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Several organizations such as AAAS in USA, The Royal Society in UK or Australian National University have offered science communication training programs. These programs emphasize presentation skills, such as giving public lectures and holding press conferences. In addition to these components, we tried to strengthen such programs by adding training sessions to improve scientists' skills related to public dialogue.
In Japan, recently, science communication activities have been more active especially in big research and development projects in response to social needs.
In this situation, we have developed a "Dialogue Skills Training (DST) program" for early-career scientists. First, we found out psychological barriers against science communication through interviews of 19 young researchers who have participated in the science CafÃ©s (Mizumachi et al., 2011, JCOM). Then, we have developed the DST program to get over these barriers.
The DST program has dealt with the dialogue especially in science cafes and been designed for early-career scientists to be able to
- tell the story about their research outputs and outcomes in context with public needs
- re-consider their research and development in social contexts
- have public sympathy
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), one of the top funding agency in Japan, has promoted the DST program since 2013 and over 200 scientists have been trained, so far. We founded a not-for-profit body "Social Dialogue Skills Laboratory" in 2015, in order to run the DST program all over Japan.
From the view point of science communication research, we have focused on assessing Dialogue Skills, using a rubric, one of the evaluation methods. The rubric we have developed could bring scientists clear criteria or standards for them to easily understand or improve "science communication" skills. We have connected performance description with video clips of actual performances recorded in the Science CafÃ©s.