News Release 

AccessLab: New workshops to broaden access to scientific research

PLOS

A team from the transdisciplinary laboratory FoAM Kernow and the British Science Association detail how to run an innovative approach to understanding evidence called AccessLab in a paper published on May 28 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. The AccessLab project enables a broader range of people to access and use scientific research in their work and everyday lives.

Five trial AccessLabs have taken place for policy makers, media and journalists, marine sector participants, community groups, and artists. Through direct citizen-scientist pairings, AccessLab encourages people to come with their own science-related questions and work one-to-one with a science researcher to find and access trustworthy information together. Among the many who've benefited from AccessLabs' approach include a town councillor researching the impacts of building developments on the environment, a GP researching nutrition for advising patients with specific diseases, and a dancer and choreographer researching physiology and injuries.

The act of pairing science academics with local community members from other backgrounds helps build understanding and trust between groups, at a time where this relationship is under increasing threat from different political and economic currents in society. This process also exposes science researchers to the difficulties accessing their work and the importance of publishing research findings in a way that is more inclusive.

"AccessLab is a powerful example of researchers using their expertise to unlock skills in their local communities," the authors say in the paper. "The workshops focus on transferring research skills rather than subject-specific knowledge, highlighting that not having a science background doesn't need to be a barrier to understanding and using scientific knowledge."

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In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Biology: http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000258

Citation: Griffiths AGF, Modinou I, Heslop C, Brand C, Weatherill A, Baker K, et al. (2019) AccessLab: Workshops to broaden access to scientific research. PLoS Biol 17(5): e3000258. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000258

Funding: This work was funded by a FEAST Cornwall (https://feastcornwall.org/) grant to AGFG. This funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The work was also funded by a British Science Association (https://www.britishscienceassociation.org/) grant to AGFG. This funder joined the project as a partner and had input into the design and preparation of the manuscript. The work was also funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (https://nerc.ukri.org/) grant to the British Science Association and FoAM. This funder had a minor role in the workshop design but no further role in data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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