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PSCI-COM  February 2012

PSCI-COM February 2012

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Subject:

Re: Job Vacancy

From:

"Phillips, Rhys" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

psci-com: on public engagement with science

Date:

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 20:15:35 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (1 lines)

Hi Wynn, 
 
 
> Everyone who sings is not a singer. 
 
I disagree. They may not be a professional singer. Or even a good singer. But they are undeniably a singer at some level. I, like most of us I suspect, eat food - just because I may not eat "good" food or because I don't eat as my profession, does not mean I am not an 'eater'.  
 
 
> A 'science communicator' (as defined by this list and pretty much everyone I know in the field) is someone who communicates science to the public / lay audiences. 
 
As a job title / description, I agree that this is generally the accepted meaning. But for me, as someone who works as a research engineer and spends a lot of voluntary time communicating science to public and school audiences, I find the task of communicating science to ANY audience enjoyable and interesting - I get pleasure and enjoyment out of explaining science to very young children right up to my peers. I suspect that for many on the list, they enjoy the task of communicating science full stop, no matter who the audience is. So it would seem reasonable that some people who are on a list of those interested in science communication (whichever meaning you use) may also be interested in a specific form of science communication, i.e. lecturing. 
 
I admit that the title of the list does specify 'public engagement' and in this description, my post did not fit. But as I said, it is not the only role that has been advertised here which is not public engagement. 
 
 
> Otherwise they would have remained in academia and pursued a research/lecture career which requires no science communication training. 
 
Well that's simply not true - there are several reasons why someone might leave an academic career but still only want to communicate their thoughts to peers and former colleagues.  
 
 
It is interesting though because on another similar list, there is a discussion about favourite science communicators - and many have suggested parents and teachers in response to this. Neither of those would fit with the definition of communicating to a public audience.  
 
Essentially, communicating is an art form and like many art forms, who fits the description of doing it is subjective. Personally, I would not call many of the bands in the charts today 'musicians' but they are clearly making music and so undeniably, they are musicians, no matter what my opinion is of their music. 
 
-- 
Rhys Phillips 
Lightning, Electrostatics & EMH 
x4704 
 
 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: psci-com: on public engagement with science [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Wynn Abbott 
Sent: 27 February 2012 19:59 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PSCI-COM] Job Vacancy 
 
Hi Rhys -  
 
Everyone who sings is not a singer. 
 
A 'science communicator' (as defined by this list and pretty much everyone I know in the field) is someone who communicates science to the public / lay audiences.  
 
It is not someone who solely communicates with their students or peers. 
 
Otherwise they would have remained in academia and pursued a research/lecture career which requires no science communication training. 
 
You're clearly fixed on your views here so probably best to end the debate here... 
 
Best, 
 
 
Wynn 
 
 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: psci-com: on public engagement with science [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Phillips, Rhys 
Sent: 27 February 2012 19:42 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PSCI-COM] Job Vacancy 
 
Hmmm. 
 
 
"This whole 'I'm communicating science therefore I'm a science communicator' argument doesn't really holds up if you're only ever communicating with your students and your peer group." 
 
I'm afraid I disagree with this part of your email - the words are right there. It's a bit like saying someone who writes songs cannot be described as a song writer, just because they only write books for a particular audience. 
 
 
 
"There's nothing in this lecturer vacancy description which obliges the post holder to do anything whatsoever with the public. 
 
This list is for those who engage the public - the title of this list is 'psci-com: on public engagement with science'?" 
 
That bit I accept - as I said before, it was my own misjudgement to submit it to this list. But I still maintain that it is a science communication role, just one not suited for this distribution list. 
 
I have to say that given some roles previously mentioned here are for engaging with specific groups of people (e.g. schools within a classroom setting which to me does not count as members of the public), that my impression was that "public engagement" is a) quite a subjective term and b) not one strictly upheld on the list, hence why I thought the post was suitable. 
 
 
Once again, sorry!! 
 
 
 
-- 
Rhys Phillips 
Lightning, Electrostatics & EMH 
x4704 
 
 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: psci-com: on public engagement with science [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of London Science Festival 
Sent: 27 February 2012 19:29 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PSCI-COM] Job Vacancy 
 
This whole 'I'm communicating science therefore I'm a science communicator' argument doesn't really holds up if you're only ever communicating with your students and your peer group. 
 
There's nothing in this lecturer vacancy description which obliges the post holder to do anything whatsoever with the public. 
 
This list is for those who engage the public - the title of this list is 'psci-com: on public engagement with science'? 
 
Best, 
 
 
Wynn 
 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: psci-com: on public engagement with science [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Phillips, Rhys 
Sent: 27 February 2012 19:22 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PSCI-COM] Job Vacancy 
 
Hi Francis, 
 
The ability to communicate may well come last on the criteria. 
 
However if someone is interested in communicating science and lecturing is a form of communication, then surely that same person may well be interested in lecturing on a science subject? 
 
Rhys 
 
-- 
Rhys Phillips 
Lightning, Electrostatics & EMH 
x4704 
 
 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: psci-com: on public engagement with science [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Francis Sedgemore 
Sent: 27 February 2012 18:51 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PSCI-COM] Job Vacancy 
 
As MK says, the ability to communicate normally comes last on the list of criteria used to assess candidates for most university teaching positions. What matters is research experience and potential, and for that reason lectureships should not be advertised here. Send them instead to jobs.ac.uk. Teaching fellowships and the like are another matter. 
 
Some of us professional science communicators are recovering academics, but all it takes is one or two years out of the loop, and one's university research and teaching career is toast. 
 
Francis 
 
--  
Dr Francis Sedgemore 
journalist and science writer 
www.sedgemore.com 
 
> -----Original Message----- 
> From: psci-com: on public engagement with science [mailto:PSCI- 
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Phillips, Rhys 
> Sent: 27 February 2012 18:08 
> To: [log in to unmask] 
> Subject: Re: [PSCI-COM] Job Vacancy 
>  
> Hi Wynn, 
>  
> I agree that those roles are a vital part of science communication. I was using 
> those examples to make my point (perhaps not very well!) that just because 
> your job doesn't involve actively presenting at a science museum or giving 
> talks to schools for example, that doesn't mean it isn't science 
> communication. Relevant press jobs are of course a form of science 
> communication. 
>  
> But to me, so is lecturing on science topics - lecturing by definition is a form of 
> communication. Therefore I don't see how it does not count as Science 
> Communication. I don't think the institutional strategy / mission statement is 
> even needed - to me it is fairly simple. If the position was purely a research 
> position then that would perhaps be different. 
>  
> Rhys 
>  
> -- 
> Rhys Phillips 
> Lightning, Electrostatics & EMH 
> x4704 
 
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