Universities tell about science more efficiently than scientific institutions


Коммуникационная лаборатория

The number of publications on science in the Russian media is growing, mainly due to the efforts of universities; however, the quotation of research institutions has declined. This trend has been revealed by the analysts of the educational networking project for the development of scientific communications "Communication laboratory", which is being implemented by RVC in cooperation with SPN Communications.

The annual study of the current state of the Russian scientific communications is carried out to determine the dynamics of quantitative and qualitative indicators of the industry and identify the best practices of the scientific and educational organizations' work with external audiences.

The last studied period from May 1, 2014 to May 1, 2015 has demonstrated a significant, positive trend in the representation of the theme of science and education in the Russian media. The number of publications on scientific and educational topics as opposed to the same previous period (May 2013-April 2014) has increased by 3%, while the share of publications devoted to the exact sciences has increased by 6% and reached 12%.

Among the key players in media field associated with the scientific and educational subjects, are still the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov, and the Higher School of Economics. The rating has been also represented by a bigger number of regional universities, compared with the same period of the previous studies, in particular, the number of publications of the Tomsk State University has increased by 49%, and meanwhile, the number of references to the Ural Federal University in the media has increased by 30.9%. Scientific and Research Institutes (SRIs) in the ranking of the key players are in the minority, which reflects the generally lower representation of SRIs in the information space, compared with educational institutions.

The share of quotation of universities with respect to scientific projects has come to 11%, which is a 2% increase as compared to the previous period. Slightly less often the media reports about Scientific and Research Institutes' projects; their quotation share has decreased over the year by 2%, having reached 9%, said the executive director, a member of the board of RVC, OJSC, Alexander Potapov.  Universities have been paying much more attention to both scientific communication in general and to the practical application of a variety of communication formats to work with target audiences. Scientific and Research Institutions are lagging far behind in this respect.

Positive trends in the industry development are also evident in the dynamics of the public involvement and interest in science. Sixty per cent of popular scientific Internet websites and publications have recorded an increase in the number of users.

According to the researchers, the leading universities as compared to scientific and research institutes have well 'equipped' communication divisions, and their work is much better structured. One way to correct the situation could be strategic positioning of scientific communicators' divisions within the structure of scientific and research institutions, which will intensify the prioritization of communication problems and will lead to a more equitable distribution of resources.

Besides, the development of unified working standards of specialists in scientific communications should have a positive impact on the development of the industry. In the absence of clear rules and criteria for evaluating their performance, the role of communicators often remains unclear to both the top management of scientific organizations and to the employees themselves. Introduction of professional standards will help to more clearly formulate the problems for professionals and monitor the degree of influence of scientific communications on the overall performance of organizations.

The ​​researchers consider the development of scientists' personal branding as a promising area. Currently, the share of publications which made reference to Russian scientists in the total volume of publications on research findings is quite low (the figure has showed a slight increase as compared to the previous same period of study — from 19% to 22% of all materials on scientific subjects, with an overall growth of publications on scientific achievements of more than 12%). For comparison, here is some data on the US media field: the proportion of publications with references to the discoveries made by American scientists reaches 65% of the total volume of publications about scientific discoveries in the US media. Personification of scientific news would create and secure in the public consciousness stable associations between different areas of science and the names of their prominent representatives, as well as to show the "human face" of the domestic science. 


The Communication Laboratory of RVC is an educational networking project designated to strengthen the links between science, society, business and education. The project goal is to performsynchronization of the vision and development of common standards for the exchange of information between the scientific research community, the media and the public, as well as the identification of a new class of professionals: communicators in science. In 2015, the Communication Laboratory was awarded a special prize for "The Best Project of promotion of scientific achievements and innovations" at the XVIII Silver Archer National Public Relations Development Award.

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