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The need for scientists to be able to communicate, and so engage with the public, is as important now, if not even more so, as it was when I chaired the Royal Society's ‘Public Understanding of Science’ committee in the mid-1980s. The final sentence of the Royal Society report was: ‘But our most direct and urgent message must be to the scientists themselves: Learn to communicate with the public, be willing to do so and consider it your duty to do so.’
Fortunately, the need for scientists to communicate is now widely recognised and no longer considered controversial by the scientific community. Indeed, it is now an accepted part of any scientist's activities and there is no longer any stigma for a scientist to be involved in the public communication of science.
In the 25 years since the 'Bodmer Report' kick-started the public understanding of science movement, there has been something of a revolution in science communication. However, despite the ever-growing demands of the public, policy-makers and the media, many scientists still find it difficult to successfully explain and publicise their activities or to understand and respond to people's hopes and concerns about their work. Bringing together experienced and successful science communicators from across the academic, commercial and media worlds, this practical guide fills this gap to provide a one-stop resource covering science communication in its many different forms. The chapters provide vital background knowledge and inspiring ideas for how to deal with different situations and interest groups. Entertaining personal accounts of projects ranging from podcasts, to science festivals, to student-run societies give working examples of how scientists can engage with their audiences and demonstrate the key ingredients in successful science communication.
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