Who has the Monopoly on Science Communications? You Do!

Most often you have to read everything, right to the end, to find the answer. Not today. If you have an advanced degree in science, start a blog. Translate research to practice. Read more only if you wish to get the details.

The International Life Sciences Institute – North America had, Dr Ivan Oransky, Editor at Reuters Health and co-founder of RetractionWatch and EmbargoWatch, speak at its annual meeting.

@ivanoransky informed the audience that in 1989 there were 95 papers with weekly science sections. In 2005, the number dropped to 34. At the end of 2012, the number was 19. He also said that only 8% of journalists covering US health and medicine are ‘life sciences’ majors. Only 13% have a degree in communications.

Let me reiterate. If you have an advanced degree in science, you CAN help translate science from peer-review journals into practice. This is especially important in nutrition and food because: 1) we all eat, 2) there are so many misconceptions, and 3) there is so much misinformation.

I have often hear scientists state (complain) that journalists twist their words and misrepresent their research findings. Actually, that is not true. It may have been somewhat true, arguably, in the time of Franz Ingelfinger when he established the Ingelfinger Rule at the New England Journal of Medicine (1969).

But this archaic rule is becoming anachronistic in 2013. Today we live and work in a world of social media. If you as a scientist are rubbing your hands together and bemoaning misrepresentations by ‘the media’, you are choosing to be a victim. More importantly, you are part of the problem; not part of a solution.

Embrace social media. Clearly, the tides are shifting. We are fortunate to live at a time when influence is becoming personal. Find your voice. Empower yourself. Each of us has the opportunity and the tools to reach others via social media. Those with advanced degrees have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help provide insight and reason to complex issues.

Become an independent blogger of health and science like HealthNewsReview. Register a blog with ScienceSeeker. Become a voice for your profession, like KevinMD. Or begin to muse on the intersection of science, medicine and culture. Follow in the path of @daviddespain who writes “Evolving Health: food, nutrition and medicine“.

The world is yours to influence. Don’t wait for an employer to approve your communication plan. Claim your voice. State your goals and inspirations. Be yourself. Most importantly, be transparent. Make the world a more informed place tomorrow.

About Michael McBurney

Personal Blog | Nutrition scientist with broad interests, including social media and the impact of open access journals on science publishing | Self-employed freelancer
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