ENJOI 2nd Engagement Workshop, Belgium

July 31, 2022
Maria Zolotonosa

The 2nd ENJOI Engagement Workshop was held in Bruxelles, Belgium, in 29 March 2022. Co-creating the standards, principles and indicators in science communication and journalism

Stickydot started the challenge of organising the Engagement Workshop in Belgium with the internal exercise of mapping science communicators . Over 100 participants from different fields of science communication, different parts of the country and speaking different languages were invited.

Credits: Ateliers des Tanneurs

We were so excited to organise the very first in-person event in a long time in the beautiful Ateliers des Tanneurs in the historical neighbourhood of Brussels - Les Marolles. This former Art Nouveau, Old Wine Palace now hosts an organic market, various start-ups and an events space. The start was a bit bumpy as we had 6 last-minute Covid-related cancellations. Nevertheless, 12 participants were there. It was 10 am and people started showing up for our welcome breakfast. The room smelled of croissants and fresh coffee, and it started buzzing with people. French, Dutch and English were spoken at the same time.


The ENJOI EW in Belgium: participants

Our 12 participants came from universities, funding agencies, journalism, and NGOs and made a diverse group of science communicators. Some knew each other from before but for most of the participants, including us, the organisers, it was the first time we had met. We broke the ice with a nice activity where people not only got the chance to introduce themselves but also show off their drawing skills. The atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed, participants seemed to be chatting away and having a good time.

The first exercise was about looking at the results of the short questionnaire we sent out to citizens prior to the workshop. We asked citizens about a recent piece of science communication they experienced and what made it good. Citizens named many elements, among which there were “Clarity of information”, “Reliability of the content and source”,  and “Trustworthiness”. This sparked interesting discussions among the participants before moving on to the next exercise.


Belgian EW Module 1: Co-creating Principles

Our first mission was to think about the principles behind excellent science communication. We tasked the participants with brainstorming about the big idea and what’s really important for science communication. Some of the most voted principles were:

  • Evidence base
  • Transparency
  • Engagement
  • Clarity
  • Appealing format

As we see, there were quite a few similarities between what citizens thought was essential and what the participants found important.


Belgian EW Module 2: Identifying Standards

The next challenge was to try and brainstorm standards to achieve those principles. Participants split into groups and looked at scenarios of professionals that were charged with producing pieces of science communication. Marta was writing a local news article on COVID-19 vaccines or Issam who was preparing a TV news piece on odour pollution. We tried to think of standards that those professionals needed to meet in order to achieve the biggest impact with their work. The outcomes for three of the principles were the following:

Standards for Evidence-base:

  • Use a variety of scientific sources (4)
  • Informative of where to find additional information (2)
  • Representative and qualitative sources (3)

Standards for Transparency

  • Reputation/integrity/code of conduct of a news outlet is important (4)
  • Honesty about difficulties (4)
  • Experts' voice is present (they talk and interact) (2)

Standards for Engagement

  • Relatable (5)
  • Engage the community around doubts and fears (4)
  • Think about the longevity of articles online (3)
  • Solutions-oriented (empowerment and agency) (3)
  • “Podium” for all stakeholders (3)


Belgian EW Module 3: Defining Indicators

Finally, we tried to work out how to measure these standards and principles. What questions do you have to ask yourself in order to know whether as a practitioner you have met a certain principle in your work or not? We found the indicators for measuring Engagement particularly hard and interesting at the same time:

  • Did the the scicomm piece provoke changes in attitude, and actions taken by users? (measure changes in attitude and actions people took)
  • What is the number of comments related to the scicomm piece (as a sign of controversy and interest)?
  • Was there a vocabulary check? Did the people understand the piece?
  • Follow-up with the group: what do users remember?
  • Evaluation: visitor numbers
  • Quality of the comments
  • Does the scicomm piece provide a link with researchers for a follow-up?


Belgian EW take-home message

This workshop was a great starting point for discussions on SPIs for excellent open science communication. Not only made it a great contribution to the topic but it also facilitated encounters and exchanges that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Mixing journalists and other types of science communicators ensured interesting and useful discussions. Now, it’s the job of the ENJOI project to analyse all the results and come up with useful and good-quality tools for the improvement of science communication.


Workshop developed by Maria Zolontosa and Michael Creek

EW pictures by Anne Dijkstra and Maria Zolotonosa



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