Scientists’ views on their own engagement in science communication and outreach activities

Scientists’ views on their own engagement in science communication and outreach activities

Author: Friederike Hendriks – University of Münster, Germany

Rainer Bromme – University of Münster, Germany
Dorothe Kienhues – University of Münster, Germany
Doris Niederhoff – University of Münster, Germany

We present an interview study that focused on views of researchers on outreach activities (OA), especially their perceptions on how taking part in OA had affected their motivations and their scientific work and their collaboration and communication with colleagues of other disciplines.

The study was conducted in the context of two large German interdisciplinary research groups in the field of biomedicine. In these groups, OA (for example exhibitions, school workshops, press releases) had been organized by science communication professionals, in close cooperation with researchers. We interviewed 75 researchers (PhD Students, PostDocs, and Professors) from several scientific fields (e.g. medicine, chemistry, mathematics, information sciences). 75% of them had actively taken part in OA at least once.

We questioned researchers on effects of OA a) on themselves and their scientific work and b) on communication and cooperation in their large research groups. In addition to open ended questions, researchers were asked to state their agreement to items on scales reaching from not at all (1) to very much (5).

We found that 45% of researchers agreed very much (5) that following OA they had “experienced joy and personal satisfaction”, but only 17% agreed (4 or 5) that they had been able to “generate new ideas”. Albeit OA being clearly directed at the general public, active engagement positively affected communication within the research groups: 35% of researchers agreed very much (5) that as a result from taking part in OA they could “better understand the work of researchers from other disciplines”.

We also inquired which effects of OA researchers assumed for the general public, and their attitudes toward communicating science.

We will discuss the importance of investigating attitudes and motivations that researchers have toward OA, and how positive attitudes toward communicating science and (their own) research might be fostered.

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

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