Scientist as communicators – A study on the role of researchers in the public space of communication

Scientist as communicators – A study on the role of researchers in the public space of communication

Author: Giuseppe Pellegrini – Observa Science in Society, Italy

Andrea Rubin – Università Cattolica Milano

Research on Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) has been focused on non-experts and mediators so far. The role of scientists as communicators has not been extensively explored yet. Although most of them are involved in communicative practices and there are no very accurate studies on how scientists communicate in the public sphere.

To address this issue, a study aimed to evaluate the researcher communication strategies in public events has been developed. The research was carried out as part of SHARPER (SHaring Researcher’s Passions for Excellence and Results), an Italian project developed in the framework of the European Researcher’s Night funded by the European Commission.

During these events, from 2014 to 2017, information about researcher expectation, preparation and communication strategies were collected. Moreover, the study recorded information on the event organization, management and development. All the outcomes were collected using an ethnographic approach, a type of qualitative research method that combines immersive observation and directed one-on-one interviews.

The results of the study showed several communication strategies that can be combined based on the researchers skills to adopt different communication styles and instruments.

Analyzing different formats of communication, the observation showed how scientists played their role in communicating science to non-experts in different contests: from formal to informal situation.

Overall the outcomes of this research allow to define some profiles of communicative scientists in their interaction with the public.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices