Linking research and practice

Econnect’s monthly newsletter was recently about science communication research linking with practice. Seems relevant to our discussions. My article reprinted below:

Using all the science communication models in practice

By Jenni Metcalfe

Researchers have theorised three models of science communication: the deficit model, where scientists provide the latest facts through one-way communication; the dialogue model, where scientists converse about their research through two-way communication channels; and the participatory model where lay people are involved along with scientists in deliberating about or doing the science.

With lessening public support for science and increasing concern about new technologies, science communication scholars have urged policymakers and practitioners to move away from deficit forms of communication.

At the end of the last century we saw increasing attempts to engage people in dialogue activities about science. More recently we’ve seen calls for more participatory science communication.

My research using the Climate Champion farmer program as a case study demonstrates that we need all forms of science communication.
Climate champion farmers:

  • Wanted to hear the last climate science from researchers at the biannual workshops we organised – deficit model.
    The information I gained is that the Bureau can be very confident in their prediction of a strong La Niña or a strong El Niño event, but less so when it is in the middle. Understanding that their tools and modeling are getting more and more sophisticated also gives us more confidence in making decisions around it
    (Joe Keynes – sheep, cattle, crop producer – Mt Lofty ranges in South Australia)
  • Valued the conversations they had with researchers, as did the researchers with them – dialogue model.
    The conversation between farmers and researchers is valuable, because it’s a two-way communication – as much as we learn how to use forecasting tools, they learn what they need to refine them
    (Michael Waring, sugarcane grower in North Queensland)
  • Participated with researchers in testing ideas and research products, and creating new knowledge – participatory model.
    Our original list of variables we intended to analyse changed dramatically after talking with climate champions. The way we presented our research results also benefited significantly from communication with climate champions”
    (Bureau of Meteorology researcher).