Letter: Labor Of Love

In "Scientists Should Spend More Time Communicating With The Public" (The Scientist, Jan. 8, 1990, page 15), John Wilkes offers some good reasons why scientists should spend more time communicating with the public, but does not mention one major reason why they do not: There is little financial reward for doing so. This is not a forceful reason for abandoning regular small tasks in communication, but it severly discourages any major project. In my own case, a successful book aimed at explainin

Hugh Crone
Mar 18, 1990

In "Scientists Should Spend More Time Communicating With The Public" (The Scientist, Jan. 8, 1990, page 15), John Wilkes offers some good reasons why scientists should spend more time communicating with the public, but does not mention one major reason why they do not: There is little financial reward for doing so. This is not a forceful reason for abandoning regular small tasks in communication, but it severly discourages any major project.

In my own case, a successful book aimed at explaining a scientific topic to the layperson (Chemicals and Society, London, Cambridge University, 1986) produced an estimated hourly wage of 10 cents, which was then taxed at 47 cents on the dollar -- not exactly encouragi= ng.

I would like to write more for the public, my publisher would like me to do so, my employer (the Australian Government) encourages me. Many writers (and not only science...

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