We are all stakeholders in science: thanks and farewell, Dr Andrea Crampton

So lets start.. Who decides who is a real scientist and who isn’t?  I am a professional scientist because I am lucky enough to be paid…
Science. Once an elite, isolated practice restricted to a few individuals; now, with the proliferation of social media and citizen science and engagement, science is leaving the rarified air of the laboratory and entering the community. So who counts as a scientist? This is the question that our curator, molecular parasitologist and education researcher Dr Andrea Crampton of Charles Sturt University discussed this week on Real Scientists. In her own words, which kicked off a week of fantastic discussion and debate on the account’s timeline:

I come from a long line of real scientists…40,000 years in Australia…fitting for NAIDOC week.  My indigenous ancestors were scientists… Ecologists knew when to move to so food sources could replenish and with the seasons. Fish biologists developed traps and methods. Physicists and material scientists identified the best types of wood and designs for spears, boomerangs scrapers, baskets, mats and housing. The botanists identified plants for eating, for tools, for medicine.  The psychologists (elders) provide guidlines to promote health tribes.

So science has always been a part of human existence, but you can think of it as a method, a way of thinking about the world and understanding it, that has developed and transmitted over time:

Their science badge also comes because they communicated their findings to general community via stories, cultural practices, “rules”…

And it’s this transmission of information that’s lacking today. Increasingly, though, scientists are engaging more with the people who largely fund their work – through official channels as well as ones like RealScientists and communicating this work is becoming a condition of receiving this money from the taxpayer.  As citizen science becomes more and more important, whether in donating computer processing power or observing and collecting information about species in their backyards, people recognize more and more that they are in fact the primary stakeholders in scientific research. Andrea’s interests lie in fostering communication, engagement and exchange between scientists and the community and the various ways this comes about.  So thanks once more Andrea for initiating and driving a stimulating and accessible discussion on science and its messages that concerns everyone on the planet, not just those in the research industry. Because whether funded by government, business, charity or crowdfunding, all of us are the eventual end-users and stakeholders of research.

Keep following Andrea at her own account @csuscitnl; and as usual, if you missed any of the action this week, check out our Storify of her week of curation.
Next up, Dr Peter Ireland, applied physicist and music boffin, joins us from Newcastle.


James is a recovering scientist and escaped postdoc who works in research management at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He's now retired from active @RealScientists duty, after serving from the project's beginnings in 2013 through to mid 2015. When not managing research, surviving #PlanetParenthood or pretending not to be an expat Australian in the Deep South of NZ, he tweets @theotherdrsmith.

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