Engaging with Online Audiences: A cross-country analysis of use of the Web for communicating biomedical science to public audiences.
Cody, Lindsay (2010) Engaging with Online Audiences: A cross-country analysis of use of the Web for communicating biomedical science to public audiences. Master of Arts thesis, Dublin City University.
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This research project is an examination of the websites of biomedical research institutes to
identify the extent to which the Web is used to communicate science to public audiences.
Through a review of the literature, it was found that biomedical research institutes can
communicate information effectively by targeting content at particular segments of their
audience; providing in-depth yet accessible information; endeavouring to take an open
approach to communication, in order to build trust, which does not attempt to shield the
public from uncertainty; and blending different approaches to, or models of, communication.
This research was accomplished through a content analysis of the websites of 68 biomedical
research centres in the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Canada and Continental
Europe. The websites were examined for their attribution and transparency; content and
currency; interactivity and navigation; design; and accessibility. Further data was obtained
through questionnaires from communication practitioners in the institutes in order to validate
content analysis results.
Research has shown that biomedical research institutes in the United States surpass the other
countries in their efforts to communicate with public audiences via the Web. Of the five highest
scoring websites, four were located in the United States. On a whole however, the public
communication of biomedical research does not appear to be the primary aim of online
communication and the deficit model is still widely used with very little opportunity provided
for user discussion or interaction.
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