I’m writing this on my way back from the British Science Association Science Communication Conference, having had a fun two days meeting other science communicators. There was a good range of topics discussed, from reaching under-served audiences to science comedy to the gap between science communication theory and practice, and several conversations I wish could have lasted longer.
While there were lots of comments on each topic I particularly wanted to flag up one that resonated with me as a relative newcomer (this was the first time I’d attended this conference). It was said (sorry, can’t recall who by and this is me paraphrasing anyway) that we didn’t need to know everything ourselves provided someone in the community knew it, and we knew where to find that knowledge. I know at least one of the other members was feeling a bit bewildered at the conference so perhaps this is something we need to work on.
I’d quite like there to be two things which I don’t think exist so far, although I may of course be mistaken in which case I’d just like pointing to them. Firstly I’d like a list of resources useful to someone starting out in science communication, from advice to how to get involved with different types of events to tips for while you are actually running the event. I’m sure these resources exist all over the web, but it would be quite nice to create a one-stop shop for someone new, as well as possibly pointing out more “advanced” resources for people who are wanting to develop their sci comm activities, especially in relation to the latest sci comm theory.
Secondly I know that it can be quite hard to admit when you don’t know something and need someone to help, particularly when you don’t really know many other people doing that kind of science communication (I’ve been very lucky to meet lots of helpful people very quickly, but not everyone will be that lucky). While there are email lists like psci-com, I was wondering if people starting out would like a less public method of reaching out for help, with their questions going only to a few people with experience of helping people to start in that area. Would people be interested in some sort of list of “mentors” who can effectively help people introduce themselves to the community and find resources and advice for a particular area?
Obviously these are just initial thoughts, I’d love to hear from science communicators both new and old if they think these things would be useful and if they would be interested in helping me set them up. I’m also happy to be told that there are much more sensible ways of going about this too if you disagree. Also please point out any potential issues that we’d have to be wary of – for instance I don’t want to set things up so that there are effectively gatekeepers to the community, nor to make it so that everyone is doing things in exactly the same way, with no room for different views and methods.
Thanks once again to everyone involved for putting on a great conference, and I hope to see lots of you again soon.