Cambridge Analytica sends warning of the need to continue the dialogue between science and society
The Cambridge Analytics scandal has shown that the work of scientists is not neutral. The work of psychologists who designed the questionnaire aimed at profiling Facebook users might have been stellar work in its own right, within the standards of the field. But the way the answers to the questionnaire were later used for the purpose of influencing the political choices of the Facebook users who took the questionnaire, is–to say the least–questionable. This scandal is a case in point to show that there is no better time to continue the dialogue of the role of scientists in society.
After 5 years working as Editor of EuroScientist, I would like to announce that I am now moving on to pastures new to focus on my start-up SciencePOD. It is a digital publishing platform, designed to give people who are not familiar with the requirements of publishing, the little help that they need to create high-quality content telling the story of their research. Precisely, what we have been doing in EuroScientist to establish a dialogue, bridging the gap between science, policy and society.
Unfortunately, EuroScientist does not currently have the necessary resources to be developed to its full potential into a magazine with greater reach and influence. Let’s hope this situation will change in the coming months.
Nevertheless with the immense supplies of goodwill from our readers, we have still managed to build an extended community of EuroScientist readers. On that note, I want to salute the dedication and work of my colleague Gilles Mirambeau, who has been instrumental in building this community despite working on a voluntary basis all along.
It has been a tremendous experience to build a magazine from scratch and run it on very limited resources. We enjoyed witnessing the strong engagement that we generated on the hot topics we have covered over the past five years. These include how austerity policies affected research, the contribution of research to the common good, the trends linked to the uberisation of research, ways of hacking bureaucracy, work-life balance, to name only a few.
Now, I want to leave with this message: it is every scientist’s responsibility to ensure that their work is accessible to the wider scientific community. This requires taking a step back and setting up the scene of your work by placing it in its wider context, using plain language. For those for whom such task is too much of a burden or time consuming, you are not alone. There are many professional science journalists, writers, editors, and communication professionals across Europe, ready to help.
The future belongs to those who can communicate and engage in critical discussions around the hot scientific topics of our time.
So don’t delay, just do your bit to foster greater dialogue beyond your inner research circles.
Photo credit: Edu Lauton on Unsplash
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