The Accreditation of Science Communication

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Science communication experts do the hard work of filtering through the vast amount of complex scientific knowledge and disseminate topical, current or misunderstood discoveries into palatable releases across multiple media formats. They are responsible for the translation of raw science into a relatable common tongue. A necessary service in today’s scientifically progressive world.

Modern relationships between scientists and outside communities have been becoming increasingly disconnected. Many have been happy with this status quo’ – The scientists make ‘stuff’ and the others use ‘stuff’, with no need or desire to understand the nitty-gritty bits. However, with rapid scientific advancement of technology and the threat of various global environmental issues looming, the need for communication and trust between scientists and the public is essential.

The division between scientists and the public seems to have developed from a misplaced sense of scepticism and distrust towards science. This is not the fault of any single individual however; it is likely a combination of elements. The two which stand out are:
1) The public receive their scientific news from biased sources (political or commercial voices).
2) The information isn’t necessarily made accessible to laypersons, i.e. doesn’t feature in common media formats.

The founding principle of science communication is “to build a strong and open relationship between society and science underpinned by its effective communication of science and its uses” – Inspiring Australia. Science communication professionals value this principle and aim to rectify the identified issues above by producing unbiased, analytical summaries of modern science, made accessible to the public.
Two unofficial divisions of science communication appear to be present – Those aiming to inform other scientists and those aiming to educate society. This field currently seems to favour the former with an insufficiency of effective communication efforts aimed towards delivering unbiased and digestible modern science towards the adult public. I feel this issue needs attention, as the fundamental ideals of science communication are to educate society not just the broader scientific community.

In conclusion, science communication is a powerful medium and has the potential to provide unbiased, analytical summaries of modern science for the public. This profession needs to advance towards offering clear guidelines, regulations and intentions to all practitioners. A governing body awarding accreditation to individuals for example, would provide a bases of trust which would be well received by society and governments. Efforts by organisations such as ‘Australian Science Communicators’ and ‘Inspiring Australia’ already have made progress towards this goal. However, the idea of a uniformly recognised national governing body awarding accreditation is still far-off.

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