A Science Media Centre (SMC) is an independent communications office that helps ensure that the public has access to the best science through the media when science hits the headlines. There are several SMCs around the world: in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, Africa and Japan. Although each operates autonomously, they all come together in an international consortium. SMC Spain, launched by FECYT, has joined this network.
Yes, each SMC retains its independence, but we all share guiding principles with a clear mission: to enhance public debate and discussion of current affairs by bringing evidence-based information to the headlines.
We offer formats with varying degrees of depth and immediacy to cover science-related news. We produce these types of products now, with more to come in the future.
- Reactions: when science hits the headlines, we seek the point of view of different authoritative sources that assess the news with rigour and speed, according to the available evidence and outlining the accepted consensus and controversies in the scientific community.
- Expert voices: each one of these pieces is an in-depth, more relaxed analysis of a topical issue commented on by specialists in that subject. These ‘expert voices’ put news stories into context, especially those involving controversies of social interest, which can be easily misinterpreted.
- What we know: the SMC team produces explanatory articles on topical issues to answer society’s questions, with the necessary context and depth. The sources and resources used to produce the article are always provided.
- Resource library: guides on different scientific topics for journalists and communication departments. Also, hints and suggestions are aimed at research staff, to help them when dealing with the media.
- Briefings: we bring together journalists and scientific sources to answer questions and discuss current issues. These can be face-to-face or virtual. Registration is required.
The Creative Commons BY 4.0 licence allows them to be republished in whole or in part, citing SMC Spain as the source. In the case of content signed by an author, the media outlet must cite SMC Spain and the author. In addition, if the content is disseminated via the Internet, it must be linked to the SMC Spain website.
The Creative Commons BY 4.0 licence allows the contents to be republished in whole or in part, citing SMC Spain as the source. In the case of content signed by an author, the media outlet must cite SMC Spain and the author. In addition, if the content is disseminated via the Internet, it must be linked to the SMC Spain website.
The only specific agenda an SMC must have is to promote the dissemination of evidence-based science. Therefore, it must maintain its operational and editorial independence. This is achieved by:
- A statute that ensures the independence of SMC Spain, avoiding any kind of interference in its contents, whatever the subject matter.
- An Advisory Committee composed of a group of independent volunteer advisors from the fields of science, engineering, medicine, journalism, and communication, who provide expertise and advice.
In addition to independence in governance, another key element for SMCs is sustained funding over time. Some have achieved this through an external multi-funding model, with a cap on grants for each funding body, which ensures that their activity is not subject to the interests of any one institution.
Other SMCs operate with state public funding and small private donations. The Spanish SMC has been launched with funding from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT).
They are different media with different content: the SINC agency team produces news, reports, and interviews on different current scientific topics, while the editors of SMC Spain focus on gathering quick reactions from expert sources, write explanatory pieces that do not amount to reports (the ‘what we know’ articles) and write guides on different topics for researchers and journalists.
The only format they have in common is the opinion pieces written by scientists (called ‘expert voices’ in SMC Spain).
We provide you with reactions from specialised sources with different levels of depth: quick statements, explanations or analysis. You can prepare your articles by drawing on the resources we offer on how science works or how to cover the most recurring science topics. Sign up for our briefings to get your questions on current scientific issues answered by expert voices.