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Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  86 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Most scientists and researchers aren’t prepared to talk to the press or to policymakers—or to deal with backlash. Many researchers have the horror stories to prove it. What’s clear, according to Nancy Baron, is that scientists, journalists and public policymakers come from different cultures. They follow different sets of rules, pursue different goals, and speak their own ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 13th 2010 by Island Press
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Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Baron's book is a sort of how-to guide on ways in which academic scientists (or scientists of any kind, mainly ones focused in biology) can break out of the "ivory tower" and get involved with making their science available, relevant, and understandable to The Public. The book is simply and logically organized, focusing on ways to reach paper journalists, radio, politicians, and new-media outlets. I highly recommend this books for other scientists, even non-biology oriented ones. All of the exam ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The blurb for this book promised a "practical and entertaining guide to communicating science" explaining "how to engage your audience and explain why a particular finding matters". I was hoping for tips on how to write and speak when communicating scientific information to people who are not themselves experts in the field. You know, advice for public lectures, wide-appeal books, magazine articles – things like that. Unfortunately it turns out the 'explaining' was quite literal; while I was exp ...more
Lis Carey
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
The research scientists do often needs to be communicated to policy makers, the media, and the general public in order to be useful. Unfortunately, the way that scientists learn to communicate with their peers is generally diametrically opposed to how they need to communicate with those outside the scientific world. This book is aimed at helping them speak more effectively to the non-scientists among us.

Scientists and non-scientists frequently experience frustration and annoyance when trying to
Thomas Edmund
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
For many science may rank slightly lower than jigsaw puzzling in the dull topics category, however few sectors have been so consistently dogged by controversy throughout human history.

The conflict is inevitably the same, while the specifics may vary: What scientific evidence shows us contracts what is commonly believed, and often wanted to be the truth, and resistance is felt through the concentrated oppositional effort of those in power (whether petrol companies, religious groups or governments
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As a public health scientist, I’m very much interested in the ability to translate my work into something that can help the general population. This book aims to teach scientists about science communication, and it does quite a good job at that. A few pages in and I’m already super impressed by this book because Donald Kennedy – former editor-in-chief of Science – wrote the foreword. The book is also full of tips-and-tricks boxes, pictures, and tables for those who want to skim through. I was al ...more
Danielle T
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, science
This was the required reading for Karen MacLeod's Z599 seminar at Oregon State "Making Your Science Matter: Communicating Science". It's not coincidental that the course and this book's subtitle are similar; both Nancy and Karen work for COMPASS, an organization dedicated to smoothing the relationships between scientists and the media (or really, just teaching scientists how to talk better to nonscientists). If you can't go to the seminar or attend a COMPASS workshop, this book covers much of th ...more
This book is a really great resource for scientists. It details various ways that scientists can share their knowledge in different environment, and the best ways for them to do so. Having a science background, I started the book on the defensive. The further I read, however, the more I was won over by the practical advice, no-nonsense tone, and plethora of concrete examples from real-life cases. This book helps scientists to translate their often highly technical and specialized knowledge into ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book on training scientists to communicate with the outside world. Nancy Barron,, gives a no nonsense look into the media and how those of us who know almost nothing (good) about the media can benefit from using it. I am very impressed and will be talking to the scientists that I work with about it.

Escape From The Ivory Tower is an easy read. This should be expected as that is the point Barron tries to make through the book. Making science into something easy to expla
Nancy Baron provides an excellent resource for those who wish to communicate their academic work to a broader audience. The first part (chapters 1 & 2) provides the rationale for broadening your audience. Part 2 (chapters 3-7) details the difference between academic thinking and the motivations of politicians, journalists, and the broader public. It is important to note that Nancy avoids the typical assumption that those outside of academic need to be taught how to think or lectured to. Inst ...more
Sherryn Adair
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Escape from the Ivory Tower is an excellent guide written for environmental scientists, relevant for all scientists who should and have to interact with the non-scientific community, and - most important - applicable to anyone who has to explain in lay terms what it is that they do, why they do it and why it is important to anyone else. Ms. Baron's engaging, encouraging and optimistic guide to making what matters to scientists matter to the audience beyond academia or the lab is critical to maki ...more
Sam Anderson
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Back when I thought I might still become a research-heavy academic, I picked this up to learn how to do more with that research, and this book delivered! Baron does a great job of breaking down all the different professional interactions you might have with TV, radio, and newspaper journalists. What do they want from you? What should you be aware of during an interview, to get your message across and to be easy to work with? She includes first person passages from journalists and outspoken scien ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-related
Can I just assign this book to every scientist even remotely interested in doing outreach work? Because dang, is it ever helpful. And also not afraid to tell people that sometimes, they should maybe leave the outreach to others, which is a nice change from many other guides to science communication. Some people just aren't good at talking to people, and that's ok. But people who want to try shouldn't be afraid to, and that's where this book could really be helpful.
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Absolutely super helpful for anyone in science! This book gives a nice overview of how and why scientist should get out of the ivory tower or bubble that they are normally in and start communicating to the general public, journalists and policy makers. Only thing that might be more helpful than this book is attending the workshop on which it is based, but this is a nice introduction for sure ;)
Maggie Hesseling
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A great book on how to use the media. I found it especially enlightening considering my masters degree and immediately reccomended it to fellow students. Not only does it show how scientists communicate poorly, but it also indicates how they can improve. Conveying information can be challanging, but Baron makes it easy to pinpoint the issues and deal with them.
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has lots of good ideas and tips for conveying science to the public or journalists or other media. It was also a very enjoyable read overall.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended book for researchers. It contains a lot of information and new ideas on how to disseminate beyond the research journal. Good stories and interviews with scientists. Must read.
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm starting to browse around for post-graduation options, and I'm not sure I want to stay in academia. I've got a lot to think about...
Sherri Anderson
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a dry read but contained a lot of information to help me in my work.
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An EXCELLENT book. It is basically a how-to guide to dealing with the media, communicating effectively with non-scientists, promoting papers and getting involved in the political fray.
Erika Scheibe
rated it it was ok
Oct 14, 2017
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“Stepping outside your comfort zone to reach out can have tremendous payoffs. Whether you are building your network of media contacts, writing an opinion piece for a newspaper or blog, arranging a meeting with your local Congressman, or engaged in a media blitz around your latest paper, you'll generate ripples that can lead to surprising and gratifying results.” 0 likes
“When scientists ask whether they should blog, they are sometimes paralyzed: "Will I be wasting my time? Narcissistically navel-gazing? What might people say?" It is probably healthy to consider these questions when your reputation is on the line. On the other hand, the safest route is rarely a useful path for anyone who wants to make a difference. When it comes to blogging, researchers should balance skepticism with a clear-eyed assessment of the power and possibilities.” 0 likes
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