Exploring the intersections: Researchers and communication professionals’ perspectives on the organizational role of science communication

Author: Kaisu Koivumäki – University of Oulu, Finland


  • Clare Wilkinson – The University of West of England, United Kingdom

In contemporary science communication, a wide range of personal, organizational and social drivers influence communications that are taking place, whilst performance-based funding policies including communication and impact activities, are spreading in Europe. However, there are shortages of academic research as to how different organizational and institutional environments shape the drivers of science communication in specific contexts.

This paper reports on research exploring the intersections between researchers and communication professionals’ perspectives on the objectives, funders, and organizational influences on their digital science communication practices. Exploring one context, a large inter-organizational research project in Finland, this paper presents data from semi-structured interviews with 17 researchers and 15 communication professionals.

Researchers and communication professionals identify subtly different sets of normative and deliberative drivers in their science communication practices. Funders appear to be influencing the aims, assumptions and cultures for science communication, at both organizational and individual levels sometimes bypassing the academic structures and organizations. The funders’ expectations may be perceived as somewhat artificial regarding grant applications and monitoring. This may decrease the academic community’s respect for science communication and lead to overhyping and marketization of research, and blur the objectives of communication. Communication professionals embraced the funders’ goals for societal impact, seeing the funders incentives as a helpful tool to compel science communication activities.

The preliminary results suggest that the general effect of changes in the way in which public communication and engagement, is perceived, defined and funded within the academia, may create challenges in generating a shared sense of purpose and identity amongst the numerous and short-term research projects, which can present fragmented images of research to the public, and cause unarticulated differences affecting the intersections amongst researchers and communication professionals.

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

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation