Category Archives: Scientist Benefits

Researcher Development Framework and I’m a Scientist

It’s well established that scientists doing I’m a Scientist gain just as many positive outcomes as the students they talk to. Using the Vitae Researcher Development Framework to frame these benefits allows us to articulate them in a way that resonates with universities.

Recently, we surveyed event alumni from centres of doctoral training (CDTs) to quantify the effect of taking part on relevant RDF descriptors. This is part of our ongoing strategy to build relationships with these institutions. In total, 37 alumni who had taken part in I’m a Scientist or I’m an Engineer at least 3 months prior responded.

Pleasingly, we saw positive effects across the board. Here we breakdown the key results by relevant RDF domain (don’t worry, we weren’t interested in all 60+ descriptors).

 

RDF Domain B – Personal effectiveness

81% of respondents considered taking part as contributing to their Continuing Professional Development (B3 Continuing professional development B3)

73% say that taking part increased their enthusiasm and passion for their research (B1 Enthusiasm, B1 Self-confidence, B1 Self-reflection)

  • Getting to reflect on their personal motivations and the interest that students showed in their research were the biggest contributing factor to this effect.

68% had seen benefits to either their professional networks, the number of opportunities offered to them, and their profile and reputation as a researcher. (B3 Continuing professional development B3, Responsiveness to opportunities, B3  Networking )

“It seems to have been a big positive on my CV, which I have to admit I didn’t expect. I was asked about it specifically both at interview, and later by my line manager during the induction process.” – CDT student

“It establish me as an enthusiastic researcher willing to engage with researchers. if future employers google me they find something positive straight away.” – CDT student

RDF Domain D –  Engagement, influence and impact

94% said taking part improved their ability to communicate research with public audiences

  • Being able to ‘adapt language for different ability levels’ was the most improved skill among respondents

92% said they adapted their approach to communicating with students as the event went on

91% continue to use phrases they developed during the event to explain what they do in other contexts (D2 Communication methods, D2 Communication media, D3 Public engagement, also A3 Argument construction)

69% said taking part had improved their understanding of the impact of their research on society in some way (D3 Society and culture, D3 Global citizenship, D3 Public engagement, also C1 Ethics, principles and sustainability)

  • The impact of their research on people’s everyday lives was the area most had improved this understanding. Understanding of ethical issues and the economic value of their research were other improved areas.

“Writing an answer, it’s much easier to stop using jargon, it was a good lesson in recalibrating yourself… Now when you go to do face to face outreach you feel more equipped.” – CDT student

‘”Engineers typically do not have a lot of time to give back to the society in the form of public discussion, but this experience highlighted that it is very important to have those conversations with new generations coming through and as a result I have participated in more public engagement activities than I previously would have.” – CDT student


Posted on May 15, 2018 modantony in Evaluation, Scientist Benefits | Comments Off on Researcher Development Framework and I’m a Scientist

I’m a Scientist acts as a public engagement booster for scientists

Anecdotally, we’ve heard of how I’m a Scientist can be a good starting point for science communication activities. This was the case of Suzi Gage, Tom Crick or Suze Kundu, who took part in I’m a Scientist in June 2011 and are now putting a great emphasis on the communication side of their scientific careers or even fully devoting to it.

Twitter conversation about the impact of I'm a Scientist on Science Communication careers

Twitter conversation about the impact of I’m a Scientist on Science Communication careers

However, we were still curious to know to what extent we could extrapolate this to the wider community of scientists that have participated in the event during the last years. How could we know if I’m a Scientist had encouraged them to do more science outreach? Well, we decided to ask them.

We sent a survey to all the scientists that had participated in I’m a Scientist until 2012, leaving a gap of at least one year since they took part in the event. Approximately a quarter of the scientist responded to the survey, resulting in a more than decent sample of 113 scientists. The data collected in the survey show that there is a strong indication that I’m a Scientist is a real public engagement (PE) boost for scientists.

Summary of the survey's main findings

Summary of the survey’s main findings

I’m a Scientist is a good way to start doing public engagement in schools

If we look at public engagement at schools, we have recorded a significant increase, especially among those scientists that were particularly new to this form of outreach. Moreover, scientists who had never done school public engagement were encouraged to do more public engagement in general, going from none to an average of over 4 activities per year.  This was supported by some great comments gathered in the survey:

Having never done outreach with schools before, IAS gave me the chance to engage with a different audience than I would typically.” – Scientist

Scientists find the event flexible, open and inclusive

The online nature of the event was praised by different scientists that left comments in the survey:

I really liked how the online format broke down barriers and allowed the students to ask anything they wanted without having to stand up in a crowd.” – Scientist

Having all the activity online also gave me the flexibility to contribute more of my time, ad from a remote setting, compared to face-to-face school visits.” – Scientist

"Sifting the evidence" Suzy Gage blog hosted by The Guardian

“Sifting the evidence” Suzy Gage blog hosted by The Guardian

Some of the scientists had already contributed to the online scientific community with blog posts, podcasts or through social media. However, for a high proportion of them (68 out of the total 113) I’m a Scientist represented their first online public engagement event, which really pushed up their participation in general public engagement. In this case, their collaboration with public engagement activities went from zero to more than 3 general outreach events per year.

It was also interesting to find out that those who had already done lots of public engagement (4-15 activities per year) started doing more specific online outreach after participating in I’m a Scientist, at the expense of other forms of public engagement.

I’m a Scientist reveals itself as a great launchpad for budding science communicators

The majority of the scientists that filled in the survey (86%) had already taken part in some kind of public engagement activity (lectures, science festivals, interviews in traditional media, science policy making, etc.). It was a nice surprise to find out that scientists who had done very little public engagement (1-3 activities per year) increased their activity dramatically, going up to 5-8 outreach activities per year after the event. What is more, the greatest increase in overall public engagement activity (an increase of 130%) corresponded to the scientists who were just doing very little of it before the event.

Looking at the big picture, there is a general trend that I’m a Scientist enhances the participation of scientists in outreach events, except in the case of those who already did loads (more than 30 activities per year), where there is very little room for improvement. All in all, we are happy to confirm that I’m a Scientist represents a great launching platform for public engagement in science.

It remains the best public engagement event in which I have been involved.” – Scientist

 

Posted on January 8, 2014 modangela in Evaluation, Event News, News, Science Engagement, Scientist Benefits, Scientists | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist acts as a public engagement booster for scientists