INSIGHT: Ethical best practice in science communication and engagement

The aim of this project is to identify how researchers and practitioners communicating and engaging about science and health-related topics consider the ethical dimensions of their communication, to ensure communication and engagement activities are both ethically sound and carried out in a way which considers the ethical needs of both those communicating, and their participants. The fundamental role of science communication and engagement in the UK, as well as globally, has been evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic, but concurrently it has heightened attention towards the ethical dimensions of communication, including questions of social justice, equity and the role of community perspectives in research on science and health.

By conducting two advisory workshops and two focus groups (one in Bristol, one in Oxford), we aimed to understand more about the role that ethics plays in communication and engagement with research. A series of interviews (17) have been conducted in UK academic institutions, and in museums, science centres, and other informal learning spaces, to contribute to the project gathering UK-based evidence on the ethical dimensions of science communication and public engagement with science and health topics. A draft version of our interview and focus group thematic analysis (PDF) is available and we are currently preparing to share the results of the project.

The project has been funded via a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (SRG22\220481), supported by the Leverhulme Trust and is live between January 2023 and July 2024.

The project is being led by Dr Clare Wilkinson, Co-Director of the Science Communication Unit in collaboration with Professor Mike Parker, Director of the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities (WEH)/Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, and Milly Farrell, Public Engagement Manager at the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities (WEH).

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