There are many organizations that directly support science outreach efforts, from governmental bodies to family foundations. However, for those who seek funding, it can often be incredibly challenging to prepare the “right” proposal. As an attempt to provide tangible feedback from science outreach stakeholders to funding organizations, we recommend the following:
1. Provide accessible examples of outcome scenarios to help potential awardees have more focused, relevant, and practical metrics around their science outreach efforts.
A common challenge for practitioners of science outreach when preparing funding proposals is designing a strategy to determine metrics of impact. Typically, there is a clear distinction between practitioners and researchers within the science outreach field, and for those squarely in the “practice” space, evaluation and assessment can be a foreign language. Funders can help remove barriers by summarizing example outcomes of previously funded projects, or generate a few fictional example scenarios for new contexts. Making proposal expectations more clear will not only elevate the quality of submitted proposals, it will also help support those spearheading emerging science outreach initiatives. While clarity in funding guidelines should always be a priority, the latter point is particularly important to help pave the way for innovation and diversity in science outreach.
2. Promote metrics of impact that focus on inward stakeholder groups.
Fostering a positive relationship between institutions of science and diverse outward stakeholder audiences is a universal goal. However, there are many ways in which this can be accomplished, and measuring outcomes pertaining to human behavior is tricky. Shifting evaluation efforts toward inward stakeholders — at both the individual and institutional levels — provides a more clear picture on what strategies can be effective in promoting an inclusive scientific culture. This is particularly important when considering recruitment and retention of historically minoritized groups. Science outreach can be an effective vehicle for promoting a culturally inclusive scientific environment that supports the training and retention of diverse groups in science. These metrics are likely more accessible and straightforward than understanding the impact of science outreach on outward stakeholders, and should be promoted as a valid strategy for impact.
This is an excerpt from the SciOut18 White Paper: Recommendations for the Continued Professionalization of Science Outreach within the Scientific Enterprise which can be downloaded in its entirety in the Save & Share sidebar