Public communication of science - not a priority of university PR in Taiwan
Yin-Yueh Lo – Shih Hsin University. Taiwan
Acknowledging the association between knowledge society and economic growth, the Taiwanese Government has begun to promote PCST. There is a call for more science popularization and other forms of interactions between science and the public such as dialogs and citizen science. Universities and publicly funded research centers outside the university system are crucial actors in science communication in terms of financial resources and access to scientists as knowledge-producers. This is particularly true in Taiwan because of its lack of quality science journalism. Yet, the science organizations' role in connecting science and society has received little attention in Taiwan so far. We therefore explored public information officers' understanding of their role and how science PR in Taiwan aims to connect science and the public. Twelve science PR professionals from 11 different organizations were interviewed. One result is that the priority of science communication – i.e. communication related to research – within the organizations' overall public relations activities is higher in the PR of research centers than in that of universities. The latter focus on their obvious relevance as educational institutions while the research centers' image depends on the excellence and social relevance of their research. Based on our preliminary results we argue that science PR cannot replace the observer role of science journalism but – considering the lack of quality science journalism in Taiwan – science PR may have a function in the provision of knowledge and in making science transparent to the public. Based on a grant from the Taiwanese Ministry of Science and Technology we currently continue our research with a more representative research design consisting of a content analysis of the websites of Taiwanese universities and research centers and a standardized online survey among PR professionals.