Scientists face barriers to engaging with public, but still participate in outreach

May 09, 2012

Although scientists face a number of significant barriers to public outreach, some still engage in these activities, especially women and those with children, according to work published May 9 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The study authors found that having children was positively correlated with participation in outreach activities; most of the activities study participants were involved in targeted school-aged children.

Some of the hurdles academic scientists face include the perceptions that research, not outreach, should be their top priority in their role as academics, and that participating in outreach may hurt their research output. Also, some say that the public's disinterest or even opposition to learning about science discourages them from trying to engage in this type of outreach.

"These scientists perceive significant barriers to outreach at an individual level, within their institutions, and from the general public," said study lead author Elaine Ecklund of Rice University in Texas. "And though they think their departments and universities value research productivity over all else, these academic scientists still engage in outreach activities." Anne E. Lincoln of Southern Methodist University and Sarah James of Rice University were in this study.

Explore further: Only 1 in 7 Japanese scientists are women: study

More information: Ecklund EH, James SA, Lincoln AE (2012) How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36240. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036240

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Many top US scientists wish they had more children

Aug 08, 2011

Nearly half of all women scientists and one-quarter of male scientists at the nation's top research universities said their career has kept them from having as many children as they had wanted, according to a new study by ...

Academic inventors critical to American innovation

Feb 22, 2012

In an article published in Volume 13 Number 3 of Technology and Innovation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors, Richard Maulsby, associate commissioner for innovation and development for the USPTO's Office of ...

What sort of youth centers do young people really want?

Nov 04, 2011

Fifty secondary school children will debate the question 'If young people had more choice and control over the money spent on youth services, would they set up traditional youth centres?' Recent research at the University ...

Explaining Nanotech

Feb 27, 2006

Who will operate the nanotechnology factories of the future? Will the public be able to make informed decisions about new nanometer-scale products and services? Will tomorrow’s nanotechnology industry face ...

Recommended for you

Japan stem cell body splashes cash on luxury furniture

Apr 14, 2014

A publicly-funded research institute in Japan, already embattled after accusing one of its own stem cell scientists of faking data, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer Italian furniture, reportedly to use up ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...