From Classic to COVID-Related: Some Communication Highlights of the 2021 AAAS Meeting


Well before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) chose “Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems” as the theme of its 2021 annual meeting, held February 8–11. This theme gained new meaning with the pandemic’s advent, the resultant conversion of the meeting to an online event, and the inclusion of meeting content on coronavirus-related concerns. As in past years, though, the meeting included panels, workshops, and other sessions on topical and other aspects of the communication of science. The following are some highlights that might interest science editors and those in related realms. Institution, Journal, Reporter: Strategically Mitigating COVID-19 Misinformation By Christina B Sumners This session brought together a university public information officer, a journal press officer, and a freelance journalist to discuss the use of preprints in popular science communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sarah McQuate, a public information officer at the University of Washington, discussed how she decides whether to promote her faculty’s research at the preprint stage. Before the pandemic, the university’s news office had published only 1 press release on a preprint. Between March 2020 and February 2021, it published 7. McQuate listed the criteria each preprint had to meet: It had a trusted author with whom she had worked before. It had a timely message or findings necessary to share now, not after lengthy peer review. The research methods had to be standard in their field. The research findings had to be expected, or at least unsurprising. The preprint had to have […]

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