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The gap between science and crisis management

Published: 02nd July 2020 Last updated: 02nd July 2020

A crisis like the one we are currently in seems to be a fantastic opportunity for researchers to profile themselves. Society is desperate for knowledge and universities have that. But can that knowledge be used in practice, and do we remember the lessons learned? 'We need watch out that we don’t soon have a pile of papers that no one reads’, says crisis expert Kenny Meesters in the recently published NWO journal 'Onderzoek' (Research).

Scientists have an important role to play in a crisis. Not only in predicting crises, but also in suggesting solutions. But you cannot let a crisis be run by researchers alone. ‘Many researchers are monodisciplinary, but a crisis is not’, says Meesters. Besides, there are many justifiable insights with different answers possible, even within a single discipline.

There is a gap between scientific insights and crisis management in practice. Research funding for the coronavirus crisis will therefore result in a mountain of scientific publications that will scarcely reach the practice of crisis management. How can we overcome this? ‘Crisis organisations should offer a listening ear to researchers even if that is difficult during a crisis. Universities must realise that they not only need people who are good in writing papers but also researchers who partly work in the field. Because insights from the field, in turn, inspire new research’, says Meesters. Fortunately, universities are joining forces in the corona research. And they are appointing contact people for the rapid disclosure and sharing of their knowledge.

Read the article 'Learning to deal with the unknown'