Go to Google Images and search for “science.” What are the results? More than likely, the search will come up with beakers, protons, lab coats, double helixes, pulsars, microscopes and perhaps a smattering of trees and images of the globe. Photographs of researchers boot-high in streams collecting samples, for instance, or of a Cayman Island blue iguana in its natural habitat, would probably be few and far between. But images such as these—which show an aspect of the biological sciences, environmental processes or a subject of ecological research—rarely show up, even though they are of course also science.
It is important to keep changes in perspective, this includes the overall influence of and public interest in science. In a session at the National Association of Science Writers’ (NASW) 2010 meeting last weekend, panelists and audience members discussed public interest in science and ways to increase this interest during a time of change.
Many science communicators suggest that the key to effectively translating climate change research is to keep the message concise, accurate and interesting, all in one tight package. Perhaps the most streamlined of platforms to communicate this science is a comic strip in which the cartoonist has just a few panels to neatly and accurately convey the findings, the alternative viewpoint and the gravity of the issue at hand. Oh, and it should be funny too.
The reasons for sharing research with the media are relatively widely known: If a certain research topic is going to be highlighted as an important issue, then it needs to be shared with the public. And reporters are one of the best ways to give research exposure. The question, then, is what makes research newsworthy?