Scientific Communication Beyond Academia. A report from the GENIE-funded Project: Scientific communication and metacognition: Thinking outside the box
This report presents the results of the first phase of a research project titled "Scientific communication and metacognition: Thinking outside the box", funded by Chalmers' Gender Initiative for Excellence (GENIE). Modern universities face a pressing need to disseminate scientific knowledge outside of academia—to the public, the industry, and governmental bodies. However, communication abilities are often undervalued in the training of future scientists. This research project aims to examine
... aims to examine how scientists engage in communication of science beyond academia, and how metacognition—humans' ability to reflect on and control our knowledge and cognition—facilitates the adaptation of their writing to different readers, contexts, and purposes. The objective of the first phase was to investigate what kinds of writing scientists do, beyond article publication. Using the public research repository of Chalmers University of Technology as database, we analyzed the types of non-academic genres that scientists produce, focusing on the categories magazine articles and newspaper article. Using a combination of content and genre analysis, we map this publication output by topic, audience and purpose. We identify a wide variety of "open science" publication types, with some common themes. Interestingly, the debate article seems to be a well-establsihed genre in this type of communication. Using network analysis, a method for bibliometric analysis, we identify collaborative practices for two departments that seem particularly active in dissemination of science beyond academia. These networks reveal differnt practices, suggesting a complex interaction between academic status of the author, disciplinary epistemology, and local academic culture. We conclude with some reflections about the roles that scientists are expected to assume in communicating beyond academia - as public intellectuals and/or pedagogues - and the kind of institutional support that may be needed to master these roles.