Chapter 23 Why write a popular article?

There are many reasons why it is important to communicate science beyond your own discipline and into the wider public forum. Primary among these is that in a society based on decisions made on the basis of science, it is our responsibility as scientists to make sure that we make the findings of our work, upon which basis political decisions are made, understood to the widest of audiences. I do not mean that we are sharing science pejoratively to an ignorant public, but instead as equals in our collective scientific society. We share with a wider public in the same way that we share with those who are used to reading a well reasoned newspaper article, or listening to an informed political debate. By sharing our work, we help affirm that decisions should be made objectively, and we make the most important connection by reaching out to the rest of our society and to join them in the scientific project.

Here are some extra reasons why communicating by writing a popular article might be right for you:

  • Inform tax-payers who funded research what you found
  • Increase profile of your work and you as a researcher
  • Reach other researchers (who also read popular articles)
  • Reach other stakeholders like practitioners or policy makers
  • Open more doors to other potentially cross-disciplinary work
  • Gain new insights into how your work appears to the general public
  • Public communication is a key part of social responsibility, quickly becoming a key aspect of an academic career
  • Maintaining and furthering the Scientific Project

The sooner that you come to terms with the need to communicate your work more widely, the more comfortable you will be when you are contacted by a reporter, a vlogger or someone from TV or radio.