PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


When scientists speak to the public. Assessing expectations and results of public communication in an Horizon 2020 project

Giuseppe Pellegrini  

One of the main action of the H2020 programme is the Researchers night, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie action that involve researchers and the public in a pan-European event taking place on the last Friday Night of September in about 300 cities. The main objective of the initiative is «Bringing the researchers closer to the general public and increasing awareness of the research and innovation activities with a view to supporting the public recognition of researchers, creating an understanding of the impact of researchers' work on daily life and encouraging young people to embark on scientific careers». This work presents experimental results on the assessment of the Sharper project that involved researchers and the public of three Italian cities during the Researchers night in 2014 and 2015. We will show a system for identifying the relationship among expectations of the public, process factors and outcomes of the public communication activities. This way it will be possible to analyse the mismatch between the interest of the public and the researchers' aims of providing an effective communication. Quantitative data have been collected with pre-post questionnaires integrated with results taken with interviews and participants observations charts used during the activities. Data coming from the first round of the Researchers night show that, in 1-10 scale, those who had lower expectations (1-6) on understanding the researchers' job have been more satisfied on comparing with their first perception on average. Whereas, those who had higher expectations (8-10), have later reconsidered them. More in detail it will be relevant to analyse the researchers' expectations and the self-reflection on the process of communication regarding different initiatives that took place during the event. These data allow us to identify elements of success and critical issues that permit balanced communication, highlighting what are the meeting points between the public and researchers.

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