Many research institutes spend a great deal of human and financial resources to strengthen the professionalism of their public communication. The in-house departments they build up do much more than public relations work. With creativity and journalistic aplomb, they develop innovative and interactive formats: science cafés, videos, schoollabs, etc.

The objectives may vary according to the area of research, the social environment and reputation of an institute. In general, it is intended to encourage the public’s esteem for research. But an in-house department also has to promote the institute itself. Not only results and benefits of research must be clarified, it should also be communicated that critical debate is desirable. This involves a special challenge: encouraging criticism could be perceived as being disloyal.

But how effective are the efforts? How do scientists, how does the public benefit? What is the relationship between communication of content and marketing? Questions cry out for evaluation. This, however, is not always that easy, given the variety of formats and functions. If the objective is marketing of the institution, then indicators can be identified; if the scientific teaching of society is targeted, then it seems that evaluation can only be based on appropriate questions and discourse.

These challenges, along with possible responses, will be discussed in the session. Two approaches initiated at EURAC will be presented:
The first looks at the impacts of institutional science communication by analysing the structure and objectives of an institute and its communication in the context of its social environment. It has been proposed that first steps to optimise EURAC’s science communication could be achieved by surveying the insider’s view: thus EURAC communicators, managers and scientists were interviewed to obtain an overview of the current system for evaluating audience impact, and provide further recommendations (Paper: “Science communication without a sounding board? Approaching the evaluation of EURAC science communication”, Prof. Dr. Bettina Oppermann, Leibniz Universität Hannover).

The second approach takes a look at the concrete outputs of one specific format: the EURAC Science Café. An audience survey has been developed and implemented to shed light on the public’s experience (Paper: “Could applied research become tangible? First results of a survey conducted on the EURAC science café”, Giulia Dal Bò, EURAC research).

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Institutional communication and its evaluation
How do we measure how good we are?

Giulia Dal Bò   Eurac research

Bettina Oppermann   Leibniz Universität Hannover

Many research institutes spend a great deal of human and financial resources to strengthen the professionalism of their public communication. The in-house departments they build up do much more than public relations work. With creativity and journalistic aplomb, they develop innovative and interactive formats: science cafés, videos, schoollabs, etc.

The objectives may vary according to the area of research, the social environment and reputation of an institute. In general, it is intended to encourage the public’s esteem for research. But an in-house department also has to promote the institute itself. Not only results and benefits of research must be clarified, it should also be communicated that critical debate is desirable. This involves a special challenge: encouraging criticism could be perceived as being disloyal.

But how effective are the efforts? How do scientists, how does the public benefit? What is the relationship between communication of content and marketing? Questions cry out for evaluation. This, however, is not always that easy, given the variety of formats and functions. If the objective is marketing of the institution, then indicators can be identified; if the scientific teaching of society is targeted, then it seems that evaluation can only be based on appropriate questions and discourse.

These challenges, along with possible responses, will be discussed in the session. Two approaches initiated at EURAC will be presented:
The first looks at the impacts of institutional science communication by analysing the structure and objectives of an institute and its communication in the context of its social environment. It has been proposed that first steps to optimise EURAC’s science communication could be achieved by surveying the insider’s view: thus EURAC communicators, managers and scientists were interviewed to obtain an overview of the current system for evaluating audience impact, and provide further recommendations (Paper: “Science communication without a sounding board? Approaching the evaluation of EURAC science communication”, Prof. Dr. Bettina Oppermann, Leibniz Universität Hannover).

The second approach takes a look at the concrete outputs of one specific format: the EURAC Science Café. An audience survey has been developed and implemented to shed light on the public’s experience (Paper: “Could applied research become tangible? First results of a survey conducted on the EURAC science café”, Giulia Dal Bò, EURAC research).

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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