An Interview with Lynn Vavreck

The sixth interview is with Lynn Vavreck, professor of political science and communications studies at University of California, Los Angeles. She writes for both university presses and the New York Times. With John Sides7, she coauthored, The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election, which they wrote and released in real time during the election.

In this interview, Vavreck contends “that it is not any scientist’s job to make the results of his or her scientific work accessible to a layperson.” However, given that the discipline relies on public support, this is a place where APSA and universities can be doing more to help. Doing scientific research is a very different skill than being able to articulate the value of that research in plain English. To this end, Vavreck makes several proposals, including:

  • APSA ought to have a science writer on staff who can quickly read someone’s peer reviewed publications, understand why they are relevant and also complicated, and be able to prepare a press release or whatever is needed at that moment.
  • APSA should collect these short summaries/reviews, sort them topically, and make them available on APSA’s webpage so that media and others could find expert research quickly.
  • We could use e-journals for publishing results that are timely but not paradigm-changing. Lynn Vavreck was interviewed by Steve Friess who has written for Time, Politico, and many other outlets.

Click here to access the free special issue Let’s Be Heard! and read the interview.