Testing Science Communication Strategies and Impact among Policymakers During a National Crisis

Duration: 2023 - Present
Funding: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator: Taylor Bishop Scott
Multiple Principal Investigator: Max Crowley
Multiple Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Long

hands typing out an email


By getting critical scientific information regarding a current national crisis into the hands of individuals that can act on it, science-based policies may improve the lives of individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

This project, led by the Research-to-Policy Collaboration, seeks to understand ways that scientists can better communicate about the pandemic with policymakers. The research team will explore the potential impact of this science dissemination effort by assessing how research gets used in legislative bills and public statements on the federal and state levels. They will analyze the data to understand how research is being used in different contexts, including equity-related legislation as well as other legislative efforts related to COVID-19.  

While the primary method involves random assignment to different messaging conditions via email and examining open- and click-rates, study findings could have implications for varied science communication formats such as brief written reports and oral presentations. The research team will test a full array of scientific messages related to COVID, drawing upon social science theories such as persuasion tactics and insider-outsider theory. They will also compare negative and positive bias, and solutions versus problem-focused messages.

In the video below (at 37 minutes), Principal Investigator Taylor Scott describes early findings, in a presentation titled, "Testing Science Communication Strategies among Legislators in the Era of COVID-19.")

Project Team