Science communication activities have been intensified in Japan, and scientists began to realize the significance of communicating their research with the society. In particular, the field of genome science (GS) requires tactful communication skills to deal with its ethical, legal and social issues and to achieve interdisciplinary collaboration between biologists and researchers in other disciplines. To clarify required skills for better science communication, we investigated the 15-year history of Japanese GS community.

Our survey revealed its major shift of attitude from education to dialogue. A typical example is the ‘Genome Square’ event held in 2002 - 2004, which included lectures, panel discussions and exhibition by GS laboratories. In three years, approximately 1300 genome scientists have participated in this outreach event. To render dialogue between scientists and guests more interactive, the way of presentation needs improvement. Researchers should not ‘teach’ but ‘show’ their research to think over the problem together. It would also be effective to present multiple topics, including controversial ones, using small handouts instead of a large poster.

The findings from the historical analysis also included the hardship of biologists to collaborate with researchers from other disciplines, such as computer science or bioethics. Through interviews with genome scientists, we found that this difficulty is attributable to cultural difference between research fields in addition to the gap of basic knowledge and terminology. Each discipline has different interests, purposes, and value standards. Knowledge about such gaps, especially recognizing one’s own biased viewpoint, will reduce friction between different communities. In conclusion, we propose visualization of research cultures to promote interdisciplinary cooperation and to help non-researchers to overview the spectrum of research activities.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Proposals for interactive communication based on the historical analysis of Japanese genome science community

Machiko Itoh   Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University

Ayaka Saka   National Institute of Science and Technology Policy

Masanori Arita   Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo

Terutaka Kuwahara   National Institute of Science and Technology Policy

Kazuto Karo   Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University

Science communication activities have been intensified in Japan, and scientists began to realize the significance of communicating their research with the society. In particular, the field of genome science (GS) requires tactful communication skills to deal with its ethical, legal and social issues and to achieve interdisciplinary collaboration between biologists and researchers in other disciplines. To clarify required skills for better science communication, we investigated the 15-year history of Japanese GS community.

Our survey revealed its major shift of attitude from education to dialogue. A typical example is the ‘Genome Square’ event held in 2002 - 2004, which included lectures, panel discussions and exhibition by GS laboratories. In three years, approximately 1300 genome scientists have participated in this outreach event. To render dialogue between scientists and guests more interactive, the way of presentation needs improvement. Researchers should not ‘teach’ but ‘show’ their research to think over the problem together. It would also be effective to present multiple topics, including controversial ones, using small handouts instead of a large poster.

The findings from the historical analysis also included the hardship of biologists to collaborate with researchers from other disciplines, such as computer science or bioethics. Through interviews with genome scientists, we found that this difficulty is attributable to cultural difference between research fields in addition to the gap of basic knowledge and terminology. Each discipline has different interests, purposes, and value standards. Knowledge about such gaps, especially recognizing one’s own biased viewpoint, will reduce friction between different communities. In conclusion, we propose visualization of research cultures to promote interdisciplinary cooperation and to help non-researchers to overview the spectrum of research activities.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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