Eric May – Media Consultant
  

 

 

 

It is not a given that people should automatically trust science and medical research.

The public knows science has given us miracles. But the public also knows that science has given us nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, environmental pollution and thalidomide. 

Can scientists and researchers be trusted? It is a valid question.  

Consider that sometimes even scientists don't know the probabilities, risks, and long term implications of their work themselves. And often scientists are not as forthcoming about that as they should be.


A very challenging period

Questions are being raised about the value of a lot of scientific work… especially basic research which may have only incremental, or even no results, after many years of funding.

And the clear trend is that funding for science is moving away from public money and more toward private funding sources.

Scientists can no longer assume they will get funding simply because something interests them, or, more to the point, provides them with job security. Just saying “because I am interested in it, it should be funded” is getting less and less convincing every day. 

As competition for limited research funds increases, it seems inevitable that projects that can be clearly explained in grant proposals will have an edge over those that can't.

It is already happening. Proposals that seek money for very limited goals or even for what some might consider trivial research gets funding, over more complex projects - simply because the former is easier to explain to private funders.

It doesn’t mean what science is doing isn’t valid: quite the opposite.

What it does mean, is that scientists and researchers now have to be more thoughtful in explaining why scarce resources should be diverted to their project instead of to others.


To find out how to reach donors, stakeholders, the news media and non-scientific audiences more effectively, click on the links above.