Making social media and blogging work for occupational health scientists.
7th of September 2015
Blog post by Charlotte Wåhlin.
Blogs – the way forward?
I belong to a team of researchers, ergonomists, occupational hygienists, psychologists and physicians from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Östergötland, Sweden, that received funding to develop new strategies for science communication.
We took the opportunity to spark discussion on occupational and environmental health issues by writing a blog.
Since its launch this January, over 10 000 visitors have read one or more of our 44 posts. Politicians, labour unions, workers, and managers have commented on the blog or contacted us directly.
The blog has succeeded in engaging and spreading knowledge from many relevant stakeholders in Sweden, and its topics are inspired by our current research and everyday experiences at our unit that investigates and assesses risks to workers and environmental health at the workplace: issues such as future work environments, vibration damage, poor managers, back problems, and ergonomics.
To reach as many people as possible, we also use podcasts and social media.
Social media – a neglected tool
Via social media, Jani Ruotsalainen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health asked for my help in translating his Cochrane review ”Preventing occupational stress in healthcare workers” into Swedish, and record it as a podcast.
This is living proof that it is possible to create fruitful contacts between researchers via Twitter even when you are given only 140 characters! Feel free to tweet us: @CSWahlin and@JHRuotsalainen using the hashtag #Talkevidence.
Social media is definitely an upcoming forum for the exchange of knowledge.
We need to improve the way we communicate science by collaborating with journalists, science communicators, and web producers, both nationally and internationally.
If we want to live up to our mission of informing the public at large, we scientists need to revisit this mission and prioritize the need to communicate our findings amidst the haste and pressure of our everyday duties.
Leave your comfort zone!
No matter what support you have, where you work or how you contribute to the advancement of occupational health and safety, I dare you to step outside your comfort zone and dip your toes into this fantastic new world of communication and collaboration.
I promise you it will pay off!
I look forward to more innovative and flexible ways of disseminating research and knowledge that can improve workers’ health and their work environment.
Seven things that work when communicating science
1. Increasing your knowledge on how to write popular science
2. Getting support from your organization, involve your own workplace
3. Setting a goal if you want to blog; determine who you want to reach and why
4. Making facts and research readable, linking publications and websites
5. Leaving your comfort zone and looking for new collaboration possibilities with journalists, science communicators, web producers and other researchers
6. Involving stakeholders such as labor unions and organizations, and creating a network
7. Evaluating what you do.
Visit the blog discussed at www.arbetsochmiljomedicin.se
You can send feedback to the writer at charlotte.wahlin[at]regionostergotland.se