For Comment: Draft Charter for Science Communication in Australia



  1. Scientific knowledge is the common heritage of all people.
  2. The sharing, or communication, of scientific knowledge is as important as its discovery.
  3. The future of Australia depends on the equitable sharing and rapid adoption of sound scientific knowledge.
  4. Scientific knowledge should be communicated as truthfully, ethically, fairly and widely as practical for the benefit of Australia.
  5. The future of Australian science depends on its ability to shape itself to the needs, values and standards of Australians.
  6. The interests of the Australian people are higher than those of any individual, scientific institution, funding agency, commercial entity or government body.

Code of practice

Science communicators hold the future in our hands. We help to move the new knowledge generated by scientists to the people who need and will use it.  We spread awareness of new insights into Australia, humanity and the world we live in. We educate, inform, stimulate, challenge, inspire and warn. We are agents of change, transmitters of new technologies, heralds of ideas for a sustainable and prosperous society. We also help scientists to understand the needs and wishes of our society, so their science may serve it better.

We are professional communicators, journalists, writers and authors, teachers, lecturers, scientists and technologists, engineers, social scientists . We value scientific knowledge for itself and for the benefits it can bring society, and we recognise the potential harm it can cause if misapplied.

[J1] As science communicators we commit ourselves to:

  1. Communicate science truthfully, factually and professionally in the interests of all Australians
  2. Communicate science as widely as possible, in order to promote the useful, safe and rapid adoption of new knowledge and technologies for the benefit of Australia.
  3. Recognise that the Australian public through their taxes pay for most science and that their lives may be affected by it.  They are therefore owed a factual report or explanation.
  4. Encourage and assist scientists and scientific organisations to share the new knowledge they have gained through research with Australian governments, industry and the community as widely as possible.
  5. Encourage and assist scientists and other researchers to communicate their work to the public and other audiences in a skilful, informative and respectful fashion.
  6. Encourage scientific institutions to listen closely to community and national opinion about science in order to respond to the needs, wishes and concerns of Australia and promote the useful, rapid and safe adoption of new knowledge
  7. Observe and uphold high professional standards of honesty, integrity and fairness in the communication of science.
  8. Acknowledge that almost all technologies have potential downsides or capacity for misapplication, and communicate these accurately and in a balanced fashion, as well as the potential benefits.
  9. Not permit personal interest, belief, payment, suasion or coercion to undermine our commitment to truthfulness, fairness, balance or professional integrity in communicating science.
  10. Not allow commercial, bureaucratic or other organisational considerations to undermine the principle of providing a fair, truthful and balanced report to the Australian people.

Julian Cribb FTSE
January 30, 2008

[J1]This is a purely optional section, I was just trying to define who a science communicator is.