2.1 Communicating Science and Research – Specific Experiences
- Most of the scientists interviewed consider communication of their work to be very important, but report that they are most committed to communicating when the research area is of critical impact to society (e.g. health, nutrition) or controversial (e.g. nuclear energy).
Levels of interaction with the media
- There seem to be three levels of science-media interaction adopted by researchers.
- Circa one third of respondents have limited contact with the media. This group enjoys exposure in scientific circles, but is reactive to working with the wider media and has not been in contact with the media in the last 12 months. Having the support and resources of the institution that these researchers work for is critical to their ability and desire to communicate with the media.
- Nearly half of the sample has more frequent interaction with the popular media, but this is still episodic. Scientists in this group tend to receive some back-up from the institutions or projects for which they work but this is still not sufficient to generate stronger and more frequent links with the media.
- Approximately 20% of researchers enjoy an active interaction with the wider media. This group can be categorized as being adequately supported by their institutions and being proactive seekers of the links with the media.
The rationale for communication with the media
- Public accountability is commonly cited as the reason why scientists feel a need for wider communication actions, which aim to inform taxpayers of the results of the research they indirectly support.
- Providing information to correct or avoid misconceptions of science is another key motivator, particularly given their fear that scientific information is sensationalised if not provided by trustworthy sources.
- Some scientists also see public communication as important to attract young people to their scientific field. It is well known that there has been a reduction in science students in the last 10 years.
- The ‘knock-on’ potential effect of generating support for further funding is often cited as well. Communicating the results of research is important to inform the actual financers of the work and thus to ensure continued funding.
- There is no lead/single initiator of media coverage. Most scientists report that they both take initiatives themselves and respond to media approaches.
- The range of initiatives undertaken is wide. Preferred methods include the use of press releases, local and national interviews, school talks, specific occasions for user groups or stakeholders that help to shape the research, publications and broadcasting contributions.
- The majority of media interactions are managed by the organisations that employ the researchers, though some are led directly by individual researchers and these interactions are
more spontaneous and informal.
Table of Contents
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.2 ABOUT THE STUDY
1.3 PROFILE OF RESEARCHERS INTERVIEWED
2.0 SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
2.2 MEDIA COVERAGE OF SCIENCE
2.3 MEDIA COVERAGE OF EUROPEAN FUNDED SCIENCE
2.4 TYPES OF SUPPORT FOR SCIENTISTS IN COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
2.5 FUTURE CHALLENGES OF COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
2.6 SEGMENTATION OF RESPONSES ACCORDING TO RESEARCHER CHARACTERISTICS
3.0 INTERVIEW RESULTS
3.1 SCIENTISTS AND THE MEDIA – AN OVERALL VIEW
3.2 COMMUNICATING SCIENCE AND RESEARCH – SPECIFIC EXPERIENCES
3.3 MEDIA COVERAGE OF SCIENTIFIC TOPICS
3.4 MEDIA COVERAGE OF EUROPEAN FUNDED SCIENCE
3.5 TYPES OF SUPPORT FOR SCIENTISTS IN COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
3.6 FUTURE CHALLENGES OF COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
4.0 MAIN CONCLUSIONS
5.0 ANNEX – INTERVIEW DISCUSSION GUIDE