What is scientific communication in citizen social science? This was one of the research questions that we were interested in since we began writing the proposal for the YouCount project in which Orkestra coordinated communication, dissemination, and exploitation activities. These activities are mandatory, and the European Executive Research Agency (REA) defines them as follows: communication is promoting activities and results from the beginning to the end of the project; dissemination refers to making research results public (and open) as soon as they are available; and exploitation is about ensuring that its main results have practical use beyond the life of the project. To refer to the three activities together we can use the term science communication.

Our approach was to do science communication dialogically. To that end, our starting point was participatory communication, which we identify, in this article, as one of the epistemic foundations of citizen social science. Integrating dialogue and its ethical dimension into the project's science communication activities was consistent with YouCount’s objective of promoting a more democratic and inclusive science. Furthermore, we understood that approaching science communication as a process and not just as a result, would make it a shared responsibility among the 10 research teams that were part of the consortium. Finally, a dialogic approach to the exploitation of results would contribute to making them actionable in other social contexts, thus guaranteeing their use beyond the life of the project.

We learned that scientific communication in citizen social science is everything, everywhere all at once, like the award winning film in which everything is interconnected. By the end of the project, we had mapped science communication in citizen social science as unfolding in three levels defined by their dialogical intensity. First, the micro level where dialogical communication takes place at its fullest (on the ground: within the research teams, between research teams and with stakeholders…). Second, the meso level where dialogical communication is supported by technology and adopts a hybrid format (website, social media, a data collection app…). And third, the macro level where science communication adopts a one-way approach (videos, speeches, press releases...). These levels are not a sequence, they happen simultaneously, in some or all parts and stages of the project at different points in time and in different languages.

This is closely linked to the notion of communication as the making of social worlds. This view interprets social reality as made through language and communication, rather than merely expressed by it. So, meanings, actions, personalities, relationships organisations and institutions are made in communication. Thus, science communication and citizen social science are inextricable; all participants, regardless of their formal role (researchers, communication professionals) are involved in science communication; and science communication is closely linked to the impact of the project.

The Handbook of Youth Citizen Social Science is what the YouCount team created through scientific communication, not only when writing and editing the handbook (although very much so) but by doing the research behind it. It is not a one-size fits all manual, because context is very important. Rather, it is the result of an inter- and transdisciplinary dialogue developed within YouCount that seeks to inspire new dialogues in other territories or communities leading to changes that contribute to making them more inclusive.


patricia canto

Patricia Canto

Patricia Canto is a researcher at Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness. She holds a PhD in Social Sciences (University of Deusto); an MPhil in Development Studies (IDS-University of Sussex); an MA in International Relations (University of Sussex) and a BA in International Relations from the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM).

See full profile