New research highlights the importance of culture in communicating science

Over the years, communicating scientific ideas to Puerto Rican audiences –non-specialized– has been a great challenge for local newspapers. new studyhowever, highlights that collaborations between scientific organizations and media outlets can be central to the solution. The research highlights the importance of covering science in a culturally relevant way to connect and educate the population.

The study specifically sought to identify the results of a collaboration between the entity Science Puerto Rico (CienciaPR), the largest network of Puerto Rican scientists, and The new day. Begun in 2006, the relationship between the two groups sought to promote the publication of science stories written by Puerto Rican experts, in addition to creating more culturally relevant science articles for diverse audiences in the country.

“We had noticed that, up until that time, there was very little (scientific) news published in El Nuevo Día that was local.”the doctor mentioned Monica I. Feliu Mojerdirector of the Public Participation in Science Unit for CienciaPR, about the collaboration that began almost 20 years ago. Since its inception, she has helped publish, in this journal, more than 348 articles written by Puerto Rican researchers.

According to Feliú Mójer, most of the articles, before the collaboration, reviewed scientific research and projects outside of Puerto Rico. At that time, he explained, CienciaPR had gathered a “critical mass of mainly Puerto Rican scientists” who wanted to contribute to the communication of science to the public.

Published in June in the Journal of Science Communicationthe new study –which analyzed a total of 159 newspaper articles– concluded that the collaboration between CienciaPR and The new day has helped increase science communication in a culturally relevant way in Puerto Rico. 69% of the articles written by members of the organization focused on Puerto Rican science and 92% included references to culturally relevant topics for the population..

This cultural relevance refers to things like the inclusion of references to Puerto Rican characters or organizations and the use of local slang. The research highlighted the importance of use these aspects to connect with different peopleemphasizing that, “for the researchers, it was important to obtain a representative sample of the Puerto Rican population, since the population of Puerto Rico is not homogeneous.”

The increase in scientific reporting also serves to improve public education. According to the study, Audiences connect and better understand science that is culturally relevantindicating that coverage of these topics is very important to increase their understanding on the island. This is even more relevant when considering that, historically, scientific coverage has been scarce; the research revealed that only one of 20 newspapers in Puerto Rico has a section dedicated to science.

On the other hand, instead of just transmitting science from the United States to the island – which is part of a colonial relationship –, relating new Puerto Rican discoveries helps to better include and inform the population. Covering Puerto Rican scientists is equally importantexplained Feliú Mójer, because “it shows how science is part of Puerto Rican culture,” helping to create a more informed population and inspire the new generation of researchers.

In addition, the inclusion of culturally significant details in scientific stories has the function of helping to see science as a fundamental aspect of Puerto Rican culture. Feliú Mójer highlighted this important purpose of the collaboration, explaining the purpose of doing this that science is a central part of the Puerto Rican cultureas much as music and sports.

“It demonstrates the potential of this type of collaboration between scientific organizations and media outlets to tell stories that are particularly relevant to the readers of that medium, particularly to the culture and context of those readers.”said.

Today, the collaboration between CienciaPR and The new day The increase in scientific communication, which has evolved to include new collaborations with other media and the creation of two podcasts by the organization, serves to develop a base of informed citizens and inspire the next generation of Puerto Rican researchers.

Increasing culturally relevant science media coverage: exploring the outcomes of a collaboration in Puerto Rico