Communicating research results to the public generates a range of positive effects on the careers of university professors, according to a study carried out by researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Universidad de Valencia (UV), which analyzed the perception of university researchers who have participated in institutional communication campaigns.
This study, published in the latest issue of the journal InMediaciones de la comunicación, analyzes the perception that university faculty have regarding the role played by communication of the science, technology and innovation taking place at the Spanish public universities, through their offices of institutional communication and their Scientific Culture and Innovation Units (UCC+i) and its media impact. “Beyond the communication and dissemination that researchers themselves can undertake, the role that these institutions play in information and public communication, far from causing any type of negative effect, results in a range of positive effects on researchers’ careers by augmenting their visibility as well as their impact in the scientific community. As such, it improves their professional prestige and increases the likelihood of obtaining more funding for future lines of work,” the study pointed out.
In general, the majority of researchers (65.4%) perceive some type of benefit after having their research results published. “The most common benefit that they point to is that, thanks to these communication campaigns, their research becomes more known to other fellow researchers in Spain (46.5% of the cases), which can then lead to an increase in citations of their academic work by these colleagues. This is precisely one of the factors that determines the quality of a scientific article,” explained one of the study’s authors, Francisco Javier Alonso Flores, who is head of the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) that pertains to the UC3M Office of the Vice-President for Culture and Communication. In addition, one out of four researchers (27.2%) received requests to give talks on their related subjects after their work appeared in the communication media. Furthermore, one out of five (20.9%) were contacted by companies interested in their line of research, “which can improve synergy with industrial and business sector.”
As for any possible negative effects, a large majority of the researchers (84.7%) did not perceive that there were any. Specifically, fewer than one in ten of those surveyed (8.1%) felt that the communication media had distorted or incorrectly interpreted the research news. In general, the majority of the researchers (68.6%) stated that the communication media informs and represents the subjects they deal with well (42%) or very well, (26.6%), giving the journalists’ work a high score (7.7 out of 10). “Two out of three researchers (66.9%) think that information provided in the communication media on subjects related to specialized R+D+i in the past decade has improved. The vast majority (96.1%) believe that this type of specialized journalism is essential to properly deal with this kind of content,” observed Carolina Moreno Castro, one of the study’s authors and Full Professor of Journalism in the Department of Theory of Languages and Communication Sciences at the Universidad de Valencia.
“After carrying out statistical processing on all the responses and variables, we have found a significant difference in the opinion of those researchers who have participated in communications actions as opposed to those who have not done so. Those who have participated tend to rate the work of the university communicators and the communication media journalists more highly,” observed, Antonio Eleazar Serrano López, another of the study’s authors. Serrano Lopez is a professor in the UC3M Department of Library Science and Documentation, and a member of the Research Institute for Higher Education and Science (INAECU).
This study is based on responses from over 500 researchers in 20 Spanish public universities: Alcalá, Alicante, Autónoma de Barcelona, Autónoma de Madrid, Barcelona, Carlos III de Madrid, Complutense de Madrid, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén, Jaume I de Castellón, Málaga, Oviedo, Politécnica de Madrid, Politécnica de Valencia, Rey Juan Carlos, Rovira y Virgili, Sevilla, Valencia and Zaragoza.
La publicación de noticias sobre los resultados de I+D+i. ¿Cómo es percibida por los investigadores españoles? Alonso-Flores, Javier; Serrano-López, Antonio Eleazar; Moreno-Castro, Carolina. InMediaciones de la comunicación, Vol. 13, Nº. 2, 2018, págs. 115-140.