Science + Journalism: A Match Made for Research Success

by | Jan 8, 2021

Just like the decades I spent in the news business, one of the things I’ve most enjoyed about my life in business is how deep we get to go on many different subjects—subjects as disparate as health care, education, finance, the broadband industry and the science of invention.

No two days are alike!  And we’re always working with new and fascinating people.

People like Audrey Sherman.

Audrey is a long-time Division Scientist at 3M with nearly 150 patents to her name. We’ve been working together over the past couple of years on several projects — combining her scientific researchers with our journalistic researchers — in search of answers to complex business challenges.

What a kick!

Both of our teams are in search of the truth. And we’ve both seen “truth” under assault at a time when our respective professions are arguably more important than ever.

We’re pairing our teams together because we’re finding this blend of scientific and journalistic research very effective: Compatible. Non-duplicative. Beneficial when rowing together.

Audrey says that while not everyone appreciates the role of science in our daily lives, that is changing. Helping scientists to communicate as storytellers—in addition to being masters of data—is part of the solution.

“Three years ago, 3M did this State of Science Index and it really was eye-opening,” she says. “We talked to about 14,000 people over 14 countries and fewer than half of them said science made a difference in their lives. And you’re just like, wow. We all wear clothes and many of us drive cars or own smartphones and live in a house—we are all the beneficiaries of science, every day! So we appointed a new position, a Chief Science Advocate who helps build awareness and appreciation for science in people’s everyday lives.

“This year, I have to say, it’s jumped,” Audrey says. “People today want to believe in science: they need masks and vaccines and people to study transmission and everything. This year, 89 percent of people said they trust science and 54 percent say that science is important to their everyday lives, compared to 44 percent before the pandemic. That’s encouraging.”

The scientific and engineering fields are always under pressure to work faster—and that’s where journalists can help the process: defining the challenge, refining and expanding where and how products can be used and marketed, interrogating facts and coming up with solutions to business challenges.

This week, our conversation riffing on the value of scientific and journalistic research was picked up by Machine Design Magazine.  Check it out here.

No two days alike!

Photo credit: Pexels

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