2011-12-21 12:52:14One of my focal points for 2012: engaging more with scientists
John Cook


I just met with the head of UQ's Department of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management about the possibility of their scientists publishing on Skeptical Science. So after a good chat (really interesting, actually, he's had his own stoushes with skeptics which made for great tales), he asked if I could send a brief summary of what SkS is looking for that he could pass onto his scientists. This is what I just emailed him:

Skeptical Science aims to educate the public about climate change science and solutions. The website won the 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge and receives over 500,000 visits per month. Our goal is to make climate science accessible to the public and provide scientists with the opportunity to explain and raise the profile of their research. Two ways that scientists can contribute are:
  1. Guest articles about climate science or solutions. We're particularly interested in scientists explaining their own research, in layperson friendly language. Word length is flexible, from several hundred to several thousand words. We have the facility for scientists to respond directly to reader comments, encouraging direct interaction with the public (this isn't essential but interactivity does enhance outreach).
  2. Refutations of climate misinformation. If scientists have written responses to climate misinformation, we'd be interested in publishing it in our encyclopaedia of climate myth debunkings. These can be written at any level - we have basic, intermediate and advanced versions and if you have a more technical rebuttal, our team of writers can work with you to help create a plain English version (possibly enhanced with infographics) in order to create the definitive online rebuttal of a climate myth.

The "Climate Scientists Explain" series was something I discussed at the start of 2011 that I never got off the ground. But there's a lot of love for SkS in the scientific community right now so I'm very determined to not procrastinate in building strong networks with scientists in 2012. This will be one of the big things I want to especially push for - using SkS to get scientists engaging directly with the public. But it needs to be organised and strategic - involving whole departments and communities of scientists, not just bumping into a scientist at random and asking them if they want to help.

Anyway, this will be something I'll pursue in the New Year but for now, just mentioning the email I sent to the Geography Department and welcome any comments on our "SkS Pitch" for the next time I need to make the pitch to a scientist/group.

2011-12-21 13:40:26
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

This is a strategy we discussed some time ago that I have attempted to pursue in my (limited) time that I had.  I have commitments from several scientists right now to write guest posts on some of their very recent work (Kiehl, Bjorck, etc).  But I have not pursued a more organized strategy to this point.

2011-12-21 19:33:15
Glenn Tamblyn


The idea of working with scientists on subjects would be really clever. They are possibly across their subject areas better than any of us can be, including new developing stuff. And we may have a better handle on how to present and avoid the traps than they do.  Might be worth trying to expand this beyond just UofQ. Could the CRRT be a good place to spruik collaborations. Building SkS into a portal for scientists to reach out to the wider public as opposed to just in the Journal/Conference circuit could be quite effective.

And that might take some of the workload off people here in generating content to allow more focus on dissemination of it.

Things like a 'How we know what we know' series, done in the same Basic/Intermediate/Advanced format, perhaps with a 4th 'Warts and All' level that are linked together might be a great resource.

We have commented on quality vs quantity. Would be great to have both.