In a year full of dynamic research and enthusiastic collaboration, the VERITY project has made some significant achievements that promise to reshape the dynamics of trust in science.
The month of August has been particularly fruitful for us, as we have successfully delivered two key deliverables that further advance our mission to strengthen trust in science.
We are delighted to announce the delivery of the Report on strategies, methods, and tools to address societal distrust in science. A systematic review was conducted to identify evidence-based practices to increase public trust in science: nineteen studies were categorised into three groups: science education, science communication and science advice. The review resulted in 11 recommendations, including the use of educational programmes, emphasising expert messengers, focusing on scientific rigour and avoiding explicit political endorsements. The study highlighted the need for more diverse data sources, a universal measure of trust and consideration of socio-demographic factors. Addressing these limitations can promote trust in science and improve the relationship between science, society and policy-making. Future research will explore interventions within the trust ecosystem and categorise methods using a trust-related framework.
Alongside this remarkable milestone, the Consortium also produced the first Verity Policy Brief, highlighting the urgent need to rebuild the fragile relationship between science and society, and emphasising the crucial role of an active citizen and societal engagement in research and innovation. In the report, experts including Marina Tulin, assistant professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, and Natalie Evans, assistant professor at Amsterdam UMC, emphasise the importance of involving the public in scientific processes to increase trust. They believe that aligning incentives and involving citizens can lead to greater transparency and trustworthiness. In addition, Jonathan Birdwell, global head of policy and insights at Economist Impact, notes the influence of social media in polarising scientific issues and suggests adapting science communication to shorter, more accessible formats. The report also highlights the need to help researchers communicate effectively, tackle scientific misconduct and promote equal opportunities in research. Finally, as Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Innovation in Science and Policymaking at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), pointed out, the European Commission is actively working to improve science-policy communication and encourage citizen participation to foster collaboration in the research ecosystem. During the interview, she emphasised the need to bridge the gap between science, policymaking and the public stressing that public trust in science is crucial for democratic governance. For this reason, the JRC developed a competence framework to facilitate communication between scientists and policy-makers and are actively seeking ways to engage the public more effectively. This includes the establishment of the Competence Centre for Participatory and Deliberative Democracy.
Both reports highlight the key role of scientists and science communicators as essential bridges between the world of scientific research and the wider public. Their ability to effectively communicate the complexities of research plays a key role in shaping public perception and trust.
This is just the beginning of our exciting journey. The VERITY project is committed to fostering an environment in which trust in science thrives. As we move forward, we anticipate more groundbreaking discoveries and initiatives that will further strengthen the bonds between science and society.