The Long Road of Scientific Communication (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla PhD)
Last week I received an email asking if I would talk about my activity outside academia for a radio interview. The radio program is called “Walking through Science” part of the activities carried out by the Spanish Association of Returned Scientists.
The interviews focus on scientists whom have returned to Spain after building some experience abroad and can bring some new ideas about how to survive working outside academia.
I must admit how surprising irony did feel for me to be asked for since I have been claiming the lack of economic or institutional support throughout all my publications. And yet, I must admit, it feels good to be noticed, even though I would rather prefer for my work to be the centre of attention and some type of recognition and not just over the fact of being alive. (I don´t really know what type of research was made in order to choose me for the interview but the week before I noticed some recurrent visits to my blog from the University of Sevilla with regard to the publications over the “drops of weather”, “the roller-coaster of temperatures at the Iberian peninsula” and “the follow-ups on the Polar Jet Stream”. Would both things be related? We will see in the time an article gets published, 4 months …).
In this interview I was asked about my previous experience and my actual situation.When I tried to explain what is that I was doing with my blog and participation at LinkedIn it was not easy to justify the value of it.
That is why it helps to have public recommendations, feedback and comments associated with this blog, either here and at my profile in LinkedIn, so other people become aware of the value of making an effort to take science outside from ivory towers and make it tangible, functional for everyone.
From the previous publication:
|Just Thinking on Climate (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD)
The human attitude towards nature is that we can domesticate nature as if nature needs to be domesticated to survive. When in fact, we, as specie, are the one who has grown and evolved thanks to the state of nature before we even appeared in this planet.
This attitude has to change if we want to change the course of our history, and science and scientists have to learn forms to engage with the rest of society in order to make this change a common goal. Those who call themselves outsiders, or inadequate to understand what science is talking about play a role in this change as important as the scientist affiliated to the highest institution, because the reality of our own evolution is relying on all members of our society despite education or social status.
It is not that every member of our society “has to be educated enough to understand science. But science has to be able to spark the curiosity required to be willing to learn the simplicity and usefulness of knowing.”
|November 30, 2016|
Scientists wolves to scientists
The challenges of introducing science into society are many. And most of them are not about how to prepare society to receive science, but for the community of scientists to show that they are worth of being received.
|From the publication
“It is a frequent practise to ask candidates in a job interview on how do they feel about challenging the establishment. However, I would be curious about the answer given by the same institutions if they were asked on how do they feel about defending and giving support to those facing a situation which challenges the establishment.
What happens when neither the candidate nor the institution is up for the challenge? Would it be this situation a Groucho Marx parody? “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
“I refuse to take on board someone whom is afraid to challenge the establishment” but “I refuse to have in my team someone whom is not afraid of challenging the establishment”…
|May 12, 2016|
In research, not only it is difficult to find the original idea that sets you apart from the rest, and the language and format that allows you to engage with the receptivity of audiences. And to develop such idea to a point it gets perceptible and understandable by others. It is also a challenge to find recognition over the value of sharing an original idea, to promote inspiration, avoiding plagiarism, even by your own colleagues.
In communication, as in many other parts of our life, it is not about what people do to you. It is even equally challenging to find those willing to stand up for others to defend what they see and recognise by themselves …
If we scientists do not trust other scientists, how are we expecting for society to trust scientists and what they have to offer? If scientists and science do not include “values” giving credit to their sources of inspiration with honesty, which values is science transmitting worth for society to engage with? Is “objective knowledge” a concept which represents what “science” is offering?
I have been discussing these issues through the framework of the line of research which I have presented in this blog. And these questions keep being of most relevance in all levels of science as it was addressed at the EGU 2017 conferences presented online.
Yet, even though the discussion in this conference is open and inviting, it maintains a strong segregation between science, scientists and society. But furthermore, it only accepts and considers as valid science and scientists what it is “Institutionalized”. Considering the percentage of scientists without a job as part of a scientific institution, how much percentage of the total scientific human potential is actually being recognised, used, implemented, …? More on this see the post Who has the right and responsibility of discussing scientific questions?
“US3 – Make Facts Great Again: how can scientists stand up for science” EGU. European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 Vienna | Austria | 23–28 April 2017 | Webstreams link. From min 50:00 specifically on communication)
Similar to Sigmund Freud quote: “Homo homini lupus /man is wolf to man”, Scientists are wolves to scientists”.
Recognition and credit. Apples and Gravity
Scientists are in a position of self inflicted weakness. Science is priced when it is described about investing in education. But once you are a scientist you become a threat among scientists. And that behaviour has been transmitted into society. Do not ask scientists what they feel about a scientific career, ask their families and friends about what they see for this person chasing a scientific career, and you will have another picture. (for more on this read the post Science, scientists, researchers, policy makers and the rest of society)
Recognition and credit for scientists has become a prize to fight for. So it is not about making good science bringing forward the best that our intellect can deliver. Nowadays it has become a survival situation where scientists are concerned about the use of data as a currency to be used in order to be exchanged for tangible resources which can support the infrastructure to have a life style (paying bills, accommodation, food, clothes …) and to support the activity of doing research in itself.
The field of discovery has become, more than ever, a fearful competition. Science is no longer about moving forward and more about standing “high”. It is not about praising the achievements found based on their relevance independently of the pedigree of the source, but more about achieving a position which will “inherently” give you the right to claim the value of your achievements.
It is not enough with demonstrating your capacity to think. You need to be good positioned in order to have the support of an audience.
Two people describing gravity at the same time could be found independently from each other and coinciding in time due to same environmental pressure steering the scientific current of the time. However, if both discoveries are claimed of being inspired by apples, the one coming from a member of a renown institution will get the upper-hand claiming their innovative originality.
Two people describing the laws of buoyancy at the same time could be found independently from each other and coinciding in time due to same environmental pressure steering the scientific current of the time. Yet, both being inspired in a bathtub …
Since in 2013 I begun to publish my assessments in this blog I have had the opportunity to witness just these kind of situations where “the position” is more relevant to make the news than “the value of the ideas”:
There are two values which are the fundamental pillars of science: Inspiration and Data.
Scientific discovery is not found in isolation from the world which is trying to explain. It is not coming from an aseptic and insensitive stage of life.
The concept of “objectivity” in science clashes with the foreseen applications for Artificial Intelligence and algorithms. (See more discussion about this in previous publications following the links in blue)
Inspiration has been a value which has been linked with discovery throughout the history of the human development. It forms part of all disciplines and gives functionality to all expressions of intelligence trough arts and numbers. It is thanks to inspiration that the ideas grow to the point of become useful independently of the user and the time frame.
It does not matter how much technology you have at your disposal, or budget, or space, sooner or later you will have to come up with an idea that makes all of that worth having.
Gravity works for studying climate, the behaviour of paint on a canvas, dancers moving across a stage, … Similarly, the value of an idea does not always come from the questions which resolves, but by the valid questions which brings into light. But, is inspiration enough to be credited?
Is it required to have inspiration “Institutionalised” in order to be recognised?
|July 28, 2016||Climbing the Hill of Acknowledgement. Peer reviewed articles supporting previous assessments and research published in this blog. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)|
Discussing Climate, space weather and nuclear tests. It is not how you use an article in a discussion but how you use a comment in a discussion to write a paper.
Communication is an activity which in order to describe it you have to practise it. And in order for others to find its value, they have to become part of it.
Scientists can not expect to praise communication as a solution if they use it to feed their own profiles without engaging, recognising the credit for those making the effort to bring science into society.
Society perceives scientific community similarly as we perceive an unknown person by the attitude adopted by a friend towards him/her. If scientists do not learn to praise the value of what each other brings to the table, do not expect to move beyond where we stand now.
One example of the situation can be found at the conference “GDB4 – Is Open Science the way to go?”. Min 27. The currency of data and data parasites. Min 35 Creative commons license. Min 45 Data Sharing and rules of engagement. min 56 Q&A Data Citations and Credit on producing data Min 59 Paying for the access to papers 1:05:00 Data plagiarism 1:05:00 Engaging with society 1:20:00 Transparency, legitimate credit and society (EGU. European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 Vienna | Austria | 23–28 April 2017)
The reason why Science stays in the stage of low recognition is because is lacking inspiration in the way it is driven within scientists and communicated outside academia. One of the reasons lays on keep repeating the same patterns of thought, discussing similar questions since several decades ago.
At the intro of this piece I described that I was asked in a radio interview about the activity that I followed outside academia and the reasons for it.
I am a scientists whom feels like an indigenous person in a big city. The knowledge that I have acquired in my career is not as much institutionalised as it might should be for some. I find inspiration to make questions everywhere I look, and I do it from a raw state of curiosity which can be perceived as “naive” by the “urbanised” (otherwise institutionalised) members of the scientific community.
But the scientific community is stacked on time and ideas. The conclusions reached to get out of the actual stage of diminished image has not been about the lack of finding scientific ideas worth of being praised and bringing together the scientific community, but instead, to call for a better ways of communicating those ideas.
I think that such attitude is missing an important point. The first issue to resolve is to find a way for scientists to support each other finding agreement and unifying efforts. There is a lack of scientific consensus in approaching relevant questions despite all the resources available. And that can only be explained due to division and lack of camaraderie.
Science does not need only to build channels of communication, but also something worth taking the attention from others bringing its recognition.
Only time will say if my effort is worth the time and energy invested.
Previous publications related with the present discussion.
I believe that I have couple of publications which might be of interest for anyone looking at the challenges which I have found when trying to communicate science without resources.
From the framework found in the research published in this blog (Timeline here) I hope some of the following publications will be of interest for you to read.
|Science, scientists, researchers, policy-makers, and the rest of society. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||November 28, 2013|
|A diverse range of thinking and thinkers. Cross-Pollinators. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||January 15, 2014|
|Cross-pollinators and the risks of specialization. The screw and the knife. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||January 16, 2014|
|Cultural cognition and the role it plays in polarizing debates. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||February 3, 2014|
|Grey matter. Drilling into the core of the Earth vs drilling into the core of the brain. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||June 13, 2014|
|“Climate Change” at School (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||August 18, 2014|
|What would you like to know? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||August 28, 2014|
|Holidays?, sorry… temporarily out of order. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||September 3, 2014|
|2014 in review. One year trying to “Fill in” or “Find out” gaps of knowledge. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||January 5, 2015|
|Reality check (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||January 30, 2015|
|Peer reviews are not easy for authors and neither for reviewers. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||April 15, 2015|
|Communication takes more than just publishing thoughts. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||June 9, 2015|
|The scope of Environmental Science and scientific thought. From Thought-driven to Data-driven, from Critical Thinking to Data Management. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||June 26, 2015|
|InFormAtion. The “Act” of “Giving Form” to “Knowledge” (by Diego fdez-Sevilla)||September 30, 2015|
|The Language of Science ( by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||November 10, 2015|
|The Sound of Silence in a Discussion We All Are Involved… Our Silence. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||November 24, 2015|
|Do You Believe in the Value of Your Work? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||February 23, 2016|
|Feedback. Have Your Say. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||April 14, 2016|
|Scientifically Challenged (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||May 12, 2016|
|Who has the right and the responsibility to discuss Climate as a topic of debate? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)||June 20, 2016|
|Climate. The Long Distance Between Science And Politics. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)||August 21, 2016|
|The value of having a point of view (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla PhD)||January 5, 2017|
See timeline page to consult the index with all previous assessments published by Diego Fdez-Sevilla PhD.
After finishing my Masters in Environmental Science in 2001, I have performed research at PhD level and worked inside and outside academia at institutions linked with environmental research and management. In 2013 I found myself in a period of transition searching for a new job’s position.
In such competitive scenario, instead of just moving my cv between desks waiting for my next opportunity to arrive, I used it as an advantageous standing point to start and develop independent research in a blog in which I could open my own line of research completely free of external pressures or interferences.
Through the whole project I have increasingly being focused on publishing pieces of original research applying my own perspective aiming to address relevant environmental questions.
The level of uncertainty which I have accomplished in my assessments has reached enough accuracy to replicate real time developments to the point of compete with models sustained by corporate and administrative budgets.
At this point Feb 2017, it has reached an stage in which its framework has been defined and it has been applied in follow-ups (in the timeline section at the bottom use ctrl+F: “follow-up”) delivering the subsequent conclusions. Therefore, the work which I present in my blog has become a chapter in my career, and I should focus now my attention on my new steps towards professional and personal growth.
The economic support sustaining the three years of research presented in this blog has been private based on my own capacity to generate it. Once the main conclusions of the project have demonstrated their value, it is time for my career to find new ways of growth and/or external sources of financial support.
Therefore, at this time Feb 2017, the generation of assessments over present developments discontinues its weekly bases in the absence of external financial support.
Diego Fdez-Sevilla PhD In transition
I am looking for new opportunities and new challenges, to join a team. At the same time that I look for job openings to incorporate my resume, I would encourage any one finding interesting any of the skills which I apply throughout my research, as well as
communicator, to evaluate my profile as a candidate for your projects. email d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com
You can look at the whole project (more than 190 posts between Oct 2013 to Feb 2017) published at https://diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com and also you will find some of those publications in my profile at ResearchGate and at the Citations page.
I am living in Spain free to relocate geographically worldwide.
About this Project:
My definition of Climate Drift is: the deviation from equilibrium of the conditions allowing the perpetuity of an established symbiotic relationship between biotic and none biotic components in a micro and macro ecosystem. This situation can be due to changes in any component of the ecosystem playing a synergistic effect over the rest. And the causes can be either a change in the magnitude of the already implemented forces in place, changes in the directionality or rates in the flows of energy pre-established OR/AND the impact suffered by the incorporation of new components/forces and energy sinks or sources in any part of the system interfering with the previously established order and balance.
This project published in a blog format, offers pieces of original research in environmental science, and a space for discussion, based on considering as a major factor limiting our understandings the lack of attention given to the gaps of knowledge existent. The concepts, measurements and parameters applied to address environmental synergistic interactions are too narrow and isolated from each other to understand their full meaning. Such circumstance induce to reach dogmatic patterns of thought to make the quickest conclusions in the absence of a better and clear idea describing what is happening.
In this Project I aim to address those limitations using observational analyses offering assessments over real time events considering those as proxies of significant value to make interpretations over global synergistic relationships.
Feedback is always welcome here and at my email d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com
Since 2002 I have performed research over the Atmospheric Dynamics interacting with the biota in the field of Aerobiology. In Oct 2013 I focused my attention over climatic dynamics and in Oct 2014 I published what I believe to be a valid theory explaining current developments in atmospheric dynamics. I shared my thoughts at my blog and several groups in LinkedIn (like the AGU, NASA and NOA groups) where the immense response offered has been silence.
In Feb 2015 I published a revision and since then a constant follow-up throughout more than 200 assessments. Still today, April 2017, the majority of the response is silence despite the amount of visits identified by all the SEO tools and the interactions and shares accounted. See the related stats at the Timeline page.
So I thank your open feedback and share.
Nowadays, there are many divisions between disciplines due to the isolated nature of their specific language and methodologies. I might not use the right vocabulary for all the fields which I discuss, or the right data or the right reasoning. But when nobody is able to offer a consensus over what it is going on, I wonder, what is right this days?.