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A Scientist’s Guide for Engaging in Policy in the United States

Hetherington, Elizabeth D. and Phillips, Alexandra A. (2020) A Scientist’s Guide for Engaging in Policy in the United States. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7 . Art. No. 409. ISSN 2296-7745.

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Scientific research and expertise play a critical role in informing legislative decisions and guiding effective policy. However, significant communication gaps persist between scientists and policymakers. While interest in science policy among researchers has substantially increased in recent decades, traditional academic and research careers rarely provide formal training or exposure to the inner workings of government, public policy, or communicating scientific findings to broad audiences. Here, we offer 10 practical steps for scientists who want to engage in science policy efforts, with a focus on state and federal policy in the United States. We first include a primer to government structure and tailoring science communication for a policymaker audience. We then provide action-oriented steps that focus on arranging and successfully navigating meetings with government officials. Finally, we suggest structural steps in academia that would provide resources and support for students, researchers, and faculty who are interested in policy. We offer our perspective, as early-career marine scientists who have participated in policy discussions at state and federal levels and through the American Geophysical Union’s “Voices for Science” program. This guide offers potential pathways for engagement in science policy, and provides researchers with tangible actions to effectively reach stakeholders. Lastly, we hope to activate further conversations on best practices for policy engagement, particularly for researchers interested in careers at the science policy interface.

Item Type:Article
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Hetherington, Elizabeth D.0000-0001-7114-398X
Phillips, Alexandra A.0000-0001-5959-5238
Additional Information:© 2020 Hetherington and Phillips. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Received: 24 February 2020; Accepted: 12 May 2020; Published: 05 June 2020. We would like to thank the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and their Voices for Science program, of which both authors are 2019–2020 fellows. We especially thank Elizabeth Landau and Brittany Webster of AGU for their continued support and critical reviews of this manuscript, and Dr. Marika Schulhof for feedback on early drafts of the manuscript. Lastly, we thank our institutions, the California Institute of Technology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, their government relations office, and our advisors, Dr. Alex Sessions (California Institute of Technology) and Dr. Anela Choy (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) for supporting our participation in science policy efforts and the Voices for Science Program. The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: Author Contributions: EH developed the concept for this manuscript and contributed to the development of each section. AP designed figures and contributed to the development of each section. Writing and editing the manuscript was equally divided by EH and AP. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Funding: The American Geophysical Union’s “Voices for Science” program paid open-access fees for the publication of this article. Edited by: Tymon Zielinski, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS), Poland Reviewed by: Marcus Geoffrey Haward, University of Tasmania, Australia Elizabeth De Santo, Franklin & Marshall College, United States.
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American Geophysical UnionUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:science policy, government relations, policy engagement, science advocacy, United States policy
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200625-112849796
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Official Citation:Hetherington ED and Phillips AA (2020) A Scientist’s Guide for Engaging in Policy in the United States. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:409. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00409
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104048
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:25 Jun 2020 21:36
Last Modified:17 Nov 2020 23:25

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