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PLACES Impact Assessment Toolkit launched

 PLACES Impact Assessment Toolkit launched

The social impact of collaboration in science communication

What is the social impact of collaborative efforts in science communication? This is a recurring question among researchers in the field of ¨Science in Society¨ (SiS), politicians and the communicators themselves. Due to the various limitations placed on this type of research, this question is a difficult one to answer. The PLACES Impact Assessment Toolkit endeavours to answer this question.

The committee of PLACES researchers coordinated by PLACES partner Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, developed the PLACES Impact Assessment Toolkit to measure science communication initiatives and policies. The toolkit delivers recommendations for future actions to promote the city of scientific culture in Europe and will be used in a series of case studies to assess the impact of scientific culture initiatives and policies in three contexts:

  • Science centres
  • Science events or festivals
  • Science cities

Download the PLACES Impact Assessment Toolkit in PDF format from the attachment below.

The PLACES Impact Assessment Toolkit has been tested for efficiency through five pilot studies across Europe.

Additionally, each contributor to PLACES Impact Assessment is working on a National Overview of Scientific Culture in their respective countries which outlines the position of science in their nation’s society. These reports will be enormously helpful to defining models for the city of scientific culture.

The necessity for evaluation

For decades throughout Europe, considerable efforts have been dedicated to science communication as well as to general ¨Science Communication Initiatives and Policies¨ (or SCIP). Whether these efforts have been excessive or sufficient is not up for discussion here, we simply wish to highlight the sum of human and economic resources dedicated to the communication of science and when one considers an entire nation- or the whole of Europe, this represents a large entity whose impact needs to be considered.

It is only logical that all SCIP should implement processes of evaluation and impact assessment if we are truly seeking to advance and improve this area without wasted efforts and undesirable effects.

Evaluation is not a question of current trends, although some view it as something forced on all fields, including science communication. Knowing the impact that a visit to a science museum has on its visitors, or the effects of a policy aimed to promote science is something that is necessary if one truly believes in the importance of said museum or policy.

The study of the results and impact of SCIP should help us gain knowledge about its value and also its weaknesses. It is also important to initiate research that allows us to investigate the effects of those SCIPs within a broader spectrum: With respect to a given population, a geographic area (a city or region), a group of actors, or a long time. This is precisely what is meant when we speak of the measurement or assessment of ¨impact¨.