Background: Financiers of research can enforce and facilitate researchers work on science communication. They can have strong economical influence but although governmental funded financiers have regulations that oblige them to work actively with these matters they tend to neglect it.

Objective: This is why a major governmental research‐funding agency took an initiative to develop methods that facilitate and support researchers own work with information and communication and promote an active knowledge transfer and a dialogue with the potential users of the research results.

Methods: Thirty‐two projects were randomly selected from projects that received grants in 2003. Half of them, the experimental group, were offered an information package and the other projects acted as a control group.

The experimental group met one day a year during three years time. The content varied but every meeting had some theoretical reflections on science communication and one very practical moment. An information expert contacted them regularly and gave free support during the three years.

Results: There was a big variety between the projects concerning the intensity of information work in both groups. A major distinction was that information activities in the experimental group were highly organized. They all had a person responsible for information and many projects had structured plans for communication.

Conclusions: The projects had very different prerequisites for information activities and the support had do be different and individually adjusted. A decisive factor for success was the ability to identify each projects special prerequisites. An external expert can here play an important role but it takes a good deal of listening, flexibility and not at least a good portion of creativity. If every project with grants from this financier were given the same help it would cost 1 % of the research budget which leads to a discussion about the conflict between support to research or/and information.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Research funding agencies as enforcers and facilitators for science communication

Thomas Tydén   Dalarna Research Institute

Background: Financiers of research can enforce and facilitate researchers work on science communication. They can have strong economical influence but although governmental funded financiers have regulations that oblige them to work actively with these matters they tend to neglect it.

Objective: This is why a major governmental research‐funding agency took an initiative to develop methods that facilitate and support researchers own work with information and communication and promote an active knowledge transfer and a dialogue with the potential users of the research results.

Methods: Thirty‐two projects were randomly selected from projects that received grants in 2003. Half of them, the experimental group, were offered an information package and the other projects acted as a control group.

The experimental group met one day a year during three years time. The content varied but every meeting had some theoretical reflections on science communication and one very practical moment. An information expert contacted them regularly and gave free support during the three years.

Results: There was a big variety between the projects concerning the intensity of information work in both groups. A major distinction was that information activities in the experimental group were highly organized. They all had a person responsible for information and many projects had structured plans for communication.

Conclusions: The projects had very different prerequisites for information activities and the support had do be different and individually adjusted. A decisive factor for success was the ability to identify each projects special prerequisites. An external expert can here play an important role but it takes a good deal of listening, flexibility and not at least a good portion of creativity. If every project with grants from this financier were given the same help it would cost 1 % of the research budget which leads to a discussion about the conflict between support to research or/and information.

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

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