Two-way communication between scientists and the public: a view from science communication trainers in North America

Training programs aimed at enhancing scientists’ ability to communicate are becoming increasingly prevalent, but little is known about the objectives of these programs and their short-and long-term effectiveness. This study examines how science communication trainers think about science communication objectives and goals.

We conducted interviews with 24 science communication trainers to get a baseline understanding of how trainers think about training efforts and how these aims reflect (or do not reflect) strategic communication principles. The interviews suggest that although trainers recognize the value of two-way communication, trainers rarely focus on two-way communication objectives, like listening to their audiences or tailoring their messages to their chosen audience. These training programs also focused on developing skills disconnected from objectives. Overall, the study highlights the opportunity for science communication trainers to integrate more strategic communication insights into their curricula.