Opinion: Finding the plot in science storytelling in hopes of enhancing science communication

“Like the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one around to hear it, science discoveries cannot have an impact unless people learn about them. The act of communication is part and parcel of doing research. And in an era increasingly defined by open access, crowdfunding, and citizen science endeavors, there is a growing demand for researchers to communicate their findings not just within their field—via institutional seminars, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed publications—but to general audiences as well. One of our main endeavors as scientists then, must be to present discoveries about which the public will care….To succeed as science communicators, we must go beyond making the science facts accessible to general audiences….”

Advocacy for Rejuvenation Research is as Much a Process of Documentation as it is a Process of Persuasion – BioscienceNews – LONGECITY

“In this model of human endeavor, knowledge flows outward while funds and newly participating members of the community flow inward – or at least, that is the ideal. In practice, managing this flow of knowledge is a big and thorny problem: many of the most important movements in technology over the last few decades have focused on how to best move knowledge from inner circles to outer circles. Consider the open science movements, fights over closed journal business models, and the many efforts to try to adopt open source practices in the scientific community, to consider but a few examples….The irony of the situation is that documentation isn’t expensive in the grand scheme of things, and certainly not in comparison to earnest clinical development. It doesn’t require more than a few weeks of part-time work for a life scientist, a graphic artist, and an editor to produce a long document that explains exactly how to replicate a demonstrated research result in longevity science – a way to extend life in mice, for example. That document will explain the research in plain English, at length, and in a way clearly comprehensible to people who are not cutting edge scientists: exactly what is needed open the door to a far wider audience for that research. More rather than less of this should be the normal state of affairs, but at present it is not the case….”

Open science | Spotlight

Survey summary

Access to scientific publications is essential to many, because their private or professional lives require them to continually develop themselves. This development is expected of them, as lifelong learning and increasing levels of self-reliance are now a part of life.

Healthcare professionals, for example, must be able to communicate effectively with bodies such as pharmaceutical companies, the National Health Care Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland) and ministries, be able to decipher and contextualise countless news reports, and apply scientific results to their professional situation in a responsible and well-founded fashion. To do so they require comprehensive access to information. In the current situation, organising access costs time and money, which are two scarce commodities.

Teachers also state that they need access to research findings in order to apply them in their teaching. If they are unable to access the latest insights, then who is supposed to benefit from the research?

Other groups in society also indicate that they read scientific publications, in order to conduct in social debate in the home, to learn about diseases or food fads, or to gain background information on studies, for instance.”

Some evidence for the demand for research literature by nonprofessionals A r…

“A recent tweet from @openscience…


…asked me to support my claim in a 2012 interview that “more than 40 percent of the visitors to PubMed Centralcome from non-.edu domains.”


I’m glad to. But the answer is too long for Twitter, or at least I’d like to say more about it than I can fit in a tweet. So I’m giving it here….”

The NIH Public Access Policy (April 2012)

“NO HARM TO PUBLISHERS IS EVIDENT: • Publishers retain up to a 12?month embargo on NIH?funded papers before they are made available to the public without charge under fair use principles. • The Public Access requirement took effect in 2008. While the U.S. economy has suffered a downturn during the time period 2007 to 2011, scientific publishing has grown: – The number of journals dedicated to publishing biological sciences/agriculture articles and medicine/health articles increased 15% and 19%, respectively.5 – The average subscription prices of biology journals and health sciences journals increased 26% and 23%, respectively.6 – Publishers forecast increases to the rate of growth of the medical journal market, from 4.5% in 2011 to 6.3% in 2014.7 …

KEY FACTS ABOUT PMC: • Over 2.4 million articles are now in PMC. In addition to the NIH?funded papers deposited into PMC, publishers voluntarily deposit more than 100,000 papers per year. • Every weekday, 700,000 users access the database, retrieving over 1.5 million articles. • Based on internet addresses, an estimated 25% of users are from universities, 17% are from companies, and 40% from the general public …”


“Can’t access science research publications resulting from your tax dollar? Open Science DB is a mission-driven database led by students in life sciences and engineering. We aim to make research, especially federally funded projects, more accessible to the public by ?providing easy-to-understand summaries of peer-reviewed scientific publications….”

#KeepMarching: How science communication can sustain a movement | PLOS SciComm

“Publish your research with an Open Access publisher. If your study is behind a paywall, or requires a library subscription for access, the public, the press, and politicians are less likely to take an interest your work. It’s hard to communicate the value of your research if the study itself is unavailable….”

Plain-language summaries: Results of the 2016 eLife digest reader survey

“eLife has been producing plain-language summaries – known as eLife digests – for research articles since the journal launched in 2012. The digests are written to explain the background and significance of the research clearly to people outside the field, including other scientists and members of the general public.

Who reads eLife digests? Is there anything we can do to improve them? To help us answer these questions we carried out a survey of our readers in late 2016. We advertised the survey on our website and social media over a six-week period and received 313 responses from readers of eLife digests. As part of our “Plain-language summaries of research” series we now present the results of the survey in detail below….”

Plain-language summaries: Journals and other organizations that produce plain-language summaries | eLife

“As part of our “Plain-language summaries of research” series, we have compiled a list of over 50 journals and other organizations that publish plain-language summaries of scientific research.

Click this link to view the list and find out where you can read these summaries online.

We need your help to keep this list up-to-date. To add a new organization to the list, or to update existing information, please contact us by email at features@elifesciences.org….”

Academics can change the world – if they stop talking only to their peers

“Some academics insist that it’s not their job to write for the general public. They suggest that doing so would mean they’re “abandoning their mission as intellectuals”. They don’t want to feel like they’re “dumbing down” complex thinking and arguments.

The counter argument is that academics can’t operate in isolation from the world’s very real problems.

They may be producing important ideas and innovations that could help people understand and perhaps even begin to address issues like climate change, conflict, food insecurity and disease….”