How to Protect the Right of Citizens to Know in Science Policy Formation: Requirements for Designing the Opportunities for Expert Explanation

By Yuko Shimabayashi and Hiroyuki Torii.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study proposes approaches to designing opportunities for experts to provide citizens with information and knowledge of policymaking in Japan appropriately, based on scientific understanding. The objective of creating such opportunities is to protect the citizens’ right to know in a modern society in which science and civic life mutually relate in numerous complex ways. Based on results of social research conducted by the author in 2006 covering all of Japan, the media, means, and persons used to provide information demanded by the citizens were examined. The results indicate a high demand for newspapers, television programs, and briefings as media for receiving information. There is also an indication that the demand by citizens is not as high for wider use of the internet, a mode which the government is currently attempting to use more. It is important that those who deliver information offer some alternative means for citizens to receive the information. Those who present an explanation further need to prepare materials that concisely describe the essential information, rather than pouring a large amount of information on the audience. Results of the study show that the presenters of the explanations preferred by citizens are experts (scientists). These results suggest two aspects that should be considered when designing the opportunity for explanation. First is that the media and methods used to provide information should be sufficiently familiar to the audience so as to avoid excessive burdens and that the speakers and audience should maintain an interactive relationship. Secondly, when planning the explanation, the experts who provide information must expect to incur certain costs for citizens to understand accurately what is being explained.

Keywords: Science Policy, Social Responsibility, Right to Know, Explanation, Communication, Expert, Scientist

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp.125-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.037MB).

Yuko Shimabayashi

Doctoral student, Associate fellow, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Center for Research and Development Strategy, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan

Yuko Shimabayashi received her bachelor's degree (2001) and master's degree (2003) in agriculture from Kyoto University. She got into Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). While she is working for the funding for science and technology (S&T) R&D in JST, she researches on the ideal relation between S&T and society as a doctoral student in Tokyo Institute of Technology. Her interests are in S&T professional social responsibility. Especially, she has focused on the method to realize the communication between S&T and society.

Prof. Hiroyuki Torii

Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan


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