Science communication is a lot more than writing a column or giving a lecture now and then. The communication itself also has to be firmly based in sound scientific research, is the message of Professor Ionica Smeets in her inaugural lecture.
Smeets was appointed Professor of Science Communication at Leiden University on 1 July 2015. Her inaugural lecture on 13 May is entitled Reflections on the value of science communication.
In her lecture Smeets advocates more research on science communication. She explains: ‘Science communication is often regarded as a matter of just doing it. That’s not so surprising, because this hands-on aspect is what’s most visible: just think of columns, blogs or lectures at Studium Generale and at the Night of Arts and Science. These are just some of the ways that science is communicated to the public on a daily basis.’
But Smeets believes that these practical activities would benefit from more scientific underpinning. ‘Science communication is often based on gut feelings about what does and doesn’t work. It’s by no means always clear whether you are achieving your aim – which is strange when you consider you’re dealing with scientific issues. I would like to see an evidence-based approach to science communication.’