What can Czech science communicators learn from the UK?

Pavla Hubalkova and Edwin Colley hiking in the north of England in autumn 2023


By Sarah Fisher, science writer and content strategist, and Daniell Musaheb

21 March 2024


An interview with WIRED.cz editor Pavla Hubálková

  Photo courtesy of Pavla Hubálková

In October 2023, Scientia Scripta hosted Pavla Hubálková, editor of WIRED.cz. Pavla is a Czech science journalist and communicator who visited the UK to learn from the country’s long-established tradition in quality and evidence-led science communication.

We found a slot in Pavla’s busy schedule to hear more about her trip and what she learned…

What brought you to the UK?

I received a scholarship from a Czech journalistic organisation, the Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism (NFNZ), to explore science communication in Great Britain. I wanted to learn more about the UK’s approach to science communication, and to learn how to do it better myself. Professional science communication is a new concept in the Czech Republic.

Why do you think the Czech Republic lags when it comes to science communication?

In general, Czech science and innovation are at a good starting point; the public likes science, and they like reading about science. But at the same time, there is a gap between science and the public.

We do not have a strong tradition in professional or systematic science communication, and it is a slightly alien concept to people – they are not used to it. For some scientists, it is not a priority. UK science communicators tell me that it was similar for them, but many, many years ago. Now in the UK, you have connected networks that have evolved over time. Science communication is well-established here, and you are doing an excellent job! You are our role model in science communication.

Is the Czech Republic beginning to catch up? 

I think so! Scientists want to communicate, but they have no idea how to do it. Part of the reason for this scholarship is to investigate how it works in the UK and to learn some best practice. Of course, it is impossible to just cut and paste the UK model, because our culture is different, and the research system is different. But I think we can learn from each other, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. I want to build connections and take a more collaborative approach because it would be great to work this way.

Do you think the lack of knowledge of how to communicate is a barrier to the impact science and innovation could potentially have?

Yes, because communication is crucial even for science itself. Scientists from different fields have to find a common language. This principle is also valid for other audiences. 

There is a gap between academics and the general public, policymakers or people from business. We should show that science is everywhere, and that science is a normal part of our daily lives. It’s much easier to make decisions based on science and the facts science presents. It’s my goal to offer science in a way that people can understand and use for their decisions.

What was the goal of your visit to the UK?

My goal was to observe different types of scientific communication. For example, visiting a lot of museums and assessing their public outreach activities, from local communities to activities for children, and so on. I met academics researching science communication, which is pretty rare and new in the Czech Republic. Generally, I wanted to explore science communication from the broadest perspective.

Your trip was part of a larger project. What will its outcomes be?

Firstly, there are a lot of Czech scientists working in the UK whose stories I’d like to publish for Czech audiences. The second outcome will be more, broader stories about scientific projects, practices, and science communication.

Most of my articles are published in Czech and English, so I hope they will be interesting for UK researchers. I also post on social media and write a biweekly newsletter. The third outcome is workshops for students and researchers to help them understand the differences between the world of science and the world of media. When I was a PhD student, I was lost, I had no idea how to communicate or how media works. And of course, lastly, I will use all the tips and information I’ve picked up during my travels to become a better science communicator and science journalist myself.

Pavla is editor of Wired.cz and a writer for Charles University’s Forum magazine.

Find Pavla on LinkedIn

Read Pavla’s articles on Wired.cz