes?
SciComm4all was developed through a set of animated self-guided learning modules that have been organised in the form of short videos (about 3 minutes each). The innovative format in which the modules are presented (clear and concise) is complemented by background material, tips for further study, an essential bibliography, and a self-assessment tool available at the end of each module.
The videos are available in English with subtitles in other European languages (Albanian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish). They are free of charge and available in an open-access format.
To ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all - from natural sciences to social sciences and humanities - the animated modules were developed avoiding sexist language, graphics, sketch characters and common stereotypes regarding scientists and science, while maintaining accessibility and inclusion.
SciComm4all covers diverse topics such as:
Defining science communication,
How to understand an audience and interact with them,
How to avoid jargon and choose your words well,
How to define the key message and delimit the topic,
How emotions can be used to encourage the key message,
The proper use of science, data and materials,
How to combine scientific expertise and its limitations,
The use of citizen science for public engagement,
How to tackle controversial issues,
How to convey critical thinking skills,
How to be prepared for a video interview,
Writing science news for non-specialists.
More topics will be developed soon.
If you’d like to learn more, you can access SciComm4All here.