In 2013, a number of studies revealed a huge gap between the scientific community in Russia and Russian society. An annual survey by Russia’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) showed that up to 70% of Russians couldn’t answer basic questions related to science (e.g., Is an electron bigger than an atom?). A possible cause of this disconnect? According to the same study, only 7% of Russians read science news.
Later in 2013, a survey by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti focused for the first time on how science was represented in the Russian media. It showed that 85% of stories related to science featured foreign scientific news, and out of a mere 15% dedicated to Russian science, half were unreliable. The research also revealed an unbelievable figure: in a country of 140 million people, only about 270 journalists specialize in science reporting.
Lack of understanding of and interest in science can have a serious effect on a country’s ability to innovate. Russian science seemed to have found itself in an information vacuum. In addition, Western media practice shows that quality media coverage and external communications are essential for scientific organizations to successfully compete for grants, students, employees and investment.
The Russian Venture Company (RVC), a government fund of funds and a development institute responsible for fostering and promoting Russian innovations, partnered with SPN Communications to develop a way to increase the visibility of Russian science.
SPN conducted the first ever multi-aspect research of communication practices in Russian scientific and educational institutions to examine the interaction between three key audiences: scientists, journalists, and those whose job is to connect the first two. The research showed that there were just 0.4 communication practitioners per 1,000 employees in scientific organizations (under 400 nationwide),...
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