1 November 2018 to 19 December 2018
Europe/Zurich timezone

Communicating particle physics matters

Not scheduled
Other (communication, outreach, strategy process, technology transfer, individual contributions,…)


Public and political support for particle physics is essential for sustaining the long-term future of the field - whether this is for attracting young people into STEM careers, gaining support from local communities for building new experiments, or for securing government funding for new and existing experiments. The importance of communicating particle physics has long been recognised by the discipline, with significant effort invested over many years by institutions and individuals to inspire and involve young people and adults. The current European Strategy for Particle Physics emphasises that sharing the excitement of scientific discoveries with the public is part of the duty of researchers, and recommends that communication and outreach in particle physics should receive adequate funding and be recognised as a central component of the scientific activity. This submission stresses the need for the next version of the Strategy to expand on the recommendation [1] from the previous version as follows:

1) “Outreach and communication in particle physics should receive adequate funding and be recognised as a central component of the scientific activity”
across all European countries. Professional communication teams should be in place, to ensure that increasing visibility and enhancing reputation are always included in any communication activity.

In addition, we make the following recommendations to:

2) Maintain and support effective networks of professional communications staff to plan and deliver communications activities strategically, effectively and in a coordinated manner, making use of new tools and techniques, and sharing best practice;

3) Demonstrate to the widest possible audiences the societal and economic benefits arising from current and historic investment in particle physics using appropriate metrics;

4) Play a positive role in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in particle physics through the coordinated planning and delivery of specific communications campaigns, materials and activities that also target new and underserved audiences across Europe and beyond.

This document also discusses the current and future challenges that particle physics communicators face; notably the pace of change in social media tools and channels, the speed of dissemination of good news, bad news and rumours, the need to maintain trust and transparency, and the complexities of maintaining media interest until the next big discovery. A significant challenge is the decline in dedicated science journalism within the mainstream media. All of these issues require a network of professional science communicators to work together, sharing best practice to achieve our common goals. The overall goals of our communication strategy are to ensure the long-term future for particle physics and fundamental research, and to share new discoveries and the process of extending human knowledge with the wider society.

[1] See https://cds.cern.ch/record/1567258/files/esc-e-106.pdf, page 3 n)

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