Researchers sharing results should strive to inform their audiences rather than persuade them with partisan reporting. The goal should not be to change beliefs, but to provide people with information that they can determine themselves how best to respond to. This means avoiding neat, tidy narratives and focusing instead of honesty and transparency.
This approach, dubbed "evidence communication" by Blastland et al., is characterized by transparency around the motivation of the researchers, a frank depiction of uncertainties, and open identification of conflicts and contradictions. The aim is to "inform rather than persuade" and to promote trust in the researchers and their work.
Misunderstandings and misconceptions should be anticipated and "pre-bunked," and findings should be presented in totality rather than cherry-picked to best support an argument. Pros and cons should be identified and presented side-by-side to enable the audience to make the best choice. Sources should be clearly identified, and the strength (or weakness) of the evidence delivered with "unapologetic uncertainty."
- Expressing uncertainty doesn't undermine authority - Blastland et al. found that identifying uncertainties did not undermine audience trust in the research
- Narrative helps the human mind make sense of events - Narratives simplify, but in so doing help us comprehend complexity
- Narratives enable us to act decisively in conditions of uncertainty - When driving action, narratives may help promote decisiveness
- Narrative sequencing informs meaning - The arrangement of insights informs how we interpret them; our aims—persuasion or information—inform that arrangement.
Blastland, Michael, Alexandra L. J. Freeman, Sander van der Linden, Theresa M. Marteau, and David Spiegelhalter. “Five Rules for Evidence Communication.” Nature 587, no. 7834 (November 2020): 362–64. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-03189-1.