The Scientific Gap (Part 2)
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Written by Chris

October 16, 2012

I’ve recently begun a master’s program at the University of Amsterdam in Oceanography and Limnology. It has been a month and a half since coming back into the fold of intensive study. It is here that I have come to the realization of what I call the “scientific gap.” The university system is fundamentally engineered through design to produce research and tangible results. Through this process, universities have created a system of stepping stones for scientists. One must do their masters under PHD candidates and professors in order to work towards a vacancy for a PHD position, and following that, perhaps a position within an institution. Scientists use this scientific method to progress. It is an important step too, so that scientific results are properly peer checked and science can be found credible before moving forward. This creates a community that is responsible onto itself.

However, this also creates a scientific gap in which science remains within the scientific realm without a proper outlet into the public or policy driven domains. Since scientists depend on their community to continue working, their efforts are largely focused on that community rather than bringing the science into the public domain.

It was recently estimated in 2006 that there are roughly 1.3 million scientific publications a year and increasing with each subsequent year. One could argue that these publications offer the public the chance to engage in the learning process, but the vocabulary, journal fees, background information, and structure of a scientific paper makes it often difficult for even fellow scientists to access, let alone understand. I would argue that the scientific community needs to do a better job and take personal responsibility to make their relative field of study more available to the public in an effort to show people why an action on their part may be needed, helpful, and important regarding humanity’s future as well as the individual’s.

The content that I am being introduced to is fascinating and I find it also extremely relevant to the current livelihoods of people around the world.  I am currently taking a water management course for example in which we are discussing the future of water within the Netherlands.  Water is becoming a major issue globally as clean water becomes increasingly scares. I find the scientific content important to share as mainstream media. I also find myself already pulled into the scientific fold, encouraged by professors to create a master thesis that will get me a PHD placement so that I may continue onwards down the scientific rabbit hole. Regardless of where I end up, I have decided to do my part in bringing relevant scientific information to the public, primarily through this blog and hopefully as other means present themselves.

It is time we close the scientific gap so that our efforts to further human understanding of our world is not left to the far reaches of data bases collecting dust, but available in a easily accessible and public domain. It has already begun with concepts such as TED, TopDocumentaryFilms.com, and various science channels. We should step up to the plate and support this effort.

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