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How Can Science Outreach Fit into Existing Scientific Infrastructure? A Research Study

By Jeanne Garbarino , Nicole Woitowich

RockEDU is teaming up with Northwestern University’s Niki Woitowich to examine how science academia views science outreach, both as a practice and profession. Funded by the National Science Foundation, we hope this research will allow us to identify specific barriers to participating in science outreach, and generate evidence-based recommendations for the centralization of science outreach programs in academic settings.

As science outreach continues to evolve into a professional component within the scientific enterprise, we need to evolve our understanding in terms of how science outreach initiatives are integrated within various science and research landscapes. We know this is a tall order, so we are starting with a focused approach. The goal of this proposed work is to examine how science outreach currently exists within academic research institutions at the national level.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To explore the perceived value of science outreach and perception of science outreach professionals amongst members of the scientific community;
  2. To identify the motivations or limitations which influence participation in science outreach within the scientific community;
  3. To examine the current culture and climate of science outreach as a distinct profession, with a focus on gender and/or racial/ethnic-bias amongst practitioners.

In designing this survey, we leaned on our personal and professional experiences in science outreach, outputs from #SciOut18, and a general crowdsourcing from science outreach practitioners (here is our crowdsourcing document). We also want our communities to learn as we learn, and will provide regular, timely updates on elements around the research process, as well as our findings and interpretations.

Through this effort, we hope to paint an interdisciplinary and multifaceted view of the field of science outreach as it currently exists within the research enterprise, and establish a data-driven framework to support effective and sustainable outreach efforts and broader impacts.

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