Background: Informing Science Outreach and Public Engagement (ISOTOPE) is an ongoing two‐year NESTA‐funded research project. Following an action research model the ISOTOPE project team includes a range of stakeholders in the co‐production—design, delivery and evaluation—of an online repository of critically informed practical advice for scientists and other practitioners who conduct science outreach and public engagement (SCOPE) activities.

Objective/hypothesis: In this presentation we discuss the rationale for the project and our approach, and then describe the methods for data collection and analysis, as well as key results from the initial questionnaire and focus group studies, respectively.

Methods: Initially, we have conducted a questionnaire and focus group study with a range of stakeholders, including (early career and experienced) scientists, science teachers, and professional science communicators, with the aim of investigating participants' perceptions and experiences of SCOPE.

Results: The preliminary results illustrate a mixed picture in terms of participants’ knowledge of SCOPE. Whilst the initial questionnaires show that participants arrived at the focus groups with some knowledge of SCOPE, in many cases this was characterised by a much clearer understanding of science outreach (deficit) when compared to public engagement (dialogue); a finding that is also supported by the data collected during the focus group interviews where participants also demonstrated experience of conducting deficit‐informed SCOPE activities.

Conclusions: The findings from this study resulted in a number of recommendations that are being used to guide the development and design of the prototype web portal resources.

Among these, we found evidence of confusion over the terminology of SCOPE and what this means in practice. We argue that a clearer (re)articulation of what SCOPE means in theory and practice for those conducting these types of activities may help to crystallize future definitions of key terms and concepts.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Practitioner perspectives on science outreach and public engagement
A focus group study

Richard Holliman   The Open University, UK

Eric Jensen   The Open University, UK

Peter Taylor   The Open University, UK

Background: Informing Science Outreach and Public Engagement (ISOTOPE) is an ongoing two‐year NESTA‐funded research project. Following an action research model the ISOTOPE project team includes a range of stakeholders in the co‐production—design, delivery and evaluation—of an online repository of critically informed practical advice for scientists and other practitioners who conduct science outreach and public engagement (SCOPE) activities.

Objective/hypothesis: In this presentation we discuss the rationale for the project and our approach, and then describe the methods for data collection and analysis, as well as key results from the initial questionnaire and focus group studies, respectively.

Methods: Initially, we have conducted a questionnaire and focus group study with a range of stakeholders, including (early career and experienced) scientists, science teachers, and professional science communicators, with the aim of investigating participants' perceptions and experiences of SCOPE.

Results: The preliminary results illustrate a mixed picture in terms of participants’ knowledge of SCOPE. Whilst the initial questionnaires show that participants arrived at the focus groups with some knowledge of SCOPE, in many cases this was characterised by a much clearer understanding of science outreach (deficit) when compared to public engagement (dialogue); a finding that is also supported by the data collected during the focus group interviews where participants also demonstrated experience of conducting deficit‐informed SCOPE activities.

Conclusions: The findings from this study resulted in a number of recommendations that are being used to guide the development and design of the prototype web portal resources.

Among these, we found evidence of confusion over the terminology of SCOPE and what this means in practice. We argue that a clearer (re)articulation of what SCOPE means in theory and practice for those conducting these types of activities may help to crystallize future definitions of key terms and concepts.

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

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