The Impact Unit
Information about the project and the team
Science communication is becoming increasingly more important, playing a central role in many of the challenges societies are currently facing. In light of this increased importance, it is essential that science communication is conducted in an impactful way and so that it reaches its intended target groups. Evaluations play a key role in this regard, because they shed light on the potential impacts of science communication projects, help identify their strengths and weaknesses, and enable learning for future projects.
In order to enhance meaningful evaluation and impact-oriented science communication, the Impact Unit was established by Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD) with fundings by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany. WiD is the German organisation for science communication of the scientific community and supports science and research with expertise in effective communication with society and encourages researchers to communicate their research, including its controversial aspects, with the public. Moreover, WiD raises citizens’ awareness for the social significance of science and promotes understanding research processes and findings. For that reason, WiD organizes various participatory formats, e.g. discussions, school projects, exhibitions, and competitions across Germany and provides online portals about science and science communication.
With the Impact Unit we work at the interface between theory and practice of science communication. We want to use this unique position to contribute to a meaningful evaluation practice and impact orientation in German science communication together with practitioners, scientists and political stakeholders. Within this framework we address questions concerning the desired impact of science communication, its target groups and the formats and channels which can be used to communicate scientific content effectively. To do so, our project is active in the following areas:
- Analyses and insights about science communication
Even though more and more research about science communication is being conducted, there is still a need for more scientific insights in science communication practice. Open questions concern the ways to achieve specific target groups and the potential certain science communication activities bear. With the Impact Unit we want to contribute to filling these knowledge gaps and perform a synthesis of scientific insights in order to make them accessible for science communication practice. To do so we collaborate with scientific partners and address open question at the interface of science communication research and practice.
- Tools for practice
We develop extensive tools and information that practitioners can use to conduct meaningful evaluations of their science communication activities. These tools will be complemented in the future by an online evaluation platform that practitioners can use to evaluate their activities by means of quantitative surveys.
- Events and Networking
Through our events we draw attention to the meaning of impact and evaluation for science communication. In workshops we present and test our evaluation tools for the community of practitioners. Moreover, the needs of our stakeholders are central to our project. The exchange with and establishment of close relations between actors from science communication research and practice and actors from science management and policy are key to our project.
The Impact Unit is supported by an advisory board of national and international experts from science management, science communication research and practice. The board advises the Impact Unit in all questions regarding strategy, important project milestones and future directions of the project.
The Impact Unit is a project situated and active in Germany. Within this context, our aim is to contribute to a more impact-oriented practice and more meaningful evaluations in science communication in Germany. That is why much of the material we produce is provided only in German. Nevertheless we believe that international cooperation is vital to improving science communication both in practice and in research. The international science communication community is thriving and we aim to contribute as many of our insights as possible to ongoing international debates as well as take account of international research insights in our own work. To do so, we take part in international conferences to present our insights as well as our evaluation tools and offer workshops for researchers and practitioners to foster cooperation. We also aim to provide translations of the key analyses we have done in order to give international researchers and practitioners alike the opportunity to access our results.
On this page you will find links to all the English language material that we have produced in our project. The list is constantly updated.
Decision Tree: Evaluation in Science Communication
Our decision tree for evaluation in science communication confronts science communicators with the central questions they need to ask themselves in order to plan a stringent, logically structured and insightful evaluation
Science communication in Germany
Results of a survey among scientists
Goals of science communication in Germany
An analysis of the strategic goals of science communication set by key actors of institutional science communication in Germany
Evaluation practices in Germany
An exploration of published evaluation reports in the German speaking countries
Evaluation and Impact in Science Communication
Results of a Community Survey in November and Dezember 2019