Public communication from research institutes: is it science communication or public relations?


There is growing competition among publicly funded scientific institutes and universities to attract staff, students, funding and research partners. As a result, there has been increased emphasis on science communication activities in research institutes over the past decade. But are institutes communicating science simply for the sake of improving the institute’s image? In this set of commentaries we explore the relationship between science communication and public relations (PR) activities, in an attempt to clarify what research institutes are actually doing. The overall opinion of the authors is that science communication activities are almost always a form of PR. The press release is still the most popular science communication and PR tool. There is however disagreement over the usefulness of the press release and whether or not gaining public attention is actually good for science.


22 September 2014



Scientific institutions have for a long time known the importance of framing and owning stories about science They also know the effective way of communicating science in a press release This is pa


In this commentary I explain why research institutions are neither doing science communication nor developing ‘public’ relations in the proper sense.


We argue that the institutionalized push communication of academic institutions has become the dominant form of public science communication and has tended to force other forms and functions of sci


Public communication from research institutions often functions as both science communication and public relations.