Optimising the dissemination of health research in Ireland
Scientific publications have grown exponentially in recent years, contributing to an ‘infodemic’ widely seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. Public communication of scientific research can occur through individual researchers directly connecting with the public via social media or outreach events, however, many researchers struggle navigating the evolving media landscape or finding time or interest. Singular ad hoc communication may also not be the most effective. Researchers working in areas with less direct-patient impact (e.g. pre-clinical or methodological work such as evidence synthesis) may experience particular difficulty in communicating to the public. Expert intermediaries such as organisational communication specialists at academic institutions or governmental statutory bodies can help in broadly disseminating research through multiple mediums simultaneously. Communication specialists or individual researchers may also be connected with individual journalists. These collaborative relationships are complex, affected by organisational and societal roles, changing working practices, and incompatible views on responsibilities. Previous work has demonstrated that researchers and communication specialists prefer close collaboration, however, research on the interactions between them is rare.
Therefore, we aim to explore the dissemination of health research in Ireland and facilitators and barriers to communication between researchers, communication specialists, and the media in order to maximise collaboration and communication. This proposal encompasses three projects:
- a cross-sectional analysis of current media coverage of health research from exemplar academic institutions or governmental statutory bodies in Ireland
- a realist review investigating the communication between researchers, communication specialists, and journalists, exploring what works for whom, in what circumstances, and how; and
- a realist evaluation to explore the current communication processes and establish guidance.
Mapping and exploring the mechanisms and contexts for the most effective dissemination will inform more efficient and impactful collaboration and communication between researchers, communication specialists, and journalists.
- Award Date
- 22 September 2023
- Award Value
- Principal Investigator
- Dr Melissa Sharp
- Host Institution
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
- HRB Postdoctoral Fellowships: ARPP 2023