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How does SMC find a voice for experts?

FAQ Researchers

Our editorial team will contact you in case of media coverage of an event related to your field – for example, if a study is likely to hit the headlines or if a current event outside of science, for example a political decision, is connected to your field of expertise.

Usually, we will ask you for a written assessment of the topic. We do not expect you to write pages or write a scientific peer review. Instead, we seek short, concise, well-founded statements, which, for example, summarize the importance of new research results for society. Your statements and those of other experts will then be bundled and sent to the 1800 journalists registered with us as fast as possible. This implies that, on the one hand, the content of your statements is only lightly edited for clarity, not revised nor censored. On the other hand, your statements provide the journalists with reliable assessments early on.

On special occasions and topics, we might also invite you to a press briefing which is a virtual press conference hosted by us for registered journalists. Thereby, we aim to inform them more broadly on important topics which are likely to be on the news in the near future and where scientific experts can help to prevent misunderstandings and to stop false information from spreading.

There is no reason to worry about workload too much since we are not going to contact you often and you can always decline our requests without consequences. Vice versa, if you do not hear from us for a long time, that does not mean that we have lost interest in your expertise.

Most topics make the headlines only on specific occasions. All the more, we would be glad if you were ready to devote some time to reply to our requests quickly in case a topic from your field of expertise does make it onto the public agenda – event though we are only too aware how precious your time is.

Whenever we contact you, we judge a topic of your expertise to be of major relevance for the current public discourse. Therefore, we ask you to reply in a timely manner. This way, we can deliver your scientific assessments to journalists fast enough to make a difference for public reporting. For that reason, we would be glad if you permitted us to contact you anytime if necessary – in case of rapidly evolving, unexpected events of great importance even outside of office hours. Luckily, however, such events are exceedlingly rare.

We need your telephone number, mail address and, if possible, also mobile phone number. This way, we can contact you easily. Moreover, we would be very thankful if you could inform us in case your contact details change. Furthermore, the contact details of your assistant or your private mail address can help us safe valuable time in urgent situations. We use such private contact details only in case of exceptionally urgent and important situations and will not forward them to any other journalists without your explicit consent.

Whenever we request an expert statement from you, we also ask you to inform us on potential conflicts of interest, for example in case of patents or third-party funding received from companies affected by the topic in case. A potential conflict of interest does not automatically imply that you and your expert knowledge are not allowed to support reporting with your statement. Rather, our aim is to be transparent to our journalists and the public by indicating potential conflicts of interest below the expert statements, believing that they should not be hidden.

Whenever you hear from peers about relevant scientific events or whenever important scientific findings do not get the attention they deserve in public discourse, we are keen to know. Only if you inform us early enough about forthcoming publications or events can we prepare accordingly.

We are also grateful for any suggestions on topics for future press briefings.

In case you wish to talk to us on matters which you believe should not be connected to your institution or yourself, we respect that and of course treat information confidentially.

Our editorial team is independent and free from external influence in its decisions on which topics to cover and which not to. Importantly, we are neither a press office nor a lobby organisation for the interests of others and we aim at keeping a distance to those who just try to advertise their own work. Our sole and only goal is to strengthen the great social good of an enlightened public discourse with knowledgeable arguments by scientific experts.

We protect your data according to the German data protection and privacy laws using the latest technology. Our expert database is located on a well-secured, specific server in Germany, so that no unauthorized person can access confidential information. All information covered by data privacy and protection laws is solely known to the SMC team and our employees are contractually obligated to be discrete. Moreover, we will never transmit personal contact data such as mobile phone numbers to journalists without your explicit consent. In cases journalists wish to contact you via us, the SMC team always checks whether you have agreed to this.

Furthermore, we would like to inform the press office of your organisation that you cooperate with us. The reason for this is that we regularly work together with press offices and other science communicators. If you wish your press office not to receive such a notification, please inform us as soon as possible.

A final thing to point out: If you work for an organisation which could receive enquiries under the German Freedom of Information Act (Informationsfreiheitsgesetz), then your correspondence with the SMC can also be enquired and accessed. However, the SMC itself is not subject to the German Freedom of Information Act. Therefore, the SMC itself cannot be obliged under this act to disclose any correspondence with you.

It is not required to specifically prepare for our requests. All that matters to us is your expertise and, ideally, that you reply fast. On the general handling of media requests or interviews there are numerous media training courses by qualified providers. For example, the Nationale Institut für Wissenschaftskommunikation NaWik (National Institute for Science Communication) in Karlsruhe is an experienced provider and familiar with the way the SMC works.

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.