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HomescienceSBPC discusses the importance of scientific publishing — Ministry of Science, Technology...

SBPC discusses the importance of scientific publishing — Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation

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The importance of scientific publishing for defining public policies and developing strategies in a scenario of increased information consumption via social media was one of the topics discussed at the round table “Public perception of science and technology in Brazil”, held on Monday (8) at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) campus, in Belém, as part of the agenda of the 76th Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC).

The discussion was moderated by the Director of the Center for Management and Strategic Studies (CGEE), Anderson Gomes. The panel was composed of Jorge Castelfranchi (UFMG), Luisa Massarani (Fiocruz), Thayan Moreira (UFF) and Eldio de Castro Moreira (UFRJ). The panels presented were based on the research “Public perception of science and technology in Brazil 2023”, carried out by the CGEE, at the request of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). The study is part of a series that began in 1987.

The survey reveals that the Brazilian society’s positive view of science and technology has remained, despite a 6.1% decrease between 2019 and 2023. The survey reveals that 66% of the public considers that science and technology bring only benefits or more benefits than harm. Society. The three most important topics for Brazilians are medicine (78% interested or very interested), the environment (76% very interested or interested) and religion (70% very interested). However, only 11% of respondents have visited or participated in activities in science and technology spaces. The most visited places are the zoo, botanical garden or ecological park, the library and the science fair.

The questionnaire can be accessed at the link

In presenting the methodology adopted for the interviews and the main data of the study, the coordinator of the InCiTe multidisciplinary observatory, at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Jurij Castelfranchi, highlighted the need to assess the perception of society on issues related to scientific research. “Since the post-war period, this type of research has been used to evaluate the health of the technology system and has been used in major crises, such as the Chernobyl nuclear accident and mad cow disease, which raised major questions about the performance of research institutions,” he explains.

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According to Castelfranchi, when analyzing public perception, it is possible to point out a change in the behavior of the people interviewed in relation to fake news on current topics, such as the environmental crisis. “There are groups of people who say that climate change does not exist. Those who check this information at least are those who really believe it. And it does not depend much on the level of education. “Disinformation is not created to hurt ignorant people, but groups with specific social values,” says the professor.

Oswaldo Cruz Foundation researcher Luisa Massarani addressed the issues of greatest interest identified in her analysis. “The interest in the health topic has declined, perhaps because the coronavirus pandemic is over,” the researcher says, highlighting the public’s critical capacity. “People see the positive aspects of science and technology, but they also realize that science can be responsible for climate problems, for example.”

Social Media and Press

In her speech, Professor Theanne Moreira of the Federal University of Fluminense presented a study entitled “Science in different fields: Analysis of media discourses in professional journalism and social media”. 786 reports from the newspapers Folha de S.Paulo and O Globo published between 2022 and 2023 were analyzed. In the case of social media, 320 profiles and 320 channels were observed for authoring content on Instagram and YouTube.

According to Thayan, both traditional journalism and social media reduce the discussion of science to a few areas of knowledge. In the case of newspapers, there is a focus on topics such as health sciences, exact sciences, and earth sciences, with a predominance of male sources (72%) and institutions from the United States (37.7% of the organizations mentioned). Social media focuses on topics such as science and technology policy and areas such as exact sciences and earth sciences.

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“On social networks, analysis shows that science is used for commercial purposes,” comments the UFF professor. “Science-related content on social media also has the appeal of the curious, the unexpected and the curious, and there is the dissemination of content that questions scientific theories or promotes practices or beliefs that are not supported by the scientific method,” says Tahiani.

SPBC’s honorary president, Ildio Moreira, highlighted the need to use data from public perception surveys to inform sectoral policies. “This research is supported by public resources. We need to think of strategies to convince administrators to use this in science education,” said the professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “Knowledge of science is very low. Public schools need to discuss more science, including Brazilian science, and face the problem head-on,” he concluded.

In response to the audience’s question about how to expand the dissemination of science and technology in Brazil, given the current situation, the debaters proposed alternatives such as creating a network of thinkers where universities encourage young people and students to carry out good dissemination, as a way to go beyond the institutional aspect. Another proposal was to offer optional courses on scientific dissemination in all fields of knowledge, with a focus on social media.

Finally, moderator Anderson Gomes highlighted the need to expand the use of research data. “It was a rich table, with people with extensive experience in this topic. We have a lot of data, a lot of indicators. This is what I call looking in the rearview mirror. How to use these indicators was a question that was asked not only by the audience, but also by the panelists with suggestions and recommendations. “The clear thing is that we need to act,” says Gomes.

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“We have the information and the problem has been solved, but there is a need for coordinated action by the federal government, with its public policies, and by state governments, with their education departments. The key point here is to allocate all the indicators and data related to public perception by science and technology managers to implement these current demands and actually put them into practice. This is a political decision, because the scientific knowledge and how to do it already exists.”

From July 7 to 13, 2024, the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC) and the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) will hold in Belém the 76th Annual Meeting of the SBPC. The main theme of this edition is “Science for a Sustainable and Inclusive Future: For a New Social Contract with Nature”.

Watch the discussion at the link

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