Science dissemination has gained growing importance in the world as a field of knowledge and an action strategy, partly as an intuitive response by scientists to anti-science movements, but mainly based on the understanding of political and economic interests behind the questioning of scientific evidence. The neologism “agnotology” 11. Proctor R, Schiebinger L, editores. Agnotology: the making and unmaking of ignorance. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press; 2018. proposes the study of policies to produce ignorance and strategies to stimulate anti-science, not as the lack of information, but as the intentional creation of misinformation. Such strategies shed doubt on scientific consensuses, drawing on so-called “experts” and backed by just a single published article, possibly financed by parties interested in denying the scientific evidence 22. Michaels D. The triumph of doubt: dark money and the science of deception. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2020.. An example is the denial of global warming, a position that interests the petroleum industry 33. Leite JC. Controvérsias científicas ou negação da ciência? A agnotologia e a ciência do clima. Scientiae Studia 2014; 12:179-89..
Scientists have thus endeavored to reach out beyond the debates centered exclusively on their peers to respond to the need to make scientific knowledge more accessible. It is not just about speaking with journalists and other groups and stakeholders in society, but to confront the risks of speaking out and the possible (and frequent) misinterpretation, or of not speaking out and thus failing to seize the opportunity to strengthen ties between science and the citizenry.
We at CSP have tackled these challenges with systematic professional work in science dissemination since August 2018, featuring a part-time professional journalist and a journalism student intern. The initiative focused initially on the existing social networks at CSP (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cadernosdesaudepublica/; Twitter: https://twitter.com/CadernosSP), with the following objectives: enhancing, expanding the volume, and guaranteeing regular posts on the social networks; expanding interaction with users and the relationship with strategic profiles; and establishing routine monthly evaluation based on performance reports. In a scenario in which the platforms have restricted the potential for viewing unpaid posts, the outreach obtained on CSP networks has happened naturally, without any specific funding to encourage it. Even so, we have witnessed an impressive growth in posting and viewing. Since August 2018, as of the closing of this Editorial on May 19, 2021, there was a leap from 2,459 likes to 7,380 (+200%) on the Facebook page and from 420 followers to 2,147 (+411%) on Twitter.
The approval of the CSP project in the Call for Proposals on Science Dissemination issued by Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in the first semester of 2019 launched a new front for action, namely our science dissemination workshops. The proposal was for authors to join with journalists, communicators experienced in social networks, and advocacy groups working with this issue, aimed at the collective formulation of science dissemination strategies. The project provided for three workshops on articles in the Supplements The Health of Indigenous Children and Adolescents in Latin America (http://cadernos.ensp.fiocruz.br/csp/sumario/volume/36/fasciculo/307), Public Policy Networks, Regionalization, and Health (http://cadernos.ensp.fiocruz.br/csp/sumario/volume/36/fasciculo/303), and Vaccines in Public Health (http://cadernos.ensp.fiocruz.br/csp/sumario/volume/37/fasciculo/323).
The workshop on indigenous health was the only one that was possible to hold before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The workshop had 23 participants and produced 22 action proposals, specifying the respective intended target publics and the persons in charge of implementing the proposals. Six of the proposals were carried out. The health crisis changed the priorities, since the issues raised by anti-science during the pandemic became the principal focus for everyone, including CSP.
The other two workshops were reoriented for the same reason. The Supplement Public Policy Networks, Regionalization, and Health led to a partnership with the Region and Networks Platform (https://www.resbr.net.br/) to create a debate program called Dilemmas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTAuqlZOv4s&t=390s). The Supplement Vaccines in Public Health resulted in a debate, COVID-19 Vaccination: Reflections on Attitudes and Opinions, among the three authors, updating the published articles according to the pandemic’s context (http://informe.ensp.fiocruz.br/secoes/noticia/428/51378).
With the structuring of the “fast-track” publication flow for articles addressing numerous aspects of the pandemic, CSP created a special program, Interview with Authors, posted on a playlist in the YouTube channel of the Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health/Fiocruz (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDv5r_LeYLA&list=PLjxv_Q_71tpYCzJQpHiyeq-tmEvQVEujA), in which editors and authors debate the published articles. The program has been successful, and the topics have been increasingly diverse.
Our journal’s investment in a press consultancy has also paid off. The number of news (non-academic) citations of CSP increased and gained a new configuration. In the last two years, 55 different Brazilian and international news vehicles have published news stories based on scientific articles published in CSP.
Science dissemination at CSP is thus currently organized on three fronts: social networks, press consultancy, and video and podcast production by the program Interview with Authors. The journal’s broad and steady expansion in this area has been a continuous learning process, based on experimentation, monitoring the results, evaluation, improvement of the practices, and analysis of external trends. In a scenario of major budget restrictions, this process has also been a constant exercise in the administration of resources and energy for each initiative.
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly broke down many of the gigantic walls that separated society and scientists. The world is asking science for answers, especially in the field of Public Health/Collective Health, on measures of individual prevention, vaccines, or the pandemic’s impact on food security. It is necessary for the language of scientific articles to approach that of journalism, social networks, audios, and videos. We believe that our role is to support authors who publish in CSP to engage increasingly in science dissemination activities. The participation by CSP with authors is a guarantee of scientific quality that serves as the basis for other languages, extending the authors’ published contents beyond the field of experts. That is why we intend to maintain, expand, and improve these initiatives.
CSP remains steadfast in the creation of bridges and dialogues between different actors and on various fronts. Our commitment, based on the exchange among peers, is to support adequate dissemination of science to improve the population’s living and health conditions.
- 1Proctor R, Schiebinger L, editores. Agnotology: the making and unmaking of ignorance. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press; 2018.
- 2Michaels D. The triumph of doubt: dark money and the science of deception. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2020.
- 3Leite JC. Controvérsias científicas ou negação da ciência? A agnotologia e a ciência do clima. Scientiae Studia 2014; 12:179-89.
- Publication in this collection
07 July 2021
- Date of issue
08 June 2021
08 June 2021