What is science missing?
Since mid 2018 I have been doing a postdoc at the department of Physical Geography of the University of Stockholm. Like many who left their home-country, I almost always spend my holidays in Friuli. During the summer holidays, I (re) started chatting about the Tagliamento with my sister Chiara, also a researcher, but in the field of natural hazards (and multi-risk, therefore used to estimating damage and risks from earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, floods ...). The holiday was spent talking about research ideas that could benefit science, but that were also of interest to those who make decisions and those who communicate them.
We developed a methodology (find here the framework) to compare the most used terms in various types of documents, and we tested this approach for documents that spoke of the Tagliamento. We found a certain coherence with regard to the issues discussed by legislative documents and newspaper articles, and a partial overlap between the issues discussed by scientific articles and newspapers. However, we found a disconnect between scientific articles and legislative texts, which indicates a lack of communication and a lack of connection between scientific research and governance.
The figure below, from figure 3 of the article, shows the partial correspondence between terms in scientific articles and in newspapers (left) and the good correspondence between terms in legislative documents and in newspapers (right).
Scaini et al., 2021. Front. Environ. Sci., 19 February 2021 https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2021.553822
Linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to Research, Newspapers, and Governance: The Case of the Last Free-Flowing Alpine River
This result has a practical value, as it shows that there is a lot to do to link what is done in the scientific world with the technical / political sphere that makes decisions, at least at the local level.
Our first vacation used as an exchange of scientific ideas led us to develop a small agenda for conservation and scientific communication regarding the Tagliamento river.
Here we are, as we disengage during one of the thousand remote meetings!
What is science missing? Lots of things, but certainly a good laugh too.