Between transmitting knowledge and rethinking science in society: Practices and visions emerging from Research Institutes’ online communication. A survey within the Italian National Research Council.

Author: Valentina Grasso – Italian National Research Council, Institute of Bioeconomy; Consorzio LaMMA, Italy


  • Alba L’Astorina – Italian National Research Council, Institute for Remote Sensing of Environment, Italy
  • Rita Rita Giuffredi – Italian National Research Council, Institute for Remote Sensing of Environment, Italy

A decade has passed since the first systematic survey about science communication practices – and the underlying visions of science-society interplay – was realized within the Italian National Research Council (CNR). In particular, the study investigated the aim of outreach activities and their organizational framework; the types of communication practices adopted and the imaginaries of scientists towards science. Results showed a scientific community scarcely involved in public communication activities, interested in “educating the public”, with low trust in non-experts when it came to making decisions about the future of science and society.

Ten years later, the reflections about science communication evolved and the media ecosystem dramatically changed, with the outburst of social networks and mobile applications, strongly impacting also on how science and society interact. Science communication practices and visions developed, oriented to the hybridisation of expert and non-expert knowledge (e.g. RRI, citizen science).

Against this background, in 2019 we promoted a survey to investigate if and how public communication of the scientific network of the Italian CNR has changed in response to technological transformations and to the increasing call for public engagement. The analysis explored the research Institutes’ websites as the primary interface of public communication, through quantitative and qualitative analysis. Even if online descriptions of communication activities may not strictly reflect their actual nature, the type of contents chosen to be published on websites and the frames employed to describe them can be considered as a sensitive litmus paper of the underlying science communication and science-society paradigms. As results showed, communication of science gained some spaces in the last decade, but opportunities opened up by digital technologies seem not to be fully embraced yet, with research institutes struggling between institutional communication and engaging the public, transferring knowledge, and educating the public.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Transformation