Results of publicly funded scientific research should in principle be released and explained to the nation. The nation is the taxpayer; it means it is the research investor. The investor has the right to know of information which helps them to determine the appropriateness of both past and future investment. Therefore, researchers receiving public money are responsible for explaining the research results to the public. It is a response to public mandate and one of the social responsibilities. Responsibilities like this concept are emphasized in the Japanese government documents and science communities. The main reason for this movement is the increase in publicly funded R&D spending under the Japanese government slogan; "realizing a nation based on creativity of science and technology". The purpose of our research is to figure out the attitudes of Japanese researchers toward explaining to the public about their research results when research is publicly funded. When explanations are created, the creator should give priority to the public demands because they are the investor. However, that is not enough. The creator has to consider the attitudes and preference of researchers preventing them from trying to reach unrealistic goals. The plan that researchers prioritize explanations to the public over their profession, research, is unrealistic because it is natural that researchers want to concentrate on their research. The presentation is based on a survey of researchers across Japan conducted by the authors in 2007. The authors also use another public survey across Japan in 2006 to compare the results. The results show that almost all researchers recognize the fact that they are responsible when they are supported by public funds. However, it also shows that the concept of responsibility is not realized in their mind to put it into explanatory actions. We also found four groups of researchers that are different in willingness to explain and respect to the public. We should create explanations to make research based on responsibility.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Attitudes of researchers toward explaining to the public about their research results

Yuko Shimabayashi   Japan Science and Technology Agency(JST)

Torii Hiroyuki   Tokyo Institute of Technology

Results of publicly funded scientific research should in principle be released and explained to the nation. The nation is the taxpayer; it means it is the research investor. The investor has the right to know of information which helps them to determine the appropriateness of both past and future investment. Therefore, researchers receiving public money are responsible for explaining the research results to the public. It is a response to public mandate and one of the social responsibilities. Responsibilities like this concept are emphasized in the Japanese government documents and science communities. The main reason for this movement is the increase in publicly funded R&D spending under the Japanese government slogan; "realizing a nation based on creativity of science and technology". The purpose of our research is to figure out the attitudes of Japanese researchers toward explaining to the public about their research results when research is publicly funded. When explanations are created, the creator should give priority to the public demands because they are the investor. However, that is not enough. The creator has to consider the attitudes and preference of researchers preventing them from trying to reach unrealistic goals. The plan that researchers prioritize explanations to the public over their profession, research, is unrealistic because it is natural that researchers want to concentrate on their research. The presentation is based on a survey of researchers across Japan conducted by the authors in 2007. The authors also use another public survey across Japan in 2006 to compare the results. The results show that almost all researchers recognize the fact that they are responsible when they are supported by public funds. However, it also shows that the concept of responsibility is not realized in their mind to put it into explanatory actions. We also found four groups of researchers that are different in willingness to explain and respect to the public. We should create explanations to make research based on responsibility.

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

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