This paper addresses the practices and perceptions of science communication activities of researchers in a large health and life sciences research institute in Portugal, the Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular (IBMC). In particular, we focus on understanding how the attitudes, motivations, barriers and benefits identified and perceived by researchers are related to the different profiles of scientists’ practices and participation in such activities.

Using a web-based survey to all scientists at different career levels (from PhD students to faculty members, in a total of 225 respondents), we characterise the levels of participation of the researchers on science communication activities specifically aimed to the media, schools and the general public, on the basis of descriptive statistics. The resulting individual profiles identified are then related to individual characteristics, such as age, gender, career position and past training in science communication.

As a first conclusion, the study showed that the majority of researchers (86.4%) participated in science communication activities during the previous two years, demonstrating this to be a particularly active institution in this area, and most likely reflecting the explicit institutional policy which has placed science communication as an institutional priority.

Nevertheless, the results show quite distinct participation profiles, with five profiles identified based on individual participation: committed, active, regular, sporadic and potential communicator. While these profiles are based on different participation levels, they also reflect different attitudes and perceptions regarding science communication.

We highlight two main findings: researchers with higher levels of participation express more positive attitudes towards science communication than those with lower ones and; the affiliation institution plays an important role in the researcher’s level of participation by reaching out to the scientists and enticing them to enroll in the institutional science communication activities. These two conclusions suggest that scientists’ participation in science communication activities can strongly benefit from its context of institutional support.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Scientists’ participation in science communication activities
Perceptions follow the practices, the practice follows the policy

R. Portela   IBMC, Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular

T. Pereira   CES, Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra, Colégio de São Jerónimo

This paper addresses the practices and perceptions of science communication activities of researchers in a large health and life sciences research institute in Portugal, the Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular (IBMC). In particular, we focus on understanding how the attitudes, motivations, barriers and benefits identified and perceived by researchers are related to the different profiles of scientists’ practices and participation in such activities.

Using a web-based survey to all scientists at different career levels (from PhD students to faculty members, in a total of 225 respondents), we characterise the levels of participation of the researchers on science communication activities specifically aimed to the media, schools and the general public, on the basis of descriptive statistics. The resulting individual profiles identified are then related to individual characteristics, such as age, gender, career position and past training in science communication.

As a first conclusion, the study showed that the majority of researchers (86.4%) participated in science communication activities during the previous two years, demonstrating this to be a particularly active institution in this area, and most likely reflecting the explicit institutional policy which has placed science communication as an institutional priority.

Nevertheless, the results show quite distinct participation profiles, with five profiles identified based on individual participation: committed, active, regular, sporadic and potential communicator. While these profiles are based on different participation levels, they also reflect different attitudes and perceptions regarding science communication.

We highlight two main findings: researchers with higher levels of participation express more positive attitudes towards science communication than those with lower ones and; the affiliation institution plays an important role in the researcher’s level of participation by reaching out to the scientists and enticing them to enroll in the institutional science communication activities. These two conclusions suggest that scientists’ participation in science communication activities can strongly benefit from its context of institutional support.

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

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