The strategically challenge of an effective knowledge transfer in external science communication
Scientific researchers are increasingly required to present their work in a clear, concise and comprehensible way, as it is their societal responsibility to foster sustainable public awareness of scientific results and to accomplish high credibility. Therefore, continuous Public Relations (PR) activities for science are important for effective transfer of research results for dissemination through the media and to the public (Peters, 2008). Contemporary research in the field of external science communication is primarily concerned with the relationship between science and media (Göpfert & RußMohl, 2000), the evaluation of PR activities or new PR concepts for science (Bühler et al., 2007; Hermannstädter, 2007). Two important aspects have remained unconsidered: the scientists’ attitude towards PR for science, and the implementation of PR activities—more precisely, the relationship between scientists and science communicators in the process of external science communication. The approach taken in my thesis is designed to examine the following research questions: Is the professional support by science communicators necessary? and What is the purpose of different PR strategies in relation to the respective disciplinary background? For this purpose, the project compares three Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) of the University of Bremen: the SFB/TR 8 Spatial Cognition, the SFB 597 Transformations of the State and the SFB 637 Autonomous Logistics. In Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) funds CRC, which are defined as: “[...] institutions established at universities for a period of up to 12 years that enable researchers to pursue an outstanding research programme [sic!], crossing the boundaries of disciplines, institutes, departments and faculties. They facilitate scientifically ambitious, complex, long-term research by concentrating and coordinating the resources available at a university. Universities submitting a proposal are expected to provide appropriate core support” (DFG, 2010). Thus, CRCs instantiate scientific work that should be communicated to the public and DFG consequently funds PR activities and positions in CRC. For this investigation, the selected CRC at the University of Bremen are interesting cases due to their differences with regard to thematic orientation and PR strategies. The examination will provide insight into the differences in the external science communication of different research fields, and their effectiveness and challenges.