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FAQ Science Communicators

Via the SMC, you can introduce real experts into public discourse, reducing the spaces that might otherwise be filled with would-be-experts who degrade public debates. You support a more reliable reporting on science that is well-founded on expert knowledge. In order to spread the relevant expert knowledge as far as possible, via the SMC you do not just reach typical science journalists, but also others, for example from local newspapers or political journalists.

We consider very carefully exactly which topics are appropriate for a press conference with journalists and we are thankful for any recommendations on publications or topics that might be of interest to the media. Such topics could be striking results from a new study or events with a high news value that are strongly connected to science; for example the flood events in Ahrtal. Please contact us whenever you believe to have found such a study or event. Yet keep in mind that we decide on topics for press briefings slightly differently than for our other formats: Those topics should have a broader focus than a single scientific publication or event and often they are about a topic at the intersection of politics and science. Moreover, the number of press briefings we can organize is limited.

Usually not. The reason is that we focus on top researchers and their expertise when assessments of new studies or current events from a scientific standpoint are relevant. Yet, whenever you believe to be able to benefit us with an assessment or a non-scientific expert on a specific topic that we work on, please do not hesitate to contact us. In particular circumstances, additional well-grounded assessments from non-scientific experts can be of value for our journalists and public discourse.

We try to inform you as well as possible whenever one of the researchers from your institution supports our work. Furthermore, we encourage researchers to inform the science communicators from their institutions on their work for the SMC. Yet, we do not oblige them to do this.

The moment a newsworthy event in need of scientific assessment becomes public, the SMC reaches out to the experts registered in its database, asking for a statement within days or even hours. On such short notice, it is challenging for us to find and reach all relevant experts. For that reason, if you know researchers whom you assess to be reliable experts on a topic, then please do inform us without hesitation. We are happy about recommendations and follow them up as soon as possible.

Of course, you can. We specialise in controversial topics insofar as many important public issues become controversial in the public sphere. We wish to aid the public by disseminating expertise, whenever complex, controversial and ambivalent scientific topics are reported. Especially early hints on upcoming publications, for which you expect a lot of public attention, are valuable to give us time to prepare. Any time that you discover interesting breaking news, think a particular topic to be of public relevance or wish to make journalists aware of particularly relevant research, please talk to us. Whether background information, a piece of advice or strategically relevant tips, we are happy for any support. Also, we treat your information as confidential if you wish so.

Most press offices consider it unproblematic for us to contact researchers directly, as it is practiced by most science journalists. All institutions supporting us agree that we may directly and proactively contact their experts. We prefer this way because it is faster. Sometimes, every minute counts. Fast access to competent researchers can be decisive if we want to have an actual, positive impact on reporting. We are well aware that press offices would like to know which of the researchers from their institutions are in contact with which media organisations. For that reason, we also offer to “cc” you in our mail correspondence with experts in case you wish to.

That is not possible, since we use our database solely for the purpose of our own work. We have assured data protection and privacy in an official document that experts as well as journalists who wish to register in our database have signed. Therefore, we cannot and do not hand out information on people in our database without their explicit consent.

We do neither disseminate press releases, nor do we do any other press or public relations work for other organisations. Our editorial team thinks and works independently of other institutions. Our sole goal is improving public discourse and to enable our society to use scientific expertise and appreciate its value. For that, we wish to make specialist expertise public whenever it can support and enlighten discourse on public issues. We consider ourselves to be part of the journalistic environment, not part of science PR.

WOf course, we always seek to mention the correct affiliation of a researcher. Furthermore, we are well aware that, for your institution, communicating names and the institutional affiliation of your researchers is important. However, excellent researchers are often members of many institutions. Whenever a researchers send us their statements, we ask them which affiliations they wish us to mention. Whilst stating one or two affiliations is reasonable and feasible, more are not. This is because journalists cannot and will not state all affiliations anyways and would simply be forced to choose themselves which ones to use and which to drop.

If you as a press office wish to change the affiliations of researchers from your institution, please inform us which alternatives you propose. We will then ask the researchers for their approval. You are also free to discuss this internally with the respective researcher and inform us afterwards.

In case any of your questions remain unanswered by our website, please contact us. We are happy to help, glad to get feedback and look forward to hearing from you.