Science Communication 2.0: The Situation of Spain through Its Public Universities and the Most Widely-Circulated Online Newspapers

Science Communication 2.0: The Situation of Spain through Its Public Universities and the Most Widely-Circulated Online Newspapers

Dra. María Dolores Olvera-Lobo (CSIC, Unidad Asociada Grupo SCImago, Madrid. Departamento de Información y Comunicación, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain) and Lourdes López-Pérez (Departamento de Información y Comunicación, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/irmj.2014070104
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Abstract

The level of scientific culture among young Spaniards is one of the lowest in Europe. The media, as spokespersons to the public, and public universities, as the institutions responsible for higher education, are two important parties with the responsibility for changing this situation. This study analyses how both use the Internet and Web 2.0 to promote science. In the case of universities, the results demonstrate the effort they are making to connect science to these tools. 72.9% have a scientific news feed and almost a third have a profile on Facebook and Twitter. However, the role of Spanish science is still irrelevant in online newspapers. Only 35.4% of published information refers to research in Spain.
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Introduction

The level of scientific culture among young Spaniards is one of the lowest in Europe (Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa, 2013) and registration on scientific courses has fallen in the last decade (Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, 2010). The future of Spanish R+D+i depends on new generations and demands educated, trained people. The increasing complexity of society and the unstoppable advance of science and technology demand essential scientific literacy from an early age (Nisbet, et al., 2012).

The priorities of European financing programmes for the coming decade (European Commission, 2014) or the strategies for the integration of science and technology in the strengthening of the knowledge community (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2014) indicate public involvement in R+D+i as one of their primary objectives.

The future shows a research system that will assume the responsibility for the public communication of scientific results as one of its integral parts. Spanish science should focus efforts on this approach if it does not want to be left behind in terms of research and lose its position in the international ranking, where it appears as the ninth country in terms of scientific production (Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología, 2011).

At the same time, the growth of the Internet as one of the media with the greatest social impact, already close to television (Asociación para la Investigación de Medios, 2013), indicates this channel as the main tool for providing information about science. And it becomes even more important if the target audience are young people, so-called digital natives (Prensky, 2001) due to their dependence on new communication channels (Brigué Sala & Sádaba Chalezquer, 2010).

This study analyses how Spain is dealing with the new priorities established by the European Union as far as scientific communication is concerned. To do this, we analysed the role played by some of the principal agents responsible for this task, namely the media and public universities, because of their dual condition as research centres and higher education institutions for young people.

We prepared two ad-hoc checklists aimed at obtaining specific information from each of the agents. In the case of universities we analysed the use of Web 2.0 tools for the scientific dissemination of research results and the effectiveness of communication using them. In the case of online newspapers the analysed items were mainly focused on discovering the nature of the sources of information used, and the scope of the origin (national or international) of the information published related to scientific news about research carried out in Spain. The analysis period comprised one month, from 1st December to 31st December 2012.

Below we present an overview of state of the art, the methodology used, the results obtained and the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

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