Science Communication & Television: Emerging opportunites for widening participation in research to realise research for all

Author: Jill Hurst – University of Kent, United Kingdom


  • Darren Griffin – University of Kent, United Kingdom
  • Andy Richards – KMTV, United Kingdom
  • Betty Woessner – University of Kent, United Kingdom

A declining printed press together with the popularity of social media, vlogging and You Tube has resulted in a rapid change in the way the public consumes science information. Within this changing landscape, however, television continues to be one of the most trusted mediums for science communication. Moreover, the desire for interesting and quality science content communicated directly by scientists themselves is growing. According to OFCOM, (the UK’s public service television broadcast regulator) mainstream television offers a limited range of scientific factual programmes particularly those that are research led. This gap, together with an evolving local UK television market, presents an opportunity for scholars to co-produce quality scientific televisual content. Doing so creates the potential to engage a mass audience with the research, while retaining the integrity of the underlying work.

This interactive workshop will demonstrate how University of Kent scientists, outreach and research professionals have teamed up with a regional television station to produce a series of cutting-edge, science documentaries.

While a body of literature exists on the impact of television content in the fields of public health and consumer marketing very little empirical work has investigated if, by using a pathway of public engagement, audience participation can be determined beyond raw viewing figures. Current commentary suggests the contrary. Nevertheless, the BBC’s Blue Planet, ‘plastic bag’ campaign’ indicates this is not the entire story.

In this session we will talk you through the planning and production stages of academic filmmaking. We will explore a range of public engagement and widening participation activities that have been used to create a dialogue with our audiences together with the challenges we have faced in building scientifically robust designs and evaluation methods.

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

Presentation type: Demonstration
Theme: Transformation