Investigating the links between science communication actors and between actors and their audiences

Elena Milani, Andy Ridgway, Clare Wilkinson, Emma Weitkamp

The audiences reached by those engaged in science communication and the nature of the
connections with those audiences is of central importance to the science-society relationship.
It determines who is reading, listening and watching information about science but also
characterises those interactions. Do the interactions involve a one-directional ‘broadcast’ of
information from communicator to audience, or is the relationship more of a two-way approach
that fosters a more integrated relationship between science and society?

Report on the Working Practices, Motivations and
Challenges of those Engaged in Science Communication

Elena Milani, Andy Ridgway, Clare Wilkinson, Emma Weitkamp

The working practices of those engaged in the communication of science to non-expert audiences has important implications for the relationship between science and society. The research presented here explores these working practices and the motivations that underpin them across a wide range of science communicators in Europe. As such, it provides an insight into the nature of contemporary science communication and those who are involved with it. To find out about the working practices of science communicators, an online questionnaire was distributed in seven European countries; Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden and the UK. The largest number of respondents were press officers, followed by freelance communicators/writers and journalists/editors. The survey also gathered responses from researchers, university lecturers and professors as well as some who communicate science predominantly online, such as bloggers, YouTubers and social media influencers.

Report on incentive and disincentive structures for R&I stakeholders to engage in science communication

Tessa Roedema; Virgil Rerimassie; Frank Kupper

The contemporary science communication ecosystem is complex: science and society meet each other at
multiple interfaces, communication takes place in multiple directions and moreover, the different actors may
have widely differing ideologies and assumptions. In addition, digitalization is intensifying the – already
complex – dynamics in this ecosystem fundamentally. At the same time, digitalization also offers novel
possibilities for scientists and scientific institutions to communicate and engage with the public and other
stakeholders, and henceforth contribute to a better science-society relationship. Against this backdrop, this
study aims to examine what motivates scientists to engage with the public through the internet and online
media, and what holds them back herein.

Analysis of the status quo and demands for science communication training

Birte Fähnrich

WP 3.1 provides an overview of academic science communication programs in four RETHINK partnering countries (UK, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy) and Russia to analyze how available programs cope with the challenges of the “new” complex and digitalized communication environments. Based on a small sample study of 12 programs we show that science communication education is adapting promisingly to the new science communication landscape and related changes, and aims at teaching the students a profound understanding of the complexities of the new science communication dynamics. Programs largely implement content about digitalization and recent developments in their programs, although they rate their importance differently. However, related risks of science communication online are only taught to some extent, by encouraging students´ critical thinking about sources of information and interaction processes between communicators. We identified that most programs assess science communicator roles in line with co-creation and interaction with the public, but some programs also imply more traditional communicator roles of information disseminators. We can conclude that programs, overall, aim at providing their graduates with specific knowledge, competences and attitudes that will help them to serve as professional communicators in an increasingly complex science communication environment. However, further research is needed to assess how programs can ideally implement modules to convey the challenges of digitalization successfully to students. 

Scoping Report on the Science Communication Ecosystem

Andy Ridgway

Data collector(s)

Milani, Elena; Roedema, Tessa F. L.; Doedens, Mariël; Mazzonetto, Marzia; Sielicka-Baryłka, Klara; Lobo Antunes, Joana; Bohlin, Gustav; Bergman, Martin

The Scoping Report on the Science Communication Ecosystem represents an attempt to map the diversity of actors and the content they produce. The research conducted allows comparisons of the online science communication landscapes in different European countries (Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden, Poland, Serbia and Portugal) and has a broad focus; not only including the work of professional science communicators but also ‘alternative’ science communicators.