Scientists face barriers to engaging with public, but still participate in outreach

Although scientists face a number of significant barriers to public outreach, some still engage in these activities, especially women and those with children, according to work published May 9 in the open access journal PLoS ONE, “How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach.”

The study authors found that having children was positively correlated with participation in outreach activities; most of the activities study participants were involved in targeted school-aged children.

Some of the hurdles academic scientists face include the perceptions that research, not outreach, should be their top priority in their role as academics, and that participating in outreach may hurt their research output. Also, some say that the public’s disinterest or even opposition to learning about science discourages them from trying to engage in this type of outreach.

“These scientists perceive significant barriers to outreach at an individual level, within their institutions, and from the general public,” said study lead author Elaine Ecklund of Rice University in Texas. “And though they think their departments and universities value research productivity over all else, these academic scientists still engage in outreach activities.”

Anne E. Lincoln of Southern Methodist University and Sarah James of Rice University were collaborators in this study. Lincoln is an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Sociology.

The study was conducted with funding from the National Science Foundation.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see www.smu.edu.

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.

This entry was posted in Culture, Society & Family, Learning & Education, Researcher news and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About Margaret Allen

EA-PubAffairs(Periodicals)