Guest piece by 3M

British Science Week Major Partner 3M has released its annual State of Science Index (SOSI) which has revealed many Britons are keen to engage more with science but believe that scientists must do more to demystify their work. Read more about their findings below...


As a science-based technology company, 3M is very interested in the world’s perception of science and its impact on our lives and the world around us. We conduct an annual, independently researched survey of more than 14,000 people in 14 countries to gauge shifting global attitudes towards science.

The survey findings revealed Brits believe scientists must demystify their work

Among the 2019 annual State of Science Index (SOSI) findings for the UK is the view that science needs an image revamp. The general profile of science is damaging its appeal both in terms of public interest in the topic, and also how Britons view scientists themselves. Almost half of Britons surveyed (46 per cent) believe that scientists are elitists, and 89 per cent say scientists must communicate results in simple, easier-to-understand language.

Despite this, the findings make it clear that the UK is still an inquisitive nation, and there is an obvious appetite among Brits to engage more with science, with 83 per cent of respondents saying scientists should make science more relatable to everyday life.

Effective science communication is crucial to inform and inspire people

How can we help make communicating the value of science to the world a less daunting task? And how can we not only earn more support for scientific pursuits, but also appeal to a wider population?

Storytelling is increasingly being promoted as the solution. But some are concerned that stories can distort or oversimplify. “The plural of anecdote,” as some have said, “is not data.” So, when should we use narrative to communicate science? And how can stories help us maintain our credibility, increase understanding and influence behaviour?

3M has developed a range of resources to help scientists become better storytellers and communicate to the public in language that’s engaging and easy to understand. One of the resources is a recorded webinar from writer and trainer Alan Barker.

Find out how to incorporate storytelling into your communications

In the webinar, titled, ‘Storytelling for Scientists’, you’ll learn how to:

  • Optimise the way we use narrative to understand the world
  • Adapt stories to different audiences and objectives
  • Construct stories to generate meaning
  • Use narrative in different ways
  • Combine narrative with explanation and persuasion

For access to the webinar recording click here or watch below.

Alan Barker is a writer, trainer and coach specialising in communication skills.

We’ve also developed a Scientists as Storytellers guide, with practical advice from top communicators and scientists around the globe, available to download for free here.

To find out more about the 2019 SOSI research, you can explore the full study data, including individual country breakdowns at