Science communication in digitalization research

Science communication in digitalization research

Who communicates what to whom, via which (digital) channels, in what role, and with what goals? The study is exploring science communication in the new, interdisciplinary, and dynamic field of digitalization research.

How research institutions, projects, and individual scholars communicate their findings and work to other colleagues, to researchers from other disciplines, and to various groups in society – this has changed fundamentally in recent years. This is due on the one hand to social upheavals and new demands being made on academia, and on the other to the fact that digital tools of production and dissemination are transforming the relationships between science, society, and the general public.

Science communication faces particular challenges in the (still) new field of digitalization research: digitalization permeates all areas of society, is extremely dynamic, and is very much confronted with the growing need to be interdisciplinary. These and other characteristics of the research field have direct consequences for the question of who communicates what to which target group, via which channels, with what aim and in what role, at what speed and frequency.

The project aims to provide an empirical survey of the field of science communication in the area of digitalization research, focusing not on “scholarly communication”, which is targeted at the academic community, but on communication that is targeted at groups outside the academic system and is the responsibility of research institutions and academics.

The study will ascertain which strategies, concepts and tools are used at the organizational level of research institutions, and what understanding of science communication lies at the heart of each activity, and will identify what distinguishes digitalization research from other research areas.

The project will draw on empirical studies that operate in the field of tension between the organizational and societal goals of science communication. Having so far taken place mainly through professional and functional groups, disciplines and subject areas, as well as the change from offline to online communication, these studies can provide individual ideas for our own investigation that can be used to construct our survey tools.

Using a combination of qualitative interviews with experts and the analysis of activities on social media, we can identify various dimensions of science communication. In September and October 2020, we will interview persons responsible for science communication at different research institutions (N = 12 – 15), and record for the same period the Twitter activities of about 100 accounts from the field of digitalization research.

The project’s empirical foundations make it compatible both with research on science communication and with the operational practice of a science communication that is evidence-based.