KNAW: academic communication not something to be done ‘on the side’

Researchers frequently have too little time to share their knowledge on a broad scale and respond to social issues. KNAW is making recommendations on how this can be improved.

(Photo: Mudassar Iqbal / Pixabay)

Increasingly, researchers are expected to promote their work to the general public. This is important for creating trust in science and can contribute to shared solutions to social problems, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) writes this week.

But that is easier said than done, as many researchers do not have enough time and support to focus on this aspect of their work. Researchers at VU Amsterdam have made a summary of what is currently happening in the field of academic communication and what the impediments are. The main problem, they found, is that academic communication is something that researchers do ‘on the side’ and that performance in this area plays little or no part in their assessment.

Major part
On that basis, a KNAW project group has come up with some recommendations. Academic communication must in any event be a major part of the academic duties, just as it is for research, teaching and academic leadership.

Academic communication should also be part and parcel of every research project, from start to finish, and some of the research budget needs to be set aside for it.

A discipline in itself
Another recommendation is to regard academic communication as a discipline in itself. Researchers who want to become proficient in it must receive training and exchange experiences with other colleagues, so that everyone does not have to reinvent the wheel.

Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf is pleased with the investigation and the recommendations. This spring, he made funds available to set up a national centre for academic communication. If the plans are approved, the centre can go into operation in the autumn of 2024.

In Delft, the master’s in science communication (in full communication design for innovation) is in jeopardy. The programme is no longer welcome at the Faculty of Applied Sciences from next academic year and enrolments have been stopped. The department is looking for new accommodation.

HOP, Hein Cuppen
Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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