[ASC-list] Promoting prizes related to communication of science

Rob Morrison rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Thu May 5 01:58:33 UTC 2011


Bobby says:

"Perhaps despite this complexity we should start by trying to document our criteria for excellence, in terms of science communicators doing a job that is particularly worthy of accolade. I think until we set clear benchmarks in all of our communities of practice, it will be continue to be difficult to celebrate and acknowledge when these are surpassed."
In fact I had a go at doing exactly this last year and sent an article for Scope ("What counts in science communication"), inviting contributions from members to see if we could develop the list.

It is now on the website but can be hard to find as, for some reason it shows Laura Miles as the author instead of me, but it is at: http://www.asc.asn.au/2010/08/what-counts/

I wrote it after being a judge for some influential science awards. The other judges had research backgrounds, and clearly knew how to evaluate the research cited, but were lost when trying to evaluate what makes  effective science communication. this is all explained in my prelude to the list.

I had tried it on the executive, and they made some comments which i included, so it has some degree of communal input, but the situation changes yearly, so it can always do with amendments.

Incidentally, we had the launch of the NSWk program in Adelaide last night, with Simon France in attendance to speak about the IA report. I asked about awards, explaining that we are now worse off for specific Science Communication awards than we were when the IA report came out, and I cited this ongoing ASC discussion.  They have a committee looking at awards and, although I plugged hard for the introcduction of awards specifically for science communication (rather than including it within education or research awards), it would be good for ASC to make a more formal proposition, as Simon was very much asking for views and opinions to help develop what comes out of IA.

 Rob

Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

________________________________
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Bobby Cerini [bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au]
Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 3:35 PM
To: list at asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Promoting prizes related to communication of science

I should clarify that my first comments were meant particularly in reference to those of us who are professional science communicators, who are paid to do a good job and who also have the resources and remit to achieve that. I certainly did not mean to imply that all science communicators are in the same boat or that volunteers don’t deserve recognition – they do, and much that is great in science communication in this country has been achieved through their input and sheer hard work.

But, as a volunteer member of National Science Week and ASC committees past, I would also observe that there are degrees of contribution; some more run-of-the-mill than others. Many volunteer activities are still organised and funded centrally, and the benefits to the individual are often quite tangible – valuable experience/networking/opportunities/influence, enhanced reputation and excellent seats at Science Week events can all be good incentives. On the same note, sometimes paid, professionally developed programs are just so good that they deserve to be singled out; stakeholders (of many different sorts) acknowledging what has been achieved is I think entirely appropriate.

Of course awards are always subjective; we can turn to our stakeholders and ask them what stands out and is worthy of award, in order to gauge which work is better, more promising, more valuable or more significant. But in an industry that is so diverse, we are unlikely to get consistent answers! Individually we represent so many different professions: writers, performers, educators, researchers, artists, project managers, broadcasters, designers, presenters, policy makers, administrators and many combinations of the above. Our outputs, impacts and quality benchmarks (not to mention our stakeholders) vary enormously.

Perhaps despite this complexity we should start by trying to document our criteria for excellence, in terms of science communicators doing a job that is particularly worthy of accolade. I think until we set clear benchmarks in all of our communities of practice, it will be continue to be difficult to celebrate and acknowledge when these are surpassed.

Bobby Cerini
PhD Candidate & Consultant in Science Communication

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

The Australian National University
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