Editorial: the shadowlands of science communication in academia — definitions, problems, and possible solutions

Shahzad Gani*, Louise Arnal, Lucy Beattie, John Hillier, Sam Illingworth, Tiziana Lanza, Solmaz Mohadjer, Karoliina Pulkkinen, Heidi Roop, Iain Stewart, Kirsten von Elverfeldt, Stephanie Zihms

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

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Abstract

Science communication is an important part of research, including in the geosciences, as it can benefit society, science, and make science more publicly accountable. However, much of this work takes place in “shadowlands” that are neither fully seen nor understood. These shadowlands are spaces, aspects, and practices of science communication which are not clearly defined and may be harmful with respect to the science being communicated or for the science communicators themselves. With the increasing expectation in academia that researchers should participate in science communication, there is a need to address some of the major issues that lurk in these shadowlands. Here the editorial team of Geoscience Communication seeks to shine a light on the shadowlands of geoscience communication and suggest some solutions and examples of effective practice. The issues broadly fall under three categories: 1) harmful or unclear objectives; 2) poor quality and lack of rigor; and 3) exploitation of science communicators working within academia. Ameliorating these will require: 1) clarifying objectives and audiences; 2) adequately training science communicators; and 3) giving science communication equivalent recognition to other professional activities. By shining a light on the shadowlands of science communication in academia and proposing potential remedies, our aim is to cultivate a more transparent and responsible landscape for geoscience communication—a transformation that will ultimately benefit the progress of science, the welfare of scientists, and more broadly society at large.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalGeoscience Communication
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024

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