What Students in Clinical Research Training Can Expect from the Future of Scientific Communication

What if science wasn’t public knowledge? Without scientific communication, it very well might not be. Scientific communication is the system of disseminating scientific discoveries, updates and arguments to the public. Scientific communication serves to raise awareness of topics related to science through different methods of education within various communication channels. While the practice of scientific communication has existed since the 19th century, today the field is changing as technology, social media, and new societal understandings are transforming how scientific information is related to the public.

If you’re considering a career in the field of clinical research, understanding how scientific communication is changing will help you to gain some insight into the ways that your work is passed on to the public. Read on to discover the history of scientific communication, and how this practice will look in the future.

The History of Scientific Communication Explained for those in Clinical Research Careers

While scientific experiments were conducted and discoveries made long before the 1800s, it was not until then that science began to become more publicly accessible knowledge. This was largely due to both the lack of public funding for the science, and the fact that science was typically funded by (and only accessible to) exclusive groups. Science gradually became publicized in the 1800s due to: 

  • The rising middle class
  • The invention of technologies like the steam locomotive and conveyor belt, which enhanced public appreciation for the sciences
  • The professionalization of science within universities and public institutions

Scientific communication began to grow as a field after the 1900s, and today, it has become extremely valuable as a way to increase public awareness of scientific topics, such as the work of those in clinical research careers

Scientific communication began to grow as a field after the 1900s

Scientific Communication Will Be More Present on Social Media

With the rise of social media, smartphones, and access to technology, the future of scientific communication is changing, moving beyond traditional media organizations, scientific journals, and textbooks to broader, more diverse channels. STEM communicators are now using platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to show their work to wider audiences. There are many benefits to the use of social media for scientific communication, including;

  • Ability to reach greater audiences, including younger generations
  • The creation of more engaging content, such as photographs, videos, and games
  • Allows audiences the opportunity to ask questions
  • The shift from the use of scientific jargon to language that the public can understand
  • The formation of online communities who share similar research interests

In the future, scientific communication professionals are predicting a greater usage of media such as podcasts, videos, and YouTube and Instagram “live” feeds to disseminate information. These platforms are rising in popularity, and they give the public a chance to access discussions among scientists, ask questions and generally engage with the content. For professionals with clinical research training, these channels pose an opportunity to raise awareness about the work they’re doing within the field of research and development.

Social media is becoming more widely used as a way to disseminate scientific information

The Field May See a Shift Toward Intersectionality

While scientific communication’s shift to social media has been praised by many, some within the scientific community have expressed concerns about the lack of diversity and inclusion within these social media channels. Proponents of a more inclusive, intersectional, and equitable field are finding that the current scientific communication practice contains:

  • A lack of inclusion of the voices and knowledge of marginalized communities
  • Implicit and explicit biases toward Western science as a universal practice
  • Inadequate efforts to incorporate and encourage the perspectives of the audience engaging with the content

In the future, scientific communication may experience a shift toward greater intersectionality

In the future, it’s likely that the field of scientific communication will shift to become more inclusive and intersectional, making a greater effort to engage with perspectives from other cultures and reduce barriers to access within STEM. While scientific communication may be changing now, it’s likely that in the future this field will undergo many more transformations.

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