Alexander GERBER, Rhine-Waal University, Germany
Like any other research field come of age, science communication should also ask itself which patterns have characterised its development over the decades, which topics were ‘trending’, and which methodologies used. What can we tell about the strengths and weaknesses of sci-comm research, about its gaps and degrees of replication, etc.?
For the first time, questions like these have been answered empirically in an in-depth Field Analysis, published in 2020 (Gerber et al. 2020, https://sciencecomm.science/the-research-field), and very recently discussed further with leading scicomm scholars worldwide in webinars (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3dLWg0So4L-2zaYl7hYYA) that attracted hundreds of participants within just a few days.
In a bibliometric analysis, the content of more than 3,000 scholarly publications was coded by nine researchers, and the extensive body of grey literature screened systematically. A panel study discussed these results in two waves with 18 renowned science communication researchers worldwide. Furthermore, the Field Analysis reviewed previous research and compared its findings.
The proposed presentation and paper will summarise the main findings and recommendations, reflect on the recent expert webinars, and discuss with the Science&You participants about the implications for further meta-research on the SciComm field, such as long-tail phenomena, multi-lingual content analyses, and big data challenges to be addressed by means of machine learning.
One example for findings from the study: SciComm research has ‘matured’ as an academic field. Not only has the absolute number of journal papers increased significantly, particularly in the last 15 years, but this is especially the case for research studies.
Examples for ‘Grand Challenges’ identified in the study:
(1) Most research papers have reported ‘one-off’ studies compared to only 3% having a longitudinal design (a proportion that has even declined in the past 5 years). The study recommends more longitudinal, comparative and systemic research to understand how contents and channels, actors and audiences interrelate.
(2) The original Anglo-American leadership in sci-comm research has given way to a much more globally diverse scholarship. Particularly the share of publications by authors from Europe has increased: figures for the past five years of this data analysis, show Europe (51%) well in front of North America (29%).
The main research gaps identified by the study:
Systemic changes in digitalised media
Dis- and reintermediation
Policy impacts of science communication
Methods to evaluate scicomm in funding calls, proposals and reports
The speaker would prefer responding in English but is also open to receive questions and comments from participants in French.