Scientists’ involvement in advocacy and public policy crucial for advancing research
When scientists embark on their research journey, they often have a clear vision of how their work will contribute to the advancement of science. However, many may not realize the significant role that public policy and advocacy efforts play in amplifying the impact of their research. By engaging with policymakers and advocating for science-related policies, scientists can shape funding priorities, influence legislation, and raise awareness about the importance of scientific research. In this article, we explore the world of science advocacy and how scientists can enhance the societal impact of their work through policy engagement.
The Misconceptions and Benefits of Advocacy
Advocacy is often misunderstood as a distraction from research or limited to lobbying efforts. However, Yvette Seger, the director of strategic scientific program advancement and director of science policy at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, highlights that advocacy is essential for researchers. Seger emphasizes that advocacy is not limited to Washington, D.C., and that much of it happens at the state level, where elected officials are accountable to their constituents. By engaging in advocacy, scientists can ensure their research receives the necessary support and funding.
The Impact of Public Policies on Research Funding
Insufficient funding can hinder scientific progress, and public policies directly influence funding decisions. Seger emphasizes that scientists are best positioned to communicate the importance of research to policymakers. Through advocacy efforts, scientists can advocate for increased research funding, which has a direct impact on their ability to advance their work. Policies such as doubling the National Institutes of Health budget, supporting early-career researchers, and addressing implicit bias in grant review panels have been influenced by science advocacy.
The Power of Personal Engagement
Engaging with policymakers and sharing personal stories can have a profound impact on shaping policies. By discussing their work and journey as scientists, researchers can highlight the significance of their research and the need for continued support. The example of a group of scientists and engineers advocating for legislation supporting girls’ and women’s education and careers in STEM showcases the power of personal engagement. Following their visit to Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office, the office agreed to cosponsor the STEM ReSTART Act, supporting underrepresented populations in rejoining the STEM workforce.
Going Beyond the Lab: Engaging the Public
Scientists have a responsibility to engage the public and communicate the potential of their research. By going beyond the confines of the lab and classroom, researchers can foster public support for science and raise awareness about its societal benefits. Seger emphasizes that understanding policy at the university level is crucial for scientists to excel in their careers. By grasping the funding landscape and the rules that govern federal funding, scientists can navigate the complex intersection of science and policy.
Science advocacy is a powerful tool for scientists to amplify the impact of their research. By engaging in advocacy efforts, researchers can shape policies, influence funding decisions, and raise awareness about the importance of scientific research. It is essential for scientists to recognize that their involvement in advocacy and public policy is an integral part of their role as researchers. By embracing science advocacy, scientists can contribute to a more robust and supportive research ecosystem, ultimately benefiting society as a whole.