“We won’t have a strong system of science until we have a robust communication system”


Interview with ANTONIO CALVO ROY
President of the Spanish Association for Science Communication


Antonio Calvo Roy is the President of the Spanish Association of Science Communication (AECC) and strongly supports the professionalization of science outreach, as indeed he must. He insists on the importance of support for science among communicators, and in the need for specialized journalists, both in the editorial offices of the media and in the press offices of scientific institutions. Calvo Roy will be a member of one of the panels during the meeting “100Xciencia” which will take place between 7th and 9th October in La Palma.



As the President of the AECC, how would you rate the science outreach sector in our country?

“There is good news, and bad news. The double crisis in the communications media has reduced the presence of specialized journalists in the media (with some exceptions), so that I think that there is in fact less scientific journalism. However the advantage provided by the social networks is that they make it much easier to get access to high quality popularization”.


Do you think that scientific institutions and the communications media have invested sufficiently for this type of professionals?

“No, obviously not. I think that we still have a short supply of professional journalists in the press offices, I don’t mean scientists who are more or less recycled, but genuine professionals in communication, who have worked in the media, and who therefore know how to work for and with journalists”.


How does the Spanish system of R+D+I value scientific communication and popularization?

“It is a growing area, but is still weak. We won’t have a strong research system until we also have robust science communication”.


Could the fact that the great majority of journalists specializing in science are working in the research institutions and that in the communications media there are very few specialists lead to a serious lack of genuine criticism about these matters?

There is no doubt that this is a serious problem. I think that it is essential that there are specialized journalists in the media who are capable, and critics who can produce quality news pieces about science and science politics”.


“Researchers need support from society, but if society doesn’t understand the importance of science for our future they won’t be supported”


What is your opinion about current science policy in Spain, and in the Autonomous (Spanish) Communities? Should the Spanish science system become more commercialized in order to be more profitable?

“It has suffered from the crisis, as has everything, which implies that talk about a change in the model has been of no value. Furthermore there is every increasing bureaucratic obstacle for the researchers who have to spend a growing fraction of their time filling out papers rather than carrying out their research”.


One of the consequences of the crisis is that for the first time Spanish scientists have fought shoulder to shoulder against the cuts. Could this be the start of genuine change?

“If only it could be! I think that there has been increased awareness and in consequence more protests. Researchers have to win the support of the general public, but if society does not understand the importance of science for our future they will not obtain this support. For this we need science news and outreach”.


The “100XCIENCIA” meeting is a unique opportunity for the Severo Ochoa Centers of Excellence to share some days with specialized communicators. What should the participants take away from the meeting?

“I think that they already know that without science there is no future, but they need to learn that science needs communication with the general public as an essential part of the system. Without support from society there is no science”.


This year the periods of the first Severo Ochoa Awards will come to an end. What is the balance of the results of these awards? Do you think that they should be continued?

“I think that it was a good initiative which should be continued, and of course, adequately funded”.


What have Internet, and the new tools and social networks give to science journalism?

“They help the journalists to work because they have speedier access to information and its sources, so they can more quickly verify its contents. But they have also been a major and fantastic channel for popularization”.


As a specialist in the biography of interesting science popularizers, what do you think that Odón de Buen would say to the young journalists who will be participating in “100XCIENCIA”?

“Never give up. Write, read, study, and always work with the idea that tomorrow will be better”.


Coordination of interviews: Verónica Martín


Contact: info@100xciencia.com       Phone: +34 922605336; +34 660507549
100xCIENCIA Communicating Frontier Science. La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain), October 2015
Privacy policy