In recent years, many groups— from climate-change deniers to anti-vaxxers— have publicly challenged research widely accepted in the scientific community. And although science has always had its critics, trust has reached new lows in an era of misinformation fueled by social media and politicians who doubt the advice of experts. The phenomenon has real-world consequences: in just one current—and pressing—example, doubts surrounding medical research on the Covid-19 virus and the safety of the new vaccines threaten public health efforts to fight the pandemic. How can scientists promote greater public trust in their research? And how can publishers of this research support these efforts?
Anita de Waard, VP of Research Collaborations at Elsevier, will moderate the event and is joined by Tracey Brown, OBE, Sense about Science, Richard Sever, Assistant Director, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, and Eefke Smit, Director of Standards and Technology at the International Association of STM Publishers. Below, Anita shares a couple of thoughts about our session and the latest in efforts to restore trust in science.
Why is this topic important and timely? Is there a particular aspect of this topic that is noteworthy?
In our current climate, trust in science is an absolutely vital aspect to address for all of us supporting the scientific, medical, and scholarly community. The COVID pandemic has shown that science can save lives: similarly, if trust in science erodes, it can be very dangerous for individuals or society as a whole. This webinar is intended to support a discussion within the scholarly communication community to explore what role we can play in supporting societal trust in scientific research and medical breakthroughs. If we as scholarly publishers can leverage our resources and rally behind science and medicine, we can develop a climate of healthy skepticism and evidence-based discussion, and enhance knowledge of research and understanding of why and how science works.
What should attendees expect?
We have three excellent panelists who represent different stakeholders of the scholarly communications community: Tracey Brown’s Sense About Science has been working to support bringing an understanding of science to a general audience; STM’s Eefke Smit has been spearheading publisher’s efforts to enhance trust in science, and Richard Sever at Cold Spring Harbor has supported efforts to explore and enhance the public’s trust in science as well. The main question we will ask the panelists is “What can publishers do (to support trust in science)?” We look forward to hearing other questions and issues from the SSP audience.