Scientists in the 21 st Century not only have the responsibility to advance the state of scientific knowledge, but also to communicate that knowledge to a variety of attentive publics. The level of governmental and public support for research as a whole, as well as support from within the peer community for individual research programs is strongly correlated with scientists’ ability to accurately and clearly explain both the advancement of knowledge and the implications of their research on a broader scale. Historically, the skills required to perform effective science communications have not been taught as a part of the training of scientists, and the culture of science has traditionally been one of aversion to significant communication beyond the peer community or outside the peer-review process. Thus scientists can find themselves ill-equipped and uncomfortable with the requirements of their job in the new millenium.
     

At the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, we have developed and implemented an integrated science communications process to help scientists better communicate new knowledge and technology to audiences beyond the traditional peer community, and to facilitate better communications within the peer community. This integrated process provides an institutional capability to help scientists accurately convey the content and meaning of new scientific knowledge to a wide variety of audiences, while still maintaining the integrity of the peer-review process. The process utilizes initial communication through the world-wide-web at the site http://science.msfc.nasa.gov as a mechanism to strategically leverage other communications vehicles and to reach a wide-variety of audiences, including the science-attentive public, mainstream media (print, internet, radio, and television), educators, and government.
     

In this work, we present and discuss the basic design of the science communications process, now in operation for nearly two years, serving scientists in Earth Science, Microgravity Research, and Space Science. Critical features of the design are illustrated, and essential skills required to operate the process are defined. Measures of success will also be presented.
 

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The integrated science communications process at the NASA Marshall space flight center

John Horack   NASA - Marshall Space Flight Center

Deborah Treise   University of Florida

Scientists in the 21 st Century not only have the responsibility to advance the state of scientific knowledge, but also to communicate that knowledge to a variety of attentive publics. The level of governmental and public support for research as a whole, as well as support from within the peer community for individual research programs is strongly correlated with scientists’ ability to accurately and clearly explain both the advancement of knowledge and the implications of their research on a broader scale. Historically, the skills required to perform effective science communications have not been taught as a part of the training of scientists, and the culture of science has traditionally been one of aversion to significant communication beyond the peer community or outside the peer-review process. Thus scientists can find themselves ill-equipped and uncomfortable with the requirements of their job in the new millenium.
     

At the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, we have developed and implemented an integrated science communications process to help scientists better communicate new knowledge and technology to audiences beyond the traditional peer community, and to facilitate better communications within the peer community. This integrated process provides an institutional capability to help scientists accurately convey the content and meaning of new scientific knowledge to a wide variety of audiences, while still maintaining the integrity of the peer-review process. The process utilizes initial communication through the world-wide-web at the site http://science.msfc.nasa.gov as a mechanism to strategically leverage other communications vehicles and to reach a wide-variety of audiences, including the science-attentive public, mainstream media (print, internet, radio, and television), educators, and government.
     

In this work, we present and discuss the basic design of the science communications process, now in operation for nearly two years, serving scientists in Earth Science, Microgravity Research, and Space Science. Critical features of the design are illustrated, and essential skills required to operate the process are defined. Measures of success will also be presented.
 

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