As we turn to science for answers and explanations to understand and manage the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very clear that a number of influences—psychological, economic, political, social, cultural, and media-related— determine how contentious issues in science are understood and perceived. Successful scientists must be effective communicators within their professions and in political and social settings. Our publications synthesize research on communication and provide guidance to improve public engagement with science. As always, all are free to download.
Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda
Science and technology are embedded in virtually every aspect of modern life. As a result, people face an increasing need to integrate information from science with their personal values and other considerations as they make important life decisions about medical care, the safety of foods, what …
The Science of Science Communication II: Summary of a Colloquium
Successful scientists must be effective communicators within their professions. Without those skills, they could not write papers and funding proposals, give talks and field questions, or teach classes and mentor students. However, communicating with audiences outside their profession – people …
Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences
Science is a way of knowing about the world. At once a process, a product, and an institution, science enables people to both engage in the construction of new knowledge as well as use information to achieve desired ends. Access to science—whether using knowledge or creating it—necessitates …
In late March, the National Institutes of Health announced the U.S. Government Policy for Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern, which establishes regular review of federally-funded or conducted research with certain high-consequence pathogens and toxins with potential for dual use. This review is the latest in an ongoing effort to preserve the benefits of life sciences research and open scientific communication while minimizing the risk of misuse by those who wish to do harm.
Long before the issue of dual-use biological research rose to its current prominence, the National Research Council (NRC) led the debate on the tension between open scientific communication and national security. In 1982 the NRC produced the landmark report Scientific Communication and National Security. The message of this report remains relevant today.
Scientific Communication and National Security addresses one of the most difficult of policy issues: one in which fundamental national objectives seem to have been abruptly thrown into direct conflict. Advances in science and technology have traditionally thrived in an atmosphere of open communication; openness has contributed to American military and economic strength and has been a tenet of American culture and higher education. However, recent trends, including apparent increases in acquisition efforts by our adversaries, have raised serious concerns that openness may harm U.S. security by providing adversaries with militarily relevant technologies that can be directed against us. As would be expected when major national interests are in question, signs of distrust have appeared on all sides of the growing public discussion. The federal government, through its research and development agencies, and the university research community, where most basic research is conducted, both will lose much if the nation cannot find a policy course that reflects legitimate concerns.
This report, as well as others on the subject of dual use, is available to read or download at no charge.
Scientific Communication and National Security204 pages | Paperback | Price: $50.62
The military, political, and economic preeminence of the United States during the post-World War II era is based to a substantial degree on its superior rate of achievement in science and technology, as well as on its capacity to translate these achievements… [more]
Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism164 pages | Paperback | Price: $31.50
In recent years much has happened to justify an examination of biological research in light of national security concerns. The destructive application of biotechnology research includes activities such as spreading common pathogens or transforming them into… [more]
Seeking Security: Pathogens, Open Access, and Genome Databases88 pages | Paperback | Price: $18.90
Within the last 30 years, the genomes of thousands of organisms, from viruses, to bacteria, to humans, have been sequenced or partially sequenced and deposited in databases freely accessible to scientists around the world. This information is accelerating… [more]