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Meet the expert - Elisabetta Tola Meet the expert - Elisabetta Tola

Elisabetta Tola has a PhD in Microbiology and an MA in Science Communication at SISSA, Trieste, Italy. She is a lecturer in science communication, multimedia, radio production and in data journalism in various journalism schools and courses.

 She is co-founder of the science communication agency formicablu, in Bologna and Roma, where she coordinates projects exploring cross-media tools in science communication. She has been one of the presenters of the daily science programme Radio3Scienza on RAI Radio 3 since 2005. Elisabetta is currently involved in the production of the weekly science programme PiGreco Party, on air and in podcast since 2004 on Radio Città del Capo, Bologna. 

In 2010, she worked on seismic risk prevention, producing the docu-fiction Non chiamarmi terremoto. Her recent interest include data journalism and communication of agro-biodiversity.

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RE: EU research results? - who should translate?
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Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 13:00
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Des Spolse 24/07/12 13:23
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 13:38
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Barbara Streicher 24/07/12 13:50
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 13:55
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? NATHALIE pUZENAT 24/07/12 14:21
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 15:19
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Andrea Frantz-Pittner 24/07/12 15:29
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 15:32
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Andrea Frantz-Pittner 24/07/12 15:44
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 16:12
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Andrea Frantz-Pittner 24/07/12 16:30
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? martha fabbri 25/07/12 00:40
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 25/07/12 10:34
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Andrea Frantz-Pittner 24/07/12 16:23
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 16:32
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Andrea Frantz-Pittner 24/07/12 16:41
EU research results? - who should translate? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 16:48
RE: EU research results? - who should translate? Morgan Meyer 24/07/12 23:37
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Nora Maddock 24/07/12 21:59
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Heather King 25/07/12 00:49
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? NATHALIE pUZENAT 24/07/12 14:39
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Elisabetta Tola 24/07/12 15:24
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? NATHALIE pUZENAT 24/07/12 21:17
RE: Difficulty to access EU research results? Stephen Roberts 25/07/12 21:37
Maybe you did not like the previous questions? emoticon

Well, here is another one, more focused on practical issues:

What are the main barriers to access results produced within research projects (particularly, if possibile, focusing on EU research projects): technology, language, time, interest, communities…

Have you actually ever tried to have information about the ongoing and the intermediate and final results of some EU projects? Can you give us some examples?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 13:23 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
I have worked with some countries (I will not name them emoticon ) where the English language was obviously a problem.
Apart from that, the project themselves (and the deliverables) are often not very appealing, even if the content is good.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 13:38 as a reply to Des Spolse.
Des Spolse:
I have worked with some countries (I will not name them emoticon ) where the English language was obviously a problem.
Apart from that, the project themselves (and the deliverables) are often not very appealing, even if the content is good.


that's a good point: is easy for everybody to use the english language? or should most materials be produced also in all languages?

do you actually imagine that science teachers in your own country are able to access information in english or do you put particular care, during the preparation of your events/books/articles in translating in an appropriate manner not only the contents but also the language?
and do you find the translating step a hard obstacle?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 13:50 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
a lot of the accessible dissemination products of EU projects are produced as necessary deliverables for the sake of the commission, not so much focused on possible users. this might be because dissemination is usually in the final period of the project, so produced under time pressure (i know i am generalising here)

and of course time constraints are also on the user side - i have to become aware of the projects and its results and might not use them at the time when i get this information. so i file it or store it in the back of my head to be used when needed.
so the timing of information giving might not coincide with the information seeking.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 13:55 as a reply to Barbara Streicher.
Barbara Streicher:
a lot of the accessible dissemination products of EU projects are produced as necessary deliverables for the sake of the commission, not so much focused on possible users. this might be because dissemination is usually in the final period of the project, so produced under time pressure (i know i am generalising here)

and of course time constraints are also on the user side - i have to become aware of the projects and its results and might not use them at the time when i get this information. so i file it or store it in the back of my head to be used when needed.
so the timing of information giving might not coincide with the information seeking.


Very crucial points, Barbara, both of them!

Has anyone some practical example of a good dissemination plan and of a bad one? We are not doing rankings, here, but we do need to know how these things work.

So, first of all, I do think that having to do the dissemination just for the sake of the project, without any real thought on final users is a waste of enery, money and effort.

Second, I do agree that timing has a fundamental role.

Now, can anyone comment on how do you think a good dissemination plan could actually meet users needs and demands? And what should be avoided?

Looking forward to getting your hints...
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 14:21 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
We are two from universcience, Paris, France answering - Gabriel Picot is educational manager and has a good experience of dissemination in his previous experience as a teacher in DAMOCLES european project about sea ice :

many teachers were embedded on the ship for an oceanographical campaign , and there were lectures given by scientists on board and dissemination afterwards was driven by teachers in their own language in each country (we are french - probably one of the country mentionned where few people fluently speak english -even among young teachers working with us for example) .
It was also during the international polar year
there was a high frequentation of the web site : www.mission-polaire.ac-versailles.fr
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 14:39 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
as an exhibit developer , I seldom use european project as a first basis , mainly because i don't know them. i don't have the idea to look for european projects
when by chance i found one ( through browsing) , if it is finished ( it happened two or three times ) it seems that there is no thing any more, as if it is suddenly stopped.
( for example I 'm working on swarm and found a web site about swarm robots on Mars european projetc but nothing else after the end 2006.

We also have a good remembrance of two magazine research*eu and previously RTDinfo which gave a good insight in interesting projects covering many thema. Is there any other media to replace it ?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 15:19 as a reply to NATHALIE pUZENAT.
NATHALIE pUZENAT:
We are two from universcience, Paris, France answering - Gabriel Picot is educational manager and has a good experience of dissemination in his previous experience as a teacher in DAMOCLES european project about sea ice :

many teachers were embedded on the ship for an oceanographical campaign , and there were lectures given by scientists on board and dissemination afterwards was driven by teachers in their own language in each country (we are french - probably one of the country mentionned where few people fluently speak english -even among young teachers working with us for example) .
It was also during the international polar year
there was a high frequentation of the web site : www.mission-polaire.ac-versailles.fr


ok, so it seems quite clear that direct contact, conversation and maybe a full time experience with teachers, communicators and scientists together will do more than a dissemination plan based on documents which are then circulated through the web,

is that right?

apparently, from the comments coming through, people who work on exhibits or books, let's say on long term projects, direct conversation appears to be more effective than websites and various tools of dissemination which are supposed to be reached on one's own will and pace

do you agree? or someone else has a different experience to share?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 15:24 as a reply to NATHALIE pUZENAT.
NATHALIE pUZENAT:
as an exhibit developer , I seldom use european project as a first basis , mainly because i don't know them. i don't have the idea to look for european projects
when by chance i found one ( through browsing) , if it is finished ( it happened two or three times ) it seems that there is no thing any more, as if it is suddenly stopped.
( for example I 'm working on swarm and found a web site about swarm robots on Mars european projetc but nothing else after the end 2006.

We also have a good remembrance of two magazine research*eu and previously RTDinfo which gave a good insight in interesting projects covering many thema. Is there any other media to replace it ?


Thx Nathalie, that's another good point.
Many EU projects do have a dissemination plan but, effectively, activites are usually funded only up to the end of the project and there is no obligation in keeping tracks of previous projects on the same subjects. Consortia change, coordinators change, and that means that also the dissemination strategies and tools change, but maybe an effective way to keep track of a certain project also after it's finisched it would be to force newer project on the same subject to link and keep a cache of the materials previously developed by previous projects.

Do you agree? Or are there other ways to do it better?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 15:29 as a reply to Barbara Streicher.
to your second argument: I really would welcome some sort of European data-base (similar to the Austrian IMST-WIKI) where you can search for specific topics and results at the time when you need them.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 15:32 as a reply to Andrea Frantz-Pittner.
Andrea Frantz-Pittner:
to your second argument: I really would welcome some sort of European data-base (similar to the Austrian IMST-WIKI) where you can search for specific topics and results at the time when you need them.


I think this is a very practical and easy to set up tool, thanks Andrea.

Would anyone else agree with that? Which kind of materials would you expect to find in such a database. And should these kind of products be compulsory as final results of a research project as well?

And, to cater for the fact that many materials are not organised and produced with diverse final users in mind than fellow scientists of the ones involved in the research project, who should be in charge for their production and dissemination? do you actually trust scientists in doing this?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 15:44 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
I think that for our work we need mainly that type of research that is done by practicioners themselves (e.g. action-reseach projects that combine development and research). But unfortunately often this work is not seen as "real" research and there is little chance to publish such projects in journals with "academic" standards.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 16:12 as a reply to Andrea Frantz-Pittner.
Andrea Frantz-Pittner:
I think that for our work we need mainly that type of research that is done by practicioners themselves (e.g. action-reseach projects that combine development and research). But unfortunately often this work is not seen as "real" research and there is little chance to publish such projects in journals with "academic" standards.


so, is there to anyone's knowledge, a place where this type of research is actually accessible and indexed? I mean, a searchable database of this type of works, experiences and research. how could we get around this?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 16:23 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
To your second point: although many scientists are very talented in presenting their research to the public - being a good scientist not necessarily means to be a good science communicator. So to reach people that are not deeply involved in the specific topic and research methods - and most teachers and museum staff belong to this category - it could be extremely helpful to have some sort of "translation". That means people who read research reports and write a short summary in a language that is easy to understand.
In the research2practice project ( I mentioned above) this work is done by science communicators ( I don´t know exactly all people involved but some of them are directors and curators of science centers).
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 16:30 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
I only know the Austrian "IMST-WIKI" (http://imst3plus.aau.at/imst-wiki/index.php/Hauptseite) that contains about 1000 examples of best-practice and small research projects done by teachers. Unfortunately it is only in German, but maybe the structure of the data-base could be interesting for all.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 16:32 as a reply to Andrea Frantz-Pittner.
Andrea Frantz-Pittner:
To your second point: although many scientists are very talented in presenting their research to the public - being a good scientist not necessarily means to be a good science communicator. So to reach people that are not deeply involved in the specific topic and research methods - and most teachers and museum staff belong to this category - it could be extremely helpful to have some sort of "translation". That means people who read research reports and write a short summary in a language that is easy to understand.
In the research2practice project ( I mentioned above) this work is done by science communicators ( I don´t know exactly all people involved but some of them are directors and curators of science centers).


Does everybody else agree on this? If so, should science communicators always be involved in the dissemination of a research project? And how can we that done? By having professional science communication taking part in the research projects as well?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 16:41 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
It depends on the adressed group of recipients: Research on science teaching that shall reach other academic educationals specialists doesn´t need any translation. Reseach that aims to reach practicioners will in most cases need translation. The question for me is: who is responsible for organizing translation - the producers or the recipients?
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EU research results? - who should translate?
24/07/12 16:48 as a reply to Andrea Frantz-Pittner.
Andrea Frantz-Pittner:
The question for me is: who is responsible for organizing translation - the producers or the recipients?


That, I think, it's a major point. Both situations might have diverse outcomes. What would you actually prefer?

And what about the others? Would you rather have science 'translated' by communication professionals or by the same producers?
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 21:17 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
I'm not sure it wil be efficicent
but there might be a euroepan database which collect all the topics
its adress could be disseminated with at last topics translated in differents language (a real barrier when just checking ) ...
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
24/07/12 21:59 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
One approach that we have very recently started using at Centre of the Cell is to provide researchers with a 'menu' of science communication activities such as interactives tools, workshops, shows etc before they submit their grant applications. When they have decided what type(s) of activites they would like to do, we work on the public engagement section of their grant together. This means the projects are carefully costed and planned in advance. This helps researchers to communicate their research to new audiences and provides interesting new content for science communicators.
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RE: EU research results? - who should translate?
24/07/12 23:37 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
There is one recent EU project on science communication I found quite interesting, NanoToTouch: http://www.nanototouch.eu/
The project aimed at communicating nanotechnology in museums and science centers and tried to be creative in terms of science communication.

One of the things done in the project was to create and think about "open research laboratories". In the case of the Deutsches Museum (the coordinator of the project), this meant creating a space - within the museum - to allow at once the presentation, explanation, display and discussion of nanotechnology... with researchers actually carrying out experiments.

The are, of course, challenges for researchers who work in such open research laboratories in museums: being “on display”; having to cope with noise and working within museum opening hours; not working inside their university for a while; getting visitors to ask questions. But researchers apparently also enjoy this experience: sometimes much to their surprise, they learn that people other than their peers are actually interested in their research and they learn how to communicate with visitors.

Perhaps a key difference to other EU projects was that there was indeed something concrete to "touch": a space in science museums where researchers are supposed to discuss with the public.

I've written a bit about this project, so if you want some more info, just ask...
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
25/07/12 00:40 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
Elisabetta Tola:
Andrea Frantz-Pittner:
I think that for our work we need mainly that type of research that is done by practicioners themselves (e.g. action-reseach projects that combine development and research). But unfortunately often this work is not seen as "real" research and there is little chance to publish such projects in journals with "academic" standards.


so, is there to anyone's knowledge, a place where this type of research is actually accessible and indexed? I mean, a searchable database of this type of works, experiences and research. how could we get around this?


In fact, not only I would be interested in this action-research driven content, but probably it would appeal to me much more than the academic driven kind...

Last time I searched EU sites for this kind of information, I managed to find and download a few papers that were the outcome of interesting research projects, but the papers were too long and I needed quick reference. In the end I found what I was looking for in a much more user-friendly reference site from New Zealand... emoticon
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
25/07/12 00:49 as a reply to Andrea Frantz-Pittner.
Hi
I'm writing now as one of the authors of research2practice.info
A key premise for setting up this resource is we recongise that informal science education practitioners and other science communicators rarely have access to current education research and are therefore unable to apply new theory and learning to thier work.
The lack of access is three-fold:
- Few institutions (and certainly few individuals) have free access to academic journals (that are not open-source)
- Many academic papers are written in a style and a language that is not easy to understand: ie full of jargon, and with references to complex theories etc
- Much of the work in educational research is classroom based, and although the findings may be relevant to those working in settings beyond the classroom, interpreting / translating the findings is not easy.

In writing the summaries, I and the other authors build on our experience as both academics and science communicators and attempt to highlight the key points/findings that are relevant to the science engagement/communication field. We hope that we do a good job, but we're still learning! (We have recently received more funding so will be able to continue work over the next few years)

As a model for other efforts, I think that this resouce is really useful. I would love to see similar summaries (of science, or other areas of the social sciences relevant to science communication) expressly written for our particular audiences.

I'm now going to look at some of the other suggestions posted on this thread - but clearly there is a need for such services to be supported more broadly.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
25/07/12 10:34 as a reply to martha fabbri.
[quote=martha fabbri][quote=Elisabetta Tola] In fact, not only I would be interested in this action-research driven content, but probably it would appeal to me much more than the academic driven kind... Last time I searched EU sites for this kind of information, I managed to find and download a few papers that were the outcome of interesting research projects, but the papers were too long and I needed quick reference. In the end I found what I was looking for in a much more user-friendly reference site from New Zealand... :)[/quote] I think is a perfectly clear suggestion of something that could be done with not too much effort and, as a matter of fact, with not much cost either. We'll continue this discussion under the day 3 conversation. please stay tuned and keep posting and interacting with us.
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RE: Difficulty to access EU research results?
25/07/12 21:37 as a reply to Elisabetta Tola.
I have been reading some of these posts with interest. Heather's comment particularly resonates with me and having a researcher embedded within the Museum working towards a doctorate thesis on the impact of meeting scientists means recent science communication research publications are everywhere (neatly of course!).

There have been and are efforts to capture and share evaluation of science communication initiatives that have proved useful, the BSA one jumps to mind: http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/forms/scicomm/evaluation/access/

We also post some of our own evaluation reports, including for EU funded projects online: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/visitor-research/index.html

I am not sure if these sources are used by teachers mind you.
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