How academics can engage with policy: 10 tips for a better conversation

How academics can engage with policy: 10 tips for a better conversation
Academics need to look at different ways they can communicate their research to policymakers, says Matthew Goodwin –here’s his advice on not wasting their time, or yours.

UPDATEExperts and experimental government [5/4/2013, GUARDIAN]

The idea of giving a clever man a desk in Whitehall is outdated, argues Geoff Mulgan in the third of our series on scientific advice. We need to take seriously the evidence about evidence

Consultation “Integrating activities” results are published!

The aim of “Integrating activities” is to provide a wider and more efficient access to, and use of, the research infrastructures existing in EU Member States, Associated Countries, and at international level when appropriate.

The consultation addressed stakeholders, i.e. operators of research infrastructures and user communities, in a bottom-up manner, in order to map possible future topics of Integrating Activities.

Research infrastructures are defined here as facilities, resources, systems and related services that are used by research communities to conduct top level research in their respective fields. This definition covers: major scientific equipment or sets of instruments, as well as knowledge-containing resources such as collections, archives and thematic data infrastructures, together with the associated human resources. Research infrastructures may be “single-sited”, “distributed”, or “virtual” (the service being provided electronically).

Results of the Consultation on possible topics for future activities for integrating and opening existing national research infrastructures are now published!

Research Data Alliance launch – my storifys of days 1, 2 and 3

[View the story “#RDAlaunch – day 1” on Storify]

[View the story “#RDAlaunch day 2” on Storify]

[View the story “#RDAlaunch – day 3” on Storify]

You can also find the programme here

The forgotten sense of “science policy”

In the absence of a science policy textbook, I would like to ask the scholars of science policy to forgive me for doing an online search for its definition. In fact, I invite them to comment to this post with a more scholarly definition.

In the meantime I have found the following definitions of science policy online. According to wikipedia:

Science policy is an area of public policy concerned with the policies that affect the conduct of the science and research enterprise, including the funding of science, often in pursuance of other national policy goals such as technological innovation to promote commercial product development, weapons development, health care and environmental monitoring [SENSE 1]. Science policy also refers to the act of applying scientific knowledge and consensus to the development of public policies [SENSE 2].

A Royal Society of Chemistry report defines it as:

Science policy is quite a broad term, encompassing not only areas in which science can help achieve policy goals [SENSE 2], but also areas in which policy itself influences science, for instance funding [SENSE 1].

Continue reading

NERC Booklet updated: Science into policy – Taking part in the process

This booklet aims to help NERC staff and NERC-funded scientists to:
– recognise the relevance of their science to policymakers and engage with science-to-policy activities from the outset;
– Identify opportunities, routes and best practice to inform policy-making, including opportunities to feed into NERC’s corporate science-to-policy activities;
– communicate science in an appropriate and accessible way, to the right policy-makers, showing how it fits their needs.
We have used case studies to illustrate the different approaches described, and drawn out reasons for success, where appropriate, as learning points.

Beautiful booklet by UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) advising how scientists can help shape public policy.

Responsible Innovation – some additional interesting links

Following a previous post on responsible innovation I found some additional interesting links:

A new old definition of Responsible Innovation by Hilary Sutcliffe (12/3/2013) see also her MATTER report

Less Innovation, More Inequality By EDMUND S. PHELPS (24/2/2013)

Scientists ‘need responsible research evaluations’ T. V. Padma (18/7/2013)

A video of Xavier Pavie on Responsible Innovation at the World Climate Congress Dublin

Xavier Pavie – Responsible Innovation – World… par xpavie

A link to the DG Research workshop on Responsible Research & Innovation in Europe (May 2011).

Book of abstracts at the Book of abstracts 2nd Conference on RESPONSIBLE INNOVATION 13-14 December 2012, The Hague, The Netherlands.

A link to a European Project KARIM, the Knowledge Acceleration and Responsible Innovation Meta-network, aimed at facilitating knowledge transfer across North West Europe (NWE).

See also Rene von René von Schomberg’s Responsible Research and Innovation matrix and a commentarty on that.

UPDATE: The article of Catie Lichten “Taking responsibility” in ResearchEurope looks at the recent Commission report to find how links are forged between societal needs and funding for scientific advances. [21/03/2013]

UPDATE2: I just found the channel on daily motion of the French Embassy in the UK that organised a conference on responsible innovation. You can find the videos here: [30/04/2013]

UPDATE3: I was told by a lovely reader of this blog about a book that came out recently called “Responsible Innovation: Managing the Responsible Emergence of Science and Innovation in Society”  We get free access to the first and second chapters and here is the review of the book [03/07/2013]

Science Is Vital strikes again

Yesterday a letter was sent to The Telegraph by the Science Is Vital campaign.

This was accompanied by an article in the same newspaper “Spend more on science or fall behind G8” by Stephen Adams.

And another article was written in the Guardian “Science funding: time to reverse the decline” by three founders of the Science Is Vital campaign, Jenny Rohn, Stephen Curry and Richard P Grant.

Finally, see article on the campaign website for data.

Please also see a recent Guardian article “Does the UK need to spend more on basic research?” by Kieron Flanagan

Computing metaphors and synthetic biology

The metaphors of computers and computing were very popular in the debate on synthetic biology, especially in quotes from scientists; the language was rich in codes, booting up, software, hardware, programming, executing and tagging. Venter says “it’s pretty stunning” to replace the DNA software in a cell.

“The cell instantly starts reading that new software, starts making a whole different set of proteins, and within a short while all the characteristics of the first species disappear and a new species emerges from the software that controls that cell going forward.”(Munro 2010)

Previously, “reading” was done by researchers or computers, while now it seems that cells do the reading and function as software, a chaining of metaphors that is quite novel in a media context.
While in the debate about the human genome the only parts of the computer/computing metaphor were those of codes and soft-ware (Nerlich and Hellsten 2004), in the debate on synthetic biology the metaphor was extended to cover booting up, tagging and executing, all new uses of themetaphor.

Really interesting article on Synthetic biology: building the language for a new science brick by metaphorical brick by Iina Hellsten and Brigitte Nerlich.