[ASC-list] The (blurry?) line between communication and knowledge sharing

Mobile Science Education info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au
Tue Jul 15 15:59:35 UTC 2014

Hi all.


I’m reminded of the old “What is the definition of science fiction?” debate and I think the traditional answer to that one might broadly apply here: “I’m not sure, but I know it when I see it.”


Not too helpful, of course, but I broadly agree with everything Rob Morrison had to say and would add that when organisations/professions start obsessing over micro-management of ever finer distinctions between mere labels I usually see that as an element of elitism creeping in.


I would say that there are some broad distinctions, however. Do you teach science in an education setting, be it a Uni, college, TAFE or school? Then you’re a science teacher when you’re doing that. Are you a journalist covering the science and technology beat? Then you’re a science journalist when you’re doing that. Do you do anything else requiring you to either promote an interest in science of some form or to find ways to distil complex science information into digestible chunks for a non-specialist audience, be they the general public, a government minister, or anything between? Then you’re a science communicator, when you’re doing that. 


I’m comfortable with science communicator being a catch-all term, given that any 2 people can’t even agree on a definition of communication – but know it when they see it.




Lee Harrison

Mobile Science Education


 <mailto:info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au> info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au

 <http://www.mobilescienceeducation.com.au> www.mobilescienceeducation.com.au


0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586


We don’t just entertain – we engage.




From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Sarah Keenihan
Sent: Tuesday, 15 July 2014 12:37 PM
To: Rob Morrison
Cc: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au; Michelle Kovacevic; Jennifer Metcalfe
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] The (blurry?) line between communication and knowledge sharing


Hi everyone,

I do think that the matter of what we call ourselves is an interesting one in that it invites an analysis of who feels like they belong. 

We are called Australian Science Communicators. Does this mean that professionals who don't call themselves 'science communicators' - for example, scientists who do occasional communicating of science to a general audience, or journalists who communicate science every now and then - don't feel part of the scene? 

Would be attract more members, or more conference attendees if we seemed more inclusive/had a different title?

I don't know, just food for thought. 







Sarah Keenihan
PhD | BMedSci | GradDipSciComm

Freelance science writing and editing

mobile | 0419 976 834 

twitter | @sciencesarah

website | http://sciencesarah.wordpress.com/

blog | http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/ 









On 15/07/2014, at 10:44 AM, Rob Morrison wrote:

​For my money, Jenni is spot-on.


Terms like "knowledge-broker" and "wordsmith" grate badly to me, like teachers "interfacing" with their students as they are yet further examples of the jargon-creep that infests so much communication; using jargon and in-group terminology to suggest that what is going on is specialised, highly qualified and somewhat superior. Education is full of this sort of thing, and it makes a lot of bureaucratic communication ludicrous.


You could not get a clearer description of those who communicate science than to call them science communicators. It is direct, accurate and clear.


Admittedly it is also broad, encompassing everything that Michelle lists and more, but you could also say the same of the more pretentious terms, with the added problem that they are as unclear as they are portentous.


Part of our claim is that we can take badly communicated science or difficult science and make it comprehensible. Quite a few of us make our living by doing just that. The old journalistic maxim of making things understandable to an intelligent 10-year-old is a good one to keep in mind. If we start to take the clear description of our own profession and try to turn it into the same kind of bureaucratese that we are supposed to counter, it seems a bit subversive to me, and not a good way to advertise our clarifying and explaining skills.


That said, the term is so broad that we might do well to try to sort out some divisions within it. When I was VP we looked several times at establishing "chapters" in ASC, where people could find other science communicators who shared their particular science communication interests, but that involves further clarification of a good term, not muddying the only one we have.




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


From: ASC-list <asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au <mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au> > on behalf of Jennifer Metcalfe <jenni at econnect.com.au <mailto:jenni at econnect.com.au> >
Sent: Tuesday, 15 July 2014 5:29 AM
To: Michelle Kovacevic; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au <mailto:asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au> 
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] The (blurry?) line between communication and knowledge sharing


I’ve always thought that ‘knowledge broker’ was just a fancy term for communicator…

It was invented to make communication sound more important and palatable to those who don’t value the role properly…


Science communicators have a variety of roles and knowledge broker or manager is just one of those many roles… an important one, especially when facilitating the sharing of knowledge between scientists and others…




Jenni Metcalfe

PhD Student at University of Nottingham, Sociology Dept, UK, Feb-August, 2014

Universitas 21 exchange from the University of Queensland, Australia

Director, Econnect Communication, www.econnect.com.au <http://www.econnect.com.au/> 

Mobile: UK +44 (0) 7473 109 685; or Australia +61 (0) 408 551 866

jenni at econnect.com.au <mailto:jenni at econnect.com.au> 

skype: jenni.metcalfe

twitter: @JenniMet


From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Michelle Kovacevic
Sent: Monday, 14 July 2014 7:17 AM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au <mailto:asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au> 
Subject: [ASC-list] The (blurry?) line between communication and knowledge sharing


Hi ASC-ers,


Over the past few months I've been introduced to the concepts of knowledge management and knowledge sharing, but to be honest I still don't know where the the role of "communicator" ends and "knowledge manager/sharer/broker" begins.


It seems one of the postulated differences is that communication is a "one-way" process of information provision and passive reception, whereas knowledge sharing is more of holistic process, connecting users and producers of information (knowledge? semantics?) so they can co-create a "knowledge product" that serves multiple needs. 


To date, my job as a "science communicator" has involved aspects of writing, editing, multimedia, project management, education, data management, training, PR and research, amongst other things. 


To me, effective communication cannot be defined a passive, one way process if it truly wishes to be effective and I don't think, as a science communicator, I have ever practiced it as such.


Would be keen for the community's thoughts on whether we should be calling ourselves communicators vs when we might be knowledge managers/brokers? Or does it even matter what we call ourselves?







Michelle Kovacevic

Communicator. Educator. Project Manager. Scientist. Creative Thinker.

michellekovacevic.com <http://michellekovacevic.com>  (beta)

Find me on: LinkedIn <https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=66994213>  | Twitter <https://twitter.com/kovamic>  | SlideShare <https://www.slideshare.net/MichelleKovacevic> 

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