A scientist learns to communicate differently

Thailand program coordinator for the World Agroforestry Centre, Prasit , describes learning different ways to communicate at a Humidtropics workshop


The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw


By Prasit


The main job of scientists is to do research; starting from observing situations, asking questions, conducting research, analyzing data, making conclusions, publishing results, and suggesting further research, and the cycle starts again, and again. The desirable outlets for the results of scientific research are peer-reviewed journals as they are deemed to be the most credible source, for fellow scientists. The scientists also disseminate their results at conferences, which are also for their fellow scientists.

Peer-reviewed scientific articles are good for scientists, but they are too difficult to be digested by development workers, policy makers, and the general public. However, for scientific findings to be used, the above-mentioned groups of people need to understand them enough to use them. This is especially true for development research. How can this be done? Here comes the communicator.

Humid Tropics communications workshop, Hanoi

L-R: Valerie Poire, Humidtropics communications officer, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture;
Jonathan Teichroew, Researcher, World Agroforestry Centre East and Central Asia Region;
Tu Mai Thanh, monitoring and evaluation officer, World Agroforestry Centre Viet Nam. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Prasit Wangpakapattanawong

Translating the research findings to be in understandable forms for audiences is only the first step of communicating them as communication has to go beyond this to persuade the audiences to really believe it the results and to train some audiences to really adopt the research results. This is especially so for development research.


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Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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