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Engaging scientists: An online survey exploring the experience of innovative biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne diseases.

Boëte C, Beisel U, Reis Castro L, Césard N, Reeves RG - Parasit Vectors (2015)

Bottom Line: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy.Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale.Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: UMR_D 190 Emergence des Pathologies Virales, Aix Marseille Université, IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), EHESP (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique), 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385, Marseille, Cedex 5, France. cboete@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT

Background: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy. The communication of information during their development and open exchanges between stakeholders is generally considered a key issue in their acceptance. While the attitudes of the public to novel technologies have been widely considered there has been relatively little investigation of the perceptions and awareness of scientists working on human or animal diseases transmitted by arthropods.

Methods: Consequently, we conducted a global survey on 1889 scientists working on aspects of vector-borne diseases, exploring, under the light of a variety of demographic and professional factors, their knowledge and awareness of an emerging biotechnology that has the potential to revolutionize the control of pest insect populations.

Results: Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale. We document that awareness of pioneering releases significantly relied on private communication sources that were not equally accessible to scientists from countries with endemic vector-borne diseases (dengue and malaria). In addition, we provide quantitative analysis of the perceptions and knowledge of specific biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne disease, which are likely to impact the way in which scientists around the world engage in the debate about their value.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Scientists opinions on how the public could be involved in scientific decision making (Q19). Radial bar chart representing the five responses to the question ‘How do you think citizens can be usefully involved?’ There is a strong consensus for a need for new creative methods to involve the public in science (77.9 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’). There is much less enthusiasm for the use of opinion polls (21.3 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’)
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Fig5: Scientists opinions on how the public could be involved in scientific decision making (Q19). Radial bar chart representing the five responses to the question ‘How do you think citizens can be usefully involved?’ There is a strong consensus for a need for new creative methods to involve the public in science (77.9 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’). There is much less enthusiasm for the use of opinion polls (21.3 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’)

Mentions: Given the difficulties in achieving effective information dissemination in untargeted global communication strategies it is probable that for public engagement to be effective it will most likely need to rely, at least to some extent, on local scientists (independent of any increased democratic legitimacy it generates). Consequently, we were interested to explore what scientists’ professional involvement with the public looks like and how they value this activity. The survey reveals that only a very small proportion of scientists (5 %) communicate more than once a month with non-specialist audiences (Q17), while more than 80 % have very limited interactions or none at all (Additional file 6). This occurs despite 53.8 % of respondents fully agreeing with the value of communicating with the public about their work compared to only 11 % who expressed no value in doing so (Q15, Additional file 6). When asked how science communication with the public could be improved, 77.9 % of the respondents indicated the need for more creative methods to educate and involve the public in science (Q19, Fig. 5). This indicates that most experts in vectored diseases consider the existing opportunities to communicate with a non-scientific audience as inadequate to the task.Fig. 5


Engaging scientists: An online survey exploring the experience of innovative biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne diseases.

Boëte C, Beisel U, Reis Castro L, Césard N, Reeves RG - Parasit Vectors (2015)

Scientists opinions on how the public could be involved in scientific decision making (Q19). Radial bar chart representing the five responses to the question ‘How do you think citizens can be usefully involved?’ There is a strong consensus for a need for new creative methods to involve the public in science (77.9 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’). There is much less enthusiasm for the use of opinion polls (21.3 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’)
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4530488&req=5

Fig5: Scientists opinions on how the public could be involved in scientific decision making (Q19). Radial bar chart representing the five responses to the question ‘How do you think citizens can be usefully involved?’ There is a strong consensus for a need for new creative methods to involve the public in science (77.9 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’). There is much less enthusiasm for the use of opinion polls (21.3 % selected ‘very important’ or ‘priority issue’)
Mentions: Given the difficulties in achieving effective information dissemination in untargeted global communication strategies it is probable that for public engagement to be effective it will most likely need to rely, at least to some extent, on local scientists (independent of any increased democratic legitimacy it generates). Consequently, we were interested to explore what scientists’ professional involvement with the public looks like and how they value this activity. The survey reveals that only a very small proportion of scientists (5 %) communicate more than once a month with non-specialist audiences (Q17), while more than 80 % have very limited interactions or none at all (Additional file 6). This occurs despite 53.8 % of respondents fully agreeing with the value of communicating with the public about their work compared to only 11 % who expressed no value in doing so (Q15, Additional file 6). When asked how science communication with the public could be improved, 77.9 % of the respondents indicated the need for more creative methods to educate and involve the public in science (Q19, Fig. 5). This indicates that most experts in vectored diseases consider the existing opportunities to communicate with a non-scientific audience as inadequate to the task.Fig. 5

Bottom Line: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy.Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale.Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: UMR_D 190 Emergence des Pathologies Virales, Aix Marseille Université, IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), EHESP (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique), 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385, Marseille, Cedex 5, France. cboete@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT

Background: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy. The communication of information during their development and open exchanges between stakeholders is generally considered a key issue in their acceptance. While the attitudes of the public to novel technologies have been widely considered there has been relatively little investigation of the perceptions and awareness of scientists working on human or animal diseases transmitted by arthropods.

Methods: Consequently, we conducted a global survey on 1889 scientists working on aspects of vector-borne diseases, exploring, under the light of a variety of demographic and professional factors, their knowledge and awareness of an emerging biotechnology that has the potential to revolutionize the control of pest insect populations.

Results: Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale. We document that awareness of pioneering releases significantly relied on private communication sources that were not equally accessible to scientists from countries with endemic vector-borne diseases (dengue and malaria). In addition, we provide quantitative analysis of the perceptions and knowledge of specific biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne disease, which are likely to impact the way in which scientists around the world engage in the debate about their value.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus