Scientists are increasingly urged to engage beyond academia to improve decision-making, public discourse, and lay understanding of science, and many young scientists are active in these ways. Many institutions encourage such engagement and consider it an important component of staff responsibilities, but how do they measure it in promotion, tenure, professional review, etc.? The Working Group “Measuring Excellence in Science Engagement (MESE)” aimed to answer this question.
The group published its outcomes in September 2019, and is now closed.
The group had designed and conducted a survey to understand current measurement systems for science engagement activities. One aim of the survey was to compare perceptions of social importance/benefit with the weight that such engagement efforts receive in three kinds of review processes (hiring, periodic review, and promotion). The working group anticipated that it might benefit many science institutions by shaping institutional policies for more effective science outreach. Two surveys—targeting principal investigators and students, respectively—were done online and have been circulated among the GYA membership for dissemination within their networks.
Whereas research outputs and impacts are receiving a great deal of attention, relatively little attention has been paid to the measurement of excellence in science engagement/outreach (which some argue is key to making science relevant and contribute to ‘a better world’). The GYA Working Group “Measuring Excellence in Science Engagement” was working with a novel effort to understand how engagement is assessed in our jobs and how we perceive it. It also sought to assess how these perceptions about engagement, measurement, and importance, differ between researchers and their managers/heads of department, etc.
The analysis of the survey results was published in a paper on “Researcher engagement in policy deemed societally beneficial yet unrewarded” in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment in September 2019.