If you are a press officer and science communicator, this is how you can support us
Our editorial team of experienced science journalists provide journalists working on all desks and for all types of media with evidence-based knowledge and sound expertise. The aim is to enhance the public debate and improve the quality of reporting.
In order for SMC to grow and work successfully we should be grateful for your support.
In your role as a science communicator you meet dedicated scientists in relevant areas of expertise on a daily basis. Now you have the opportunity to play a role in helping their research results and expertise as well as their opinions on other colleagues’ research receive the required attention.
Please recommend SMC experts at your institution and draw our attention to imminent topics and developments. In this way you can help to ensure that serious, top expertise reaches the public.
FAQs – Science communicators
By introducing experts with genuine knowledge to SMC you have access to a raft of media and can help to reduce public exposure for would-be experts. You also promote more authoritative reporting on science. Via SMC, you can, furthermore, reach registered journalists who do not work on classic science desks but on local or political desks, for example, which means that more assessments by qualified scientists find their way into the media.
We consider very carefully exactly which themes are appropriate for a topical press conference. And we welcome any information we receive from research institutions alerting us to forthcoming publications or topics that are likely to attract a lot of media interest. This could refer to ground-breaking research results or events with high news value. Do contact us if you have a story in mind that could be of interest to SMC and its registered journalists. Please also note that our range of topics is restricted and bound by certain requirements:
- We only organise press briefings in response to science-related events that are of major public relevance and that are expected to hit the headlines - such as controversial specialist publications and other scientific occurrences or hot topics related to medicine or natural science.
- We respond to controversial, complex and ambivalent topics and public issues that seriously divide public opinion and which call for authoritative assessments by scientists to make a genuine difference to reporting.
- We respond to scientific studies, which purport to be ground-breaking, and are very likely to lead to exaggeration and misinterpretation.
- We respond when supra-institutional topics and the interests of science as a whole are directly affected or when scientists identify an urgent need for public clarification, and journalists are in a position to offer guidance.
Not as a rule because we focus on the specialist knowledge of top researchers who are able to deliver expert statements on research articles or current events from the research point of view. In individual cases and under certain circumstances it can, however, be meaningful to collect the views of individuals who are not scientific experts and disseminate them to journalists. If you think you have an assessment of a special topic that could be of interest to SMC or know a particularly able non-scientific member of staff, do get in touch with us.
We search for competent specialists who are prepared to make statements and who are able and willing to allow their expertise to flow into reporting in the German-speaking media. Via SMC, these experts can contribute their special knowledge on topics of public interest just at the very moment when journalists need it.
For us, it is very important that the experts on our database fulfil certain criteria – ranging from expert knowledge to being prepared to respond to SMC’s requests at short notice. We should be very grateful if you could spark scientists’ enthusiasm for SMC. You can, for example, send us an e-mail recommending a researcher you have encountered in a certain field. If our initial contact with the expert proves to be useful and fulfils our criteria, we shall be pleased to include him or her on the database. When journalists are looking for specialist knowledge and expertise in one of the relevant fields we will then contact the expert once again. Please remember that SMC does not strive for a fully-comprehensive database and is not the press office for the research community.
We do our best to provide you with information when we make contact with one of your scientists. And we encourage experts on our database to inform you about their work for SMC in your capacity as a representative of science communication. It is not, however, a pre-condition for being included on our database.
If a science-related announcement with high news value becomes known, SMC will immediately contact the experts registered with it and request a statement within hours. We cannot guarantee that our request will reach every scientist with expertise in the field, so if you know an expert you think could provide up-to-date authoritative knowledge, the current state of research or relevant assessments, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are grateful for well-informed suggestions even if we cannot always promise to follow up every single one. When science hits the headlines and scientists want to comment on it immediately, that is a good time for you to recommend a competent expert to SMC.
Of course. We specialise in controversial areas and want to furnish journalists with expertise when complex, contentious or ambivalent scientific topics dominate the news. What is particularly helpful are early pointers to publications which you think might generate particular attention in the media. If you are confronted with breaking news, want to suggest an opinion piece on a topic, or draw journalists’ attention to a particular, sensitive research topic, you are most welcome to contact us – irrespective of whether the objective is background information, advice or strategically relevant details. If you wish, we will treat your information confidentially.
As with most science journalists, the majority of science communicators are happy for us to contact their scientists directly. The scientists who work with us themselves all agree to us contacting them directly and proactively. SMC prefers this immediate approach because it is usually quicker. Please bear in mind that sometimes every minute counts and fast access to expert researchers can be crucial if journalists are to report accurately.
Both the expert database and the database of journalists registered with SMC are used exclusively for our own purposes. We do not disclose contact details without the permission of the individual concerned. On request, we are able to inform you about any important changes in the major editorial offices.
No, we do not forward press releases from press offices to journalists. Nor do we undertake any press or public outreach work for research institutions or other organisations. Our editorial office thinks and acts in supra-institutional terms. We want to give voice to scientists’ expertise at the precise moment it is likely to help elucidate issues of public interest.
We do our very best to provide accurate information and are aware how important it is to your institution to cite the experts’ names and institutional affiliations. In practice, however, excellent researchers are often involved in various organisational structures. Increasingly, research is being conducted in the form of projects in which any individual institution is just one of many. We ask all the experts on our database which affiliation they want to use when delivering their assessments. If you, as a science coordinator, want to change an expert’s affiliation please speak to your member of staff directly and send us an e-mail informing us which alternative institutional affiliation is preferred. Only then will we be able to ask for the researcher’s permission.
No. There are plenty of opportunities for scientists to attend traditional media training sessions at universities, research institutions and with private providers.
If you have any other questions that have not been answered on this website, please write or call. We look forward to hearing from you.