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REsearch LAbs for TEaching Journalists

Final Report Summary - RELATE (REsearch LAbs for TEaching Journalists)

The RELATE project has been successfully implemented in two years' time, from January 2009 until January 2011. The main objective of was to create new opportunities for closer cooperation between scientists and journalists among European countries with a view to generate a stable dialog, in line with the objectives defined by the European Commission (EC) under the third Action Line 'Science and society communicate' to provide support for training activities for journalists and high level scientists. In order to reach this objective, the pilot initiative set up a series of training visits for young journalists into research laboratories receiving funding under the framework programme of the EC. The project activities started with a preparatory phase of seven months that set the basis for smooth implementation of the sessions. In this first phase, an advisory board group was nominated with members from all over Europe with experts from the science communication community and journalists or communication experts. The partners met and had several conference calls to plan the activities. By the end of June 2009, the website was published online and a consistent group of journalism schools were informed about the project. The three sessions took place in November 2009, March 2010 and November 2010.

The first application campaign was launched in early June and by the first week of August 2009, already 100 candidates applied to the programme. This shows the international interest of the project. 17 students were selected (12 female and 5 male journalists) for the first round from 11 different European countries, and they were sent to 3 different research centres: Bilkent University at the Nanotechnology Research Centre, Ankara, Turkey, ENEA Casaccia Centre Rome, Italy, Laboratory of lymphatic and cancer bioengineering and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The second application campaign launched in October - November 2009 collected a number of 90 students out of which 33 students were selected (24 female and 9 male journalists). The second round of trainings was carried out in 4 weeks during March and several other laboratories added to the list of hosting structures. The third round 150 candidates sent out their application and 29 journalism students participated (21 female and 8 male journalists), from 11 different countries, involving 6 new research centres, plus the 3 partners' research centres with a total of 15 labs. The selected participants were 22 female and 6 male journalists. The three training sessions were successfully completed: both journalist and researchers were satisfied. Articles and video/radio pieces were prepared and some of them have already been published in mass media, including some well-known and giving visibility to European Union (EU) research. Among the publication of the students the most known are The Economist, Cosmos, Robotics, Le Scienze and major website in Romania and Lithuania. The researchers involved in the trainings were available to supervise the scientific content of the works produced by students to guarantee the real scientific added value of their articles.

Project context and objectives

The project aimed at contributing to the creation of new opportunities for closer cooperation between scientists and journalists in European countries, with a view to generate a stable dialog. The actions proposed by the project envisage to setting up high quality cycles of trainings in different laboratories around Europe in reaction of the objectives defined by the EC under the third Action Line 'Science and society communicate' to provide support for training activities for journalists. The project aimed at fostering the mutual understanding between researchers and operators in the media. The expected impact was to amplify the 'stories to tell' potential of research activities. This was achieved by sending final year journalism students to different laboratories involved in EU-funded research and push them to imagine, create and run specific communication projects, such as writing an in-depth article for the general press, or define an audiovisual production project, likely to be turned into a broadcasting production and radio podcasts.

Project targets

The project's main beneficiaries were journalism students in their final year and researchers involved in the programmes and transferring the messages to journalists for wider communication. The students were not directly specialising in science-journalism, as the overall purpose of this project and of the Science in Society programme was to bridge science to society. Therefore this approach involved those individuals that will be operating in communication towards the large public and towards different segments of non-scientific public. The approach proved to be a successful one, because activities could be more easily structured for students since experiences can be translated into academic credits for their educational career. Activities could be structured in view of further similar projects through the journalism schools or international journalist organisations. Younger journalists have a higher potential than older journalist, as orienting them or making them interested in scientific themes can represent a potentially higher impact for scientific and research activities in the media in the years to come. Older journalists tend to be busy, more difficult to manage within a structured framework and are more exposed to priorities shifts.

Pilot initiative and rationale

While the core activity remains the experience of final year journalism students being sent for one week to high profile European laboratories, the project evolves coherently with the idea of an ambitious pilot project which planned three different kinds of approaches on the involvement of research laboratories. As emerged in the assessment of the results, the approach of a pilot action proved to have high repeatability potential. It is worth explaining how the whole process was deployed. The rationale of the project was that 80 journalism students were sent for one week to a research laboratory involved in European research and 80 media products would be produced and be ready for publication.

To meet these goals, the students had to acquire as much information as possible during their stay in the laboratories and try to create a mutual understanding dynamic between themselves and the research teams. The articles produced had to be addressed to the general public and had to provide correct information, avoiding risks of misleading the information or false perceptions of the research activities performed by the scientists. The pilot element in the project stands in the way research institutions are involved in the project. From this perspective, the project tried three different methods, hence acquiring a good understanding of how labs perceive this type of cooperation with (future) journalists. In this respect, the project relies on already acquired collaboration of two important scientific organisations (ENEA and EPFL), which can be considered as core labs in the project. Programme activities, which acted as a gateway to send the students to Turkish laboratories. The Turkish labs involved were not directly involved as partners, as the main partner remained TUBITAK, but specific agreements were established with them. The third way was to involve new additional labs, without any previous agreement and information circulated to measure the interest and availability in hosting journalists for a period of a week without any additional costs for the research institutes hosting. This was achieved through a communication campaign launched and ran through the course of the project by the project coordinator and the support of some other partners, like European Journalist Centre (EJC). This attempt to involve new labs proved successful and the project managed to get 14 new labs involved belonging to 10 different research centres. This was an experimental approach with scientific institutions and the results of this activity proved to be so promising that there is not only the interest but also the need to pursue with future similar initiatives.

Core Labs: ENEA and EPFL

ENEA and EPFL, as partners in the project, made their research laboratories and personnel available to host students and guide them through their activities on the spot. Expected results were to reach 15 research labs belonging to either organisation. Results shows 18 labs engaged: 6 labs involved in EPFL and 12 labs involved in ENEA

Network labs: TUBITAK

TUBITAK contacted other Turkish research organisations and Minerva concluded partnership agreements with them to send the journalists to their facilities. It was expected to ensure the cooperation of five Turkish research labs. At the end six labs were involved in Turkey.

External labs: Identified during the project

Specific communication activities and communication campaigns were launched to engage new labs to cooperate in hosting students. Minerva was mainly in charge of this activity. The expected number was not predictable but the results reached are more than expected. The project got the participation of 14 new labs from 12 different research centres.

In addition, as a pilot project, RELATE intended to prepare recommendations for potential users and continuers of this activity. It sets up the first series of study visits collecting feedbacks and suggestions for future actions, in a way of facilitating the repeatability of the experiences and giving examples of training modules for such activities. The organisation of the final workshop had the scope of showing the results achieved and informing on the modules executed both researchers and journalists.

Project objectives

The project sets itself the general objective of the Science in Society programme addressing the knowledge of citizens and civil society organisations on research and science.

The following considerations were the basis of the project:

- The need of the citizens to rely on science to improve the quality of life and find answers to daily issues. The project wanted to contribute to highlight the relations between science, research and the daily life of European citizens.
- The need for other ambitious and innovative methods for more effective communication of science and research by establishing a continuous flow of information between the two main responsible actors: scientist and journalist.
- To combine results from previous experiences and projects and build training experiences, enhancing the exchange of information. Not only to disseminate the news but also collect and boost the production of new ideas to further disseminate and communicate about research and science.
- To catalyse the debate over research and science to be continued online through a web portal and attract new actors to participate in the dialog.
- To lead an initiative that could set up a different approach in the setting up of relationships between the two actors and generate strong partnerships to be self-sustainable and self-expandable in the future.
- To provide a response to the opinion of Europeans that according to recent polls would prefer scientists rather than journalists to present scientific information in the media as they consider this would be more trustworthy and precise. There is also a significant component of Europeans that say that scientific news is difficult to understand and the support from the journalists is important to translate the concepts.
- To respond to those scientists who are conscious about the barriers to the reporting of science on both sides of media and the scientific community and to recognise the need for scientist to be more open towards journalists and media in general.
- To increase the number of researchers having direct contacts with the media, giving a concrete support to those who are willing to communicate but, as often happens, due to low resources of the institution where these researchers work for their desire cannot be fulfilled.

The EC wants to strengthen the culture of science communication in Europe in order to avoid misperceptions that could lead to public opposition to scientific advances and losing innovation opportunities.

The specific objectives of the project that had to be achieved through initiatives of coordination, communication, dissemination, training and awareness-raising in different countries in Europe were:

- to enhance and enforce a dialog between researchers and journalists that, starting from a meeting and some days spent together, could lead to a professional relationship;
- to set up journalists visits in laboratories on the basis of considerations, recommendations and best practices gathered from previous and ongoing projects to create synergies and join forces to disseminate practices and develop new innovative instruments;
- to set up partnerships with EU laboratories dealing with daily European issues that could be of interest for the general public. Starting from the partners' laboratories (ENEA, EPFL), the idea was to involve new labs through different approaches. All labs had been previously or are currently engaged in research projects funded by the EC;
- to create a platform where interesting information and useful material on the activities carried on in the laboratories involved can be found, with the aim of involving new participants in the future and thus creating new partnerships between journalists and researchers;
- to allow journalists to collect useful news and information to be the basis for the editing of news, articles, radio or TV programmes to be produced by the journalists attending the trainings in the forthcoming months;
- to invite new actors to take part in the initiative or similar future initiatives, through the use of the website where scientists could get in contact and dialog with journalists;
- to publish a booklet with stories told by journalists about their experiences in the labs to attract other colleagues in having interests in research issues and in learning on place before writing articles and from the other side to induce researchers in being more confident on the capability of journalists to translate and describe their work;
- to give guidelines for future researchers and future journalists on the basis of the experience from the trainings, providing suggestions and inputs on how to hold each other in high esteem for the benefit of the other citizens and civil society organisations;
- to inform the other media on the activity executed and on the importance of such exchanges of collaboration between the two professionals. A final workshop with a debate was the occasion to present the outcomes of the project and gather experts in science-communication to assess the final results of the project;
- to plan the extension of the exchange of the activities with the support of other schools or public associations of journalists that will be informed on the project and will be invited to sign partnerships in order to further progress in the dialog between researchers and media and gain mutual benefit.

The project intended to make the two parties more reliable between each other ensuring sufficient linkages between the media and scientific communities. The two categories of actors were well represented by the partners of the consortium and were enlarged in the implementation phase of the project through meetings and dissemination of the messages and concepts of the project. The project involved different actors but the final beneficiaries of the project were citizens, not directly involved in the phases, but reading the articles or watching the audio/video pieces produced by the journalists and discovering more about European funded research and having full access to the website.

Project results

RELATE was organised around six work packages (WPs) to achieve all expected objectives.

WP1: Project management

Under the coordination of the project coordinator who was in charge of the full project management and supervised all the activities, this WP included the management, preparation of project meetings, reviews, activity reports and maintenance of relations with the Project Officer at the EC. The relatively small number of participants allowed intense coordination meetings between participants and regular conference calls. The coordination of the intense exchange of information between participants, especially in the case of the students' training and visits to laboratories was essential for the execution of all activities. A good management was central to guarantee the preparation and execution of the activities. This WP planned the creation of an advisory board to monitor the good implementation of the activities executed and give inputs for the assessment of the final results. The project started with the creation of an essential body, the advisory board, formed of experienced journalists and people who are familiar with European research, whose function was to support the selection of students to be sent to the laboratories and to check upon the consistency of project deployment in coherence with the work plan. The advisory board had a key role in evaluating the students' work upon completion of their visits in the labs.

WP2: Selection of participating students

This WP dealt with the selection of students and was coordinated by EJC, which has direct contacts and a cooperation framework with most European journalism schools. The selection process consisted of identifying 80 students to be sent to laboratories, each for one week. The selection was done by the AB on the basis of students' CVs and of their expression of interest towards the project, in which they were asked to motivate their interest in the research issues. The area of researches proposed was broad and the students had the possibility of choosing many fields, such as biotechnology, climate, environment, food, global health, health, ICT, metrology, micro-engineering, nanotechnology, robotics, space, chemistry, mathematics, physics, engineering, material science and life sciences. In selecting the students, a criterion of geographical representation was followed, in view to ensure a wide coverage of different countries, with special attention to the new member States. A balance between male and female participation was sought.

WP3: Research labs recruitment

WP3 deals with another fundamental component of the project, that of the research centres involved, and here stands most of the concept of the pilot initiative. While two of these, among the most reputed research organisations of Europe, were already involved as partners, ENEA (Italy) and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, EPFL (Switzerland), another one, TUBITAK (Turkey), the national research agency of Turkey, acted as a gateway towards the most important research organisations of its country. In addition, there was the objective of trying to ensure the participation of further research centres to complement those already involved and to try to extend participation to a growing number of research organisations in Europe and in particular new Member States.

Thus the project relied on ENEA and EPFL, partners to the project and directly committed to host the students in one or more of their laboratories and research facilities, the research laboratories of Turkey, with which TUBITAK defined, during the project, cooperation agreements and newly involved research laboratories, during the implementation phase of the project, in order to test this possibility of involving interested laboratories in the process. The results of this campaign gave the opportunity of enlarging the participation in the future and maintaining the interest from both parties and of demonstrating the sustainability of the programme for meeting the objectives of the SIS programme. Research laboratory were asked to promote their participation in their own publications and on their websites in order to awaken other research laboratories interested and give more visibility to the project.

WP4: Visits to laboratories

This WP represents the core activity of the project, which is the visits of students to research labs. The project opted for a hands-on approach, trying to make the experience of students as close as possible to real life situations. From this perspective, students were asked to produce an in-depth article of three to four pages of a standard weekly magazine format, with interviews and pictures. The use of a standardised approach to the content generated by students allowed a thorough comparison and fair evaluation of the work done by the students and the collection of homogeneous material, roughly 80 media products among articles, radio podcasts and videos. Some training tools were available on the website for consultation:

The visits were deployed according to the following procedure. Before departure students received adequate information about the research centre and the laboratory. Each of them was assigned to a specific research theme to cover. In doing so, the advisory board took into account, where possible, the expressions of interest of students towards a given research area. Students were briefed on the phone and by e-mail about the purpose of the project and the expected results of their mission. In some cases, the first contacts between the research lab and the students took place before departure by e-mail. Depending on the lab, some of the students were asked to produce a planning explaining whom they wish to interview, which specific research they want to cover, etc. This allowed the hosting organisation to arrange meetings and interviews or photo sessions in advance.

Students started their week with a brief introduction given by the coordinator or the representative of EJC or one of the other partners. Then, a general visit to the entire research institute followed to provide them with a general overview of the research facilities of the organisation. After that, they were distributed in the different labs and started working with the researcher. From day 2 to day 5 the students had the opportunity to carry out their work with the researchers, or they were able to use a newsroom (a room with PCs and Internet connections) so that they can search for further information or start writing their articles. Day 5 concluded the visit with a final group meeting in which students and personnel of the research organisation exchanged views on their experiences. Students were asked to fill in a daily online blog related to their experience in the lab, allowing providing the project management with indications about aspects which deserve adjustments or corrective measures. Another form was submitted to researchers, measuring for example, the degree of interest shown in the proposed programme and the willingness of repeatability of such kind of actions. Within 15 days from their visits to the lab, the students had to deliver their media products according to the format agreed upon. Students were encouraged to have their articles published in newspapers, magazines or web-media. Journalists wrote their articles in their own mother tongue, accompanied by an English summary that was published online.

WP5: Communication and dissemination

It deals with the organisation of all communication and dissemination activities to promote the activities and results of the project, as well as the organisation of the final workshop.

The communication and dissemination activities consisted in the following.

1. Setting up of a project website showcasing achievements of the programme, accompanying information, reports, articles, and audiovisual materials produced in preparation of lab visits or during visits. The website collected all material prepared by the project partners in support of the activities and the final products prepared by the students. Interactive and social network tools were set up to attract interest. Relevant links to similar initiatives and synergies established with other initiatives were also promoted. The website was the dissemination tool to promote the project itself towards new stakeholders and potential users. The website paid special attention to promote the results of the project and the information on its activities and give contacts details of the people involved in the project to create synergies with other initiatives and exchange feedback with stakeholders and potential users.
2. Preparation of all communication and dissemination material and corporate identity of the project for the project beneficiaries, the general public and other stakeholders.
3. Setting up of a communication campaign to attract participants to take part in the activities proposed, researchers and journalism students from one side and at a general level other journalists and media, associations, networks and national-European-international organisations to promote the project. Dedicated press releases were launched on a regular basis in different languages and sent at international level.

A booklet with all diaries written by the journalists on their experiences provided a popular, reader-friendly access to the topics and experiences of this project. The main targets of this booklet are other students in journalisms and it was printed for the final workshop and published on the website for a public access. The final workshop was mainly aimed at presenting the EC with the results of the project. Therefore, not only an illustrative session, providing an insight on the work of students and showing the articles produced as an outcome of the visit experience, but also an open discussion, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of the approach chosen and giving concrete indications about the organisation of further actions based on a 'hands-on' approach to communicating research. A small group of students were invited to join the workshop and present their work and experiences to invited participants. This part was extremely interesting for both the project partners, the research laboratories hosting the group and the EC funding the programme. Two students were awarded and received a symbolic price for 'the best RELATE student'.

WP6 Project assessment

This WP was dedicated to the project assessment. Given the pilot nature of the project, collecting feedback from all parties involved in the project was a key factor to further improve the project format in view of further actions. The project paid special attention to the mechanisms by which the impact of its actions were to be assessed, since, aside from the evaluation of projects' results, the partners wanted to focus on indications about ways of organising further actions aiming at fostering cooperation and understanding between journalists and researchers. The members of the Advisory Board were in charge of assessing the results. From this point of view, specific indicators were taken into account for instance for activities related to the involvement in project activities, of laboratories other than those already involved in the project as partners.

Thus, assessment was directed to two different but equal components of the project:

a) assessment of the experience of students in labs, specially by evaluating the quality of their work and their actual diffusion among the media;
b) assessment of the labs recruitment campaign, highlighting not only the quantitative results, but also the strengths and weaknesses of the projects appeal on labs, emerged during the campaign.

The following indicators were used to verify the success:

- the publication of the website and the quality and quantity of updated information inserted;
- an analysis of the satisfaction survey that was distributed to the journalists taking part in the trainings and to the researchers hosting the trainings;
- the publication of the booklet with the experiences;
- the publication of the guidelines for the researchers and the journalists;
- the number of articles and news with information on the laboratories published by the journalists involved;
- the number of partnerships established and the quality of the laboratories involved;
- the number of exchange of information between the two categories after the training for a period measured on a three monthly basis;
- an analysis of the impact of the information published;
- the dialog originated and the results achieved at the final workshop organised to sum up the activities.

The quality of achieved results was assessed measuring the quality of overall organisation, the quality of students staying in the labs, the impact on research teams' work, the quality of students' work after their visits to the labs and the impact on the press. The proper assessment activity was carried out in the second part of the project, after month 18. However, the project partners already worked on an internal assessment of the general activities and in particular after the end of each training session. This assessment was mainly to measure from one side the feedbacks of researchers and journalism students, from the other the general project concept and idea as a pilot project and understand its sustainability after the end of 24 months. At each research location the partners collected feedbacks from the involved researchers via a survey questionnaire, prepared in the initial phase of the project. The first feedbacks gathered were then shared among the partners and these were used for improving the other sessions. Other feedback was informally collected from the students which were in charge of writing a daily blog on the website. All activities and objectives were fully and successfully achieved according to the plan proposed. The final assessment analysis was presented during the final conference in Brussels and brought all participants together to discuss the general outcomes of the project in order to learn and disseminate these to outside experts and multipliers. The first analysis presented was enriched with the comments and suggestions coming from the experiences of the attending participants received during the concluding workshop and then improved and finally reedited in the final assessment report.

RELATE project visits in detail

Three sessions organised with the following labs involved:

First session: November 2009
- 2-6 November, Bilkent University, Nanotechnology Research Center Nanoteknoloji Aratrma Merkezi - Ankara, Turkey
- 9-13 November, ENEA Casaccia - Rome, Italy
- 16-20 November, Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) - Lausanne, Switzerland.

Second session: March 2010
- 1-5 March, ENEA - Rome, Italy
- 1-5 March, ICFO - Barcelona, Spain
- 8-12 March, Von Karman Institute - Rhode St. Genese (Brussels), Belgium
- 15-19 March, INRA - Jouy-en-Josas, Paris, France
- 15-19 March, Bilkent - Ankara, Turkey
- 15-19 March, LENS-Sesto Fiorentino (Florence), Italy
- 22-26 March, MAM - Izmir, Turkey
- 22-26 March, EPFL - Lausanne, Switzerland.

Third Session: November 2010
- 1-5 November, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, Chemistry and Genetics Laboratories
- 8-12 November, EPFL-Lausanne, Switzerland, Laboratory of Material Science
- 8-12 November, European Southern Observatory, Munich, Germany, EPOD- Education and Public Outreach Department
- 15-19 November, Institute of Photonic Sciences, Barcelona, Spain
- 15-19 November, ENEA - Rome, Italy, Brachyterapy laboratory, CLIM -MOD laboratory, Cristalline Silicon PV laboratory and Laser Spectroscopy of Functional Materials laboratory
- 15-19 November, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany, Haus der Astronomie
- 15-19 November, Estacion Biologica de Donana, Sevilla, Spain
- 22-26 November, Universita di Bologna, Italy, DEIS- Department of Electronics, Computer Sciences and Systems, DISTA- Department of Agro-environmental Science and Technologies, BES- Department of Experimental and Evolutionist Biology - Laboratory of Marine Science
- 22-26 November, CEMAGREF, Paris, France, Research Unit GPAN - 2 students.

Main results

Ten new research centres were involved. A total of 30 laboratories hosted 78 students coming from 21 European countries. Concerning the laboratories, the recruitment has been run across 3 rounds, RELATE expanded from 3 to 12 institutes, a 4-fold increase in 18 months. It shows the ability to attract other laboratories, and confirms RELATE as a potentially self-sustainable initiative. In addition, the quality of new institutes is high. For instance, the European Southern Observatory (Germany), is considered as the world's most productive astronomical observatory; foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe. INRA (France) is a number one agricultural institute in Europe and number two in the world. As far as the participants are concerned, 78 young journalists took part, coming from 23 European countries and writing in 17 languages. 45 journalists came from Western Europe and 33 from East / Southwest Europe. Over the 50 % of the participants was female. All the journalists were placed at labs in foreign countries. In relation with the quality of the outputs, over 25 % of participants published their work in specialist or mainstream media, such as The Economist, Cosmos or major news websites in Romania and Lithuania. Some of the journalists published conference reviews on websites of national associations of science writers and others used the 'New Science Journalism' project, a global online community which helps young science reporters to launch their careers. Most of the participants wrote articles, mainly for publishing online, and about 10 % produced video and audio reports, which demonstrates the adaptability and technical skill of project participants. Something to stress about the training assessment is that the majority of participants gave positive appraisals of the study tours and of the benefits of the networking between researchers and other communication professionals from across Europe, so as the logistics and guidance given during the training sessions. Nevertheless, the weak points are related to the need for greater journalistic support on-site and the need of a more balanced approach.

The participants found adequate the current project performance and they understood the need to be entrepreneurial in the field of journalism training. However, there were some different wishes like more training material and training sessions, additional information on journalism ethics, research and pitching guides, and more balance between scientific and journalism aspects concerning the work of lab media professionals. This means that the majority of the participants feel a lack in the current training programmes offered at European level in journalism and more specifically in science journalism and science education. Future recommendations are focused on allocating sufficient human and financial resources to enable professional journalists-trainers to guide participants through the study tours and on integrating organisations to work alongside the EJC. As far as the future of science journalism is concerned, there is a need to ensure that similar activities are regularly taken over in the universities' programmes and master classes to assure adequate preparation of students. The echos of RELATE arrived to the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) who decided to write an article about the project and the final conference results, interviewing the coordinator and some of the young journalists who participated in the course. An article is published on the WFSJ website and is one of the largest impacts the project could hope for (see for details). All deliverables and milestones were completed.

Potential impact

By inviting the next generation of professional journalists to visit research institutions for a week and personally experience European research, the project targeted potential multipliers at a time when they are not yet as confined by the pressures of earning a living, of competing with other editorial departments for print space or air time, and of being overwhelmed by the need to keep up with breaking news. This project invited participants to access science by providing them with concrete, touchable, and close-up contact and thus directly contribute to the typical story format that journalists prefer. They could learn about and report on the process of research, on the people behind it and the atmosphere under which it is conducted. Additionally, they were put in a position to form relationships with scientists and to earn their trust for future projects. A major objective of the programme was to forge cross-over news values out of research topics and to move a rising amount of science reporting over into other editorial departments. Young journalists were launched in the start of their careers and had a chance to discover a unique approach that will open their perspectives and new positions.

The partners considered this programme a pilot project designed to test innovative ways of building relationships between scientific researchers and journalists, to set up a good practice of cooperation between journalism schools and research institutes, and to support science reporting. It was a chance to disseminate the experience gathered with this project to both journalism students and Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)-sponsored scientific organisations in order to inspire them to engage in similar programmes through direct cooperation. Scientists directly benefited from this project because they gained practical experience with journalistic work methods and developed a better proficiency to constructively and successfully deal with media representatives. Finally, a series of journalistic products were published by participants after the visits. This should raise public awareness about the current European research landscape and become an example of best practice for new ways of covering research topics and help convince responsible editors as well as research labs of adopting the same or a similar approach in featuring or communicating science.

To sum up, the following are the core impacts from the project:

- young journalists experiencing FP7 research projects in a personal and tangible fashion, thus lowering the threshold between science and journalism;
- journalistic stories picking up on attractive news values and making science less abstract and more palpable to their audience;
- long-term relationships between journalists and individual scientists and their research institutions;
- an expanded scope of journalists and editorial departments reporting on matters of science and research;
- a contribution to the recent developments and innovation in research in newsrooms with multi-functional or multi-media reporting;
- practical learning about successful communication for the scientists involved;
- the development of sustainable projects with similar methodology and objectives;
- the publication of articles and other journalistic products resulting from the programme, enhancing the visibility of FP7 research and innovative approaches to science journalism;
- to foster journalism training courses focused on how to communicate science.

Thanks to the RELATE experience, for example, the Bilkent University will work in setting up a training course in the forthcoming years.

The impact these actions can have on the long term is that researchers increasingly feel the need for having similar experiences and like the experience of having a journalist at their premises. The value of the project has been demonstrated by the number of manifestations of interest the partners have received from other laboratories interested in joining the project as hosting labs.

Dissemination activities

Minerva prepared the logo, the website, the poster, the leaflet and the e-mail template to be sent out for promotion to both research organisations and journalism schools. Prior to this a detailed project communication and dissemination plan set the rules and procedures to be followed for an effective communication campaign. All communication tools that are necessary for efficiently and effectively carrying on the communication and dissemination campaign were designed and implemented. The partners agreed on them and received a copy of everything to be used for the promotion to their contacts. During conferences, information days and events organised at European level in Brussels, project information was distributed in the form of leaflets and press releases. During the implementation of the trainings, the partners promoted the participation in the programme to other researchers of the lab and external journalists. Information was sent out for promotion to both research organisations and journalism schools. All partners were involved in the promotional activities of the project. EJC sent information to all the channels and gained a lot of consensus among schools and universities. ENEA targeted its communication towards their researchers in Casaccia and reached a wide consensus among most of the researchers. TUBITAK focused on the local laboratories and research centres and distributed the posters to local schools. EPFL disseminated the information at local level and to the press office of the Institute in order to inform about the project planning and programme to its research laboratories to plan their participation and to raise awareness around the Institute to go on with similar activities in the future.

The following is part of the list of networks contacted by Minerva:

- Eurocultura
- Youthpressitalia
- Youthpress
- Jugendpresse
- Forum for European Journalism Students
- Youngjournalists
- Association of British Science Writers (ABSW)
- Videnskabsjournalister - the Danish Science Journalists Association
- Verening van Wetenschapsjournalisten in Nederland- the association of Dutch Science Journalists
- l'Association des Journalistes Scientifiques de la presse d'information (AJSPI)
- Tiedetoimittajat - the Finnish Association of Science Editors and Journalists
- Il Sole 24 Ore. (Italy).
- Agencia EFE. (Spain)
- Mondial Nieuws. (Belgium)
- NWT online (the Netherlands)

Minerva prepared timely press releases announcing the activities: the launch of the project, announcements of the programmes, labs involved and application campaigns. All press releases were promoted on the main European website and networks in order to reach a wider audience. The announcement of the opening of the application campaign was published in the newsletter of some students' networks and was published on websites of other journalists' associations. EJC prepared press releases for each of the study tours and supported the dissemination in coordination with Minerva. The press releases were posted on the EJC website and disseminated to EJC's network. All press releases and articles published on the project have been included in the 'press' area of the website.

These are some of the spotted articles that appeared about the project before, during and after the third session, on the main online websites:

- Die Wissenchaftsjournalisten;
- Servicio de Informacion y Noticias Cientificas (SINC): 1 December 2010;
- Asociacion Espanola de Comunicacion Cientifica: 1 December 2010;
- Kelebeck news: 19 November 2010;
- Yeni Asya Gazetesi: 18 November 2010;
- Hur Haber: 17 November 2010;
- Samanyoluhaber: 16 November 2010;
- T24News: 16 November 2010;
- Gelecek on line: 16 November 2010;
- Euronews: 16 November 2010;
- Foro Innovatec: 12 November 2010;
- Microciencia: 10 November 2010;
- Gaceta de Internet, Tecnologias y Sociedad de la Informacion: 10 November 2010;
- Diario ADN: 9 November 2010;
- Diario El Ideal: 9 November 2010;
- Youthpress: 27 October 2010;
- Cordis Wire News: 26 October 2010.

The other partners contributed in the dissemination of the press releases as well. ENEA promotion activities had two major objectives.

1. Address Casaccia researchers and urge them to consider taking part in the project. Apart from direct contact and briefing, the RELATE project had a dedicated page on the ENEA intranet (not accessible for the general public) and was published on ENEA Newsletter No.16 14 September 2009 and No. 24, 9 November 2009.

2. Inform the general public and local communities:
- ENEAweb TV covered the event in the ENEA News issue of 16 November 2009;
- with the collaboration of ENEA press office a media statement was released;
- and a few local newspapers published the news: l'Agone, Sabaudia News, il Velino;
- ENEAweb TV covered the last training and the final conference announcement in the ENEA News issue of 12 January 2011;

In ENEA, the promotion campaign addressing the researchers was quite effective, more labs asked to join in. Unfortunately most did not have EC funding for their research activities but rather for communication and networking initiatives and had to be crossed out. Considering the fact that Casaccia is close to Rome, where a number of events take place every day, it is a remarkable result that the local press considered the news worth publishing. TUBITAK prepared a press statement including information about the project and its aim and sent the document to national news agencies. A reporter from Turkish National News Agency visited the lab to interview the students and researchers. TUBITAK prepared press releases with the support of Minerva and a press release was published in the main Bilkent Campus newspaper. Minerva prepared an article about the 3rd round session of the project that was published by Bilkent News. Furthermore, the workshop which took place at Energy Lab during the EU Sustainable Energy week on 26 March 2010 was promoted on the official webpage, through to the monthly bulletin and trough The related press release was also sent out to the news agencies.

In EPFL an article was published in December 2009: EPFL wrote an article for the campus newspaper on the student's visit. The coordinator agreed with the Project Officer to have a publication on the website of the Science in Society. dissemination tools that were used were leaflets and posters. Starting from January 2011, new material was prepared in the occasion of the final conference, including a new version of the leaflet and the previous one was replaced with the new version that contains also some comments of the participants in the trainings. New version of the leaflet largely disseminated and used after the end of the project to promote the initiative to a wider number of targets and future potential beneficiaries

Project website

The official project website was launched by the end of June 2009 and has been regularly updated with information for both journalism students and researchers. The website was conceived to be clear, easy to understand and accessible by both members of the project, participants of EC programmes, general visitors, stakeholders and targets of the project. The website contains seven different sections, some of them divided into other sub-chapters. Minerva was in charge of the development and updating. The partners contributed together in sending relevant information and content. The students have been surfing on the website daily to catch up with news and information posted. They were enthusiastic about the various functionalities and used all of them for achieving the project objectives. In the area dedicated to the journalism students a wiki tool was used to allow journalists to post their daily blog-diary and upload their articles and video material produced. This area is still accessible and can be used as a demonstration tool for the effectiveness of the project and its impact on the target beneficiaries. A small booklet with all the stories of the students was published and distributed at the final conference in Brussels. An electronic version is available in the final conference dedicated area in the project website. The Facebook page created by EJC was constantly updated and a link in the Wikipedia page on science journalism was created;

Final conference

The final conference aimed presenting the results of the two years pilot project, funded by the EC under the FP7 Science in Society, as well as creating an occasion to debate ways to bridge the gap between science and journalism, foster the relationship between researchers and journalists, improve the spread of the scientific research in the media, so as the quality of the issues published. The final workshop took place on 28 January 2011 in Brussels, in Scotland House, located in Place Schumann. The final conference was an occasion for journalists, researchers, research communication officers, representatives of the European institutions, project partners and European experts in the fields of science and journalism to meet and discuss all together. All project partners participated in the final conference. One researcher from ENEA, one from EPFL, one from TUBITAK and one from a newly involved lab attended the conference and participated in a roundtable discussion.

In order to invite participants to the conference and raise awareness about the project results and achievements, Minerva ran a communication campaign at European level, which lasted from October 2010 until January 2011. The communication campaign preparation included the preparation of the messages, the sending out of the messages and the follow-up action to assure an adequate coverage. The aim was to gather as many participants as possible to attend the event but especially and to raise awareness about the project results and achievements and assuring the spreading of the relevant messages that the project wanted to communicate and raise awareness about these types of actions. The material used in the European communication campaign run by Minerva included the invitation, the press release and the programme. This information was sent out to the general and specialised media, teachers, researchers, journalism schools, science and journalism associations and other public and private institutions dealing with science and journalism. During the conference, the material was distributed among the participants, who were provided with the badge, the programme, the leaflet, the press clipping, the students' diaries booklet and a feedback form.

The final conference posters were placed everywhere in the building that hosted the event and in the conference room, and a roll-up was printed and placed at the entrance to welcome the conference attendees. The website was the main source of information for all of those who needed details about the event. Updated and relevant information was regularly uploaded in order to keep the audience informed about the final conference. At the end of the conference, the information was uploaded online and pictures and presentation were available for all visitors. The mailing list included different media that were previously informed about the project or new contacts that could be potentially interested in attending and hearing about the results. More than 400 contacts were informed and received the invitation by e-mail. A press release was prepared a few weeks before the event and sent by e-mail one week before the conference to the main European media. It included a brief description of the project, information about the researchers, the labs and the journalists involved in the three training sessions and details about the conference programme. A final press release was prepared and sent out one week after the event. It included information about the conference content and results and conclusions.

Project website:

RELATE project coordinator:

Ms Hinano Spreafico
Minerva Consulting & Communication Sprl.
32-34 Avenue de Tervuren, B-1040 Brussels - Belgium
Tel. +32-254-41888
Fax +32-251-35561
Skype user: hinano.spreafico

Mr Howard Hudson

Ms Fabiola Falconieri

Ms Mary Parlange

Ms Gulnihal Ergen