Author: Zahra Oliphant – Ministry of Science Energy and Technology, Jamaica

Naama Bar-On – Ms
Merav Dvori – Ms

Jamaica places high value on the importance of Science education since pre-independence. The first batch of 11 students graduated from the Science faculty of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1949 and by 2000, the institution had produced more than 9000 science students. This has positioned the university as the leading research institution in the country.

Although the quality of scientific research institutions in Jamaica ranks 52 of 137 (Global Competitive index 2017/18), the number of scientific publications/million population (<10) consistently underperforms below the target set by the country. Analysis of post-graduate statistics from UWI showed that, from 2010 to 2017, although the number of post-graduates increased cumulatively (538 produced by 2017), the number of Science and Technology publications is <100 per year (mean: 96.12).

An ongoing survey of current and past postgraduate students, has so far indicated that all respondents consider it important that their work be published. For those who indicated that they have not yet published, reasons for not doing so included lack of time, lack of motivation and negative feedback from their supervisor.

The Science and Technology curriculum at UWI is heavily focused on the subject matter while little attention is given to the need for a scientist to communicate their research to the outside world. This has been observed for courses at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The key questions of this research paper are:

  • To what extent is the importance of science communication emphasised in post-graduate studies?
  • What factors negatively influence a post-graduate’s decision to publish?
  • What measures can be put in place to ensure that a higher percentage of post-graduate students publish their research findings?

The University of the West Indies will be used as a model for answering the above questions using data available from the University, as well as findings of an ongoing post-graduate survey.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Teaching science communication

Author: Zahra Oliphant – Ministry of Science Energy and Technology, Jamaica

Within the western hemisphere, Jamaica has a history of scientific ‘firsts’, being among the first to commercialize electricity and to build a residential piped water system. Jamaica has contributed globally to the emerging field of nutraceuticals, particularly as it relates to diabetes and anti-cancer treatment. However, in light of the country’s scientific achievements, investment in scientific Research and Development (R&D) is low, amounting to less than 1% of GDP. This is also evinced by the low number of patents filed annually, averaging only 10 per million population.

In order for government, public bodies and investors to increase their level of investment in R&D, the importance of Science and Technology (S&T) has to be effectively communicated to these entities. Additionally, the public’s role in decision-making for S&T is underscored by how effectively the importance of science is communicated to the populace. It has been demonstrated in other jurisdictions that low public awareness of science is a reflection of low levels of R&D investment at the policy level. It is therefore important that the level of scientific awareness and literacy of the Jamaican populace be determined as this will set the baseline against which the effectiveness of future science programmes can be measured.

The poster for this visual talk will highlight the following as it relates to Jamaica:

  • History of Science and Scientific Achievements
  • Low R&D investments
  • Structure of the National S&T Survey to be carried out
  • Results of the pilot S&T survey on the public’s attitudes and awareness of science.
  • Preliminary conclusions linking public’s attitudes, knowledge and awareness of Science to low R&D investments, as well as, how effectively science is being communicated to the public based on pilot survey results.
  • Future Outlook: How the results of the national survey will assist the country with improving science communication and increasing investments in science.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication