PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Science Policy

A Case Study in Serendipity: Environmental Researchers Use of Traditional and Social Media for Dissemination
Published: Friday, December 13, 2013
Author: Clare Wilkinson et al.

by Clare Wilkinson, Emma Weitkamp

In the face of demands for researchers to engage more actively with a wider range of publics and to capture different kinds of research impacts and engagements, we explored the ways a small number of environmental researchers use traditional and social media to disseminate research. A questionnaire was developed to investigate the impact of different media as a tool to broker contact between researchers and a variety of different stakeholders (for example, publics, other researchers, policymakers, journalists) as well as how researchers perceive that their use of these media has changed over the past five years. The questionnaire was sent to 504 researchers whose work had featured in a policy-oriented e-news service. 149 valid responses were received (29%). Coverage in traditional media (newspapers, broadcast) not only brokers contact with other journalists, but is a good source of contact from other researchers (n=47, 62%) and members of the public (n=36, 26%). Although the use of social media was limited amongst our sample, it did broker contact with other researchers (n=17, 47%) and the public (n=10, 28%). Nevertheless, few environmental researchers were actively using social media to disseminate their research findings, with many continuing to rely on academic journals and face-to-face communication to reach both academic and public audiences.