Public engagement of science (PES) is a broad notion that covers several dimensions of the social outreach of scientific organisations. Theory development and empirical research is often divided in streams of literature focusing on different aspects of the so-called “third mission” of universities and public research centres. A first stream is related to public com- munication of science, interested mainly in dissemination  ractices and the promotion of science culture in society. A second stream focuses on the community engagement of re- search organizations. It studies the direct ction to resolve the practical needs of the surrounding civic society, using knowledge and resources accumulated by universities for special education, health care, social  ntegration and other social services. A third stream is related to knowledge transfer with firms and public administration. Although technology transfer and commercial relationships are not usually considered part of PES, the broader notion of knowledge transfer encompasses other not-for-profit relationships with firms that are useful for regional and local development, such us specialised training for small firms, xchange of human resources, social entrepreneurship and access to scientific instrumentation. On the side of the public administration there are also many possibilities of nowledge transfer, including training and applied research tailored specifically to inform social policies.

Studies on PES have been developed by different epistemic communities, resulting in diversified sets of indicators for capturing some of the above dimensions. In addition, most of the empirical endeavours are designed to measure public engagement of organisations as a whole, or some of their organisational units. Nevertheless, a common barrier for empirical research is that most of the activities are carried out by individuals. Many of them do not report their activities, making evaluations of the real contribution of public research organisations especially difficult. Therefore, it is still needed a comprehensive framework of indicators for PES, together with an perational procedure to capture the real behaviour of individuals and organisations.

The strategy of this paper is to develop a cross-fertilisation of approaches in order to build an integrated indicator framework. After the introduction, section 2 discuses the background ideas to connect public engagement of science with other pproaches. Section 3 analyses the three missions of public organisations: public dissemination, knowledge transfer and community engagement. Section 4 proposes measurements for specific activities and discusses the methodological options for empirical research. In the conclusions the possibilities for implementing this framework in specific rganisational sites are discussed.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Reconsidering public engagement in science
Developing an anlytical framework and a social indicator set for empirical research

Manuel Fernández-Esquinas   Institute for Advanced Social Studies, CSIC

Cristóbal Torres-Albero   Autonomous University of Madrid

Jesús Rey-Rocha   Centre for Hu- man and Social Sciences, CSIC

Public engagement of science (PES) is a broad notion that covers several dimensions of the social outreach of scientific organisations. Theory development and empirical research is often divided in streams of literature focusing on different aspects of the so-called “third mission” of universities and public research centres. A first stream is related to public com- munication of science, interested mainly in dissemination  ractices and the promotion of science culture in society. A second stream focuses on the community engagement of re- search organizations. It studies the direct ction to resolve the practical needs of the surrounding civic society, using knowledge and resources accumulated by universities for special education, health care, social  ntegration and other social services. A third stream is related to knowledge transfer with firms and public administration. Although technology transfer and commercial relationships are not usually considered part of PES, the broader notion of knowledge transfer encompasses other not-for-profit relationships with firms that are useful for regional and local development, such us specialised training for small firms, xchange of human resources, social entrepreneurship and access to scientific instrumentation. On the side of the public administration there are also many possibilities of nowledge transfer, including training and applied research tailored specifically to inform social policies.

Studies on PES have been developed by different epistemic communities, resulting in diversified sets of indicators for capturing some of the above dimensions. In addition, most of the empirical endeavours are designed to measure public engagement of organisations as a whole, or some of their organisational units. Nevertheless, a common barrier for empirical research is that most of the activities are carried out by individuals. Many of them do not report their activities, making evaluations of the real contribution of public research organisations especially difficult. Therefore, it is still needed a comprehensive framework of indicators for PES, together with an perational procedure to capture the real behaviour of individuals and organisations.

The strategy of this paper is to develop a cross-fertilisation of approaches in order to build an integrated indicator framework. After the introduction, section 2 discuses the background ideas to connect public engagement of science with other pproaches. Section 3 analyses the three missions of public organisations: public dissemination, knowledge transfer and community engagement. Section 4 proposes measurements for specific activities and discusses the methodological options for empirical research. In the conclusions the possibilities for implementing this framework in specific rganisational sites are discussed.

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