How to explain your Hep B research to non-experts

Dear all,

With the 2022 Research Showcase now open, I would just like to give some suggestions on explaining your research to the affected community.

Read the forum
Get to know the community you’re trying to inform. Spend some time reading over posts to understand what questions people are asking and what level of understanding they have.

Keep it simple
Actively work on bringing people on the journey with you. Introduce concepts with simple language. You are not being judged on looking like the smartest person in the room, but on promoting understanding!

Don’t over-promise
Especially for the affected community, it is important that we are not over-hyping our research. Over-promising risks dashing real hopes and strengthening anti-scientific sentiment. The community deserves an honest realistic view of the outcomes of research. Please err on the conservative side.

Do not focus on morbidity/mortality figures
From personal experience, it can be wearing on ones psyche to be constantly reminded of the risk of liver cancer and death when interacting with researchers. We do need to use these figures in grant writing and papers to convey the importance of what we’re doing to funders. However, this community (probably more than any other) already knows on an intimate level how important this is.

Don’t just write your post and leave it at that. Be involved with answering questions and explaining your research further. Have a conversation!

Respect and humility
The biomedical or scientific lens isn’t the only perspective out there (though it can feel that way when you’re talking to other researchers all day every day). There are other ways to look at the world, remain humble and try to empathise. The affected community are experts in their own right; they have a greater and deeper understanding of what it means to live with Hep B.

!! IMPORTANT EDIT: Additional rules for the Research Showcase !!

  1. Research showcase posts from industry need to start with a disclosure that they work for a company, in what capacity, and declare any other interests.
  2. Branded experimental compounds should not be named.
  3. Posts from industry should not have links to their own website (links to studies are OK)
  4. Posts mentioning therapeutics/cures require an additional section to explain what further research, trials, or regulatory procedures need to be done before this is available to everyone.

Happy to include any other tips and suggestions!


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Thank you Thomas. These are very wise and important suggestions.

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It’s not entirely under this umbrella, but I think that we should also:

Keep scientific debate within the “Expert chat” sub-forum
As experts, I think should do our best to present a consistent message to the affected community. It is our obligation to make sure that the advice we provide in this forum is not confusing and not damaging to the reputation of science and experts in general. I ask you to please be mindful of this and not undermine one another (or even give that impression) in the publicly-accessible space. Stick to well-established science and appropriately couch your statements where there is controversy or unclear data.

That said, as a researcher myself, I’m a proponent of scientific debate because that’s how we move forward. I also see this forum as a way for researchers to come together and participate in fruitful conversation. I ask that you keep the debates, alternate interpretations, and more technical discussions in the “Expert Chat” sub-forum (which is not viewable by the general public), where we are more understanding of the nature of scientific criticism.

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Great idea Thomas to have this Expert Chat space for @ScienceExperts ! Looking forward to some discourse here amongst the group!