AACF 2019: Communication in the scientific field

20 February 2019

The major challenges of today’s scientific research remain those of the accessibility of the message. In other words, how can we communicate in order to enable the public, the main recipient of research results, to perceive its content? It this problem that 35 communication practitioners of the Wellcome Trust have tried for three days to find solutions. It was on the occasion of the 2nd Annual Africa Asia Communication Forum in Durban, South Africa.

For a scientific message to effectively reach its target, it must meet certain criteria: to convey it and find the appropriate message (i), to clearly define the communication objectives (ii), the communication channels (iii).

1- Know your target audience and know how to choose your message

A communication that meets the public’s desire. It is about assessing and analyzing the needs of the public in advance and communicating accordingly.

Provide information that is related to their lives. For example, disclosing the means of preventing a disease, providing a vaccine or announcing the outbreak of an epidemic and the means of protecting oneself.

We must also create platforms for interaction between researchers and the public for a two-way system. To carry out this action, we need to make contributions to community leaders who will be in charge of raising awareness in their community. And if it is possible to translate scientific messages into local languages in order to reach illiterate people as well.

2- Clearly define the communication goals:

Establish in the first place a strategy that highlights the objectives to be achieved through a communication action. For example, for a vaccination campaign, how many people live in the area? How many people are already vaccinated? how many people are old and/or in need of this vaccine? How many people want to participate in this campaign? Are there any administrative or local authorities that could provide support to ensure the sustainability and monitoring of the populations?

3- Communication channels :

Scientific communication requires collaborative work between researchers, policy-makers, policy commitments and the press. It is a chain work in which each member plays the role of an informant.

The researcher: he must make his research results available to the communication department (political facilitator and communication officer).

The policy maker: He/she must seek policy endorsement in the application of the research results. He plays a facilitatory role in public relations.

The communication manager: is in charge of press relations, site animation and social networks. he/She must create and consolidate a partnership with the local and international press so that journalists can relay information to reach a large number of people.

In the management of its website and social networks, the content offered must be diversified and adapted to each type of medium.

For example: articles and interviews for the site, photos and videos for facebook and finally short but precise messages with hashtags for an easy referencing on Twitter.

All this must be done to highlight the work of researchers but above all to get closer to the population.

The researcher has an interest in communicating on these actions. Inaction on his part could lead others to do so, resulting in misinformation to the public.



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