Communication of European Health Research
The CommHERE consortium comprises 10 partners, all research institutions active in the health research area. All partners are responsible for the coordination of EU-funded health research projects. This strong EU research connection is crucial for the proposed project plan, since it gives the consortium the possibility to work in close contact with the actual performers of health research.
The general concept of CommHERE is to act on parallel levels which both are developed during the project period.
On the one hand there will be an increase in actual communication activities on ongoing research directed towards the media, various stakeholders and the general public by production of press releases, virtual texts and images, and outreach activities. Basic tools and guidelines for this, applicable on a European level, will be prepared, used and developed.
On the other hand – for a long-term sustainable effect – the project participants will work closely with the PIs and other representatives of new and ongoing research projects to encourage and motivate them, by giving tools, feed-back and incentives for continuous communication also outside of the scientific community.
All activities will initially be made on a local level, within each of the participant’s institutions, but towards a European audience. The guidelines, experiences and any good examples will successively be spread nationally and between countries. A network of communication officers from all parts of Europe will stimulate future collaboration, sharing of experiences and competence building.
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Grant agreement ID: 282539
1 October 2011
30 September 2014
€ 2 249 134
€ 1 998 441
Enhancing communication of health research projects
The project COMMHERE (Communication of European health research) comprised a nine-partner consortium of institutions active in health research. All had experience and responsibility for coordinating EU-funded health research projects, and all members were professional communication or administration officers. The project thus had a strong base to achieve its goal of improving the understanding of health-related topics for all and boost awareness of funding support for health research in Europe. Initially, local networks were built with researchers funded by FP7 Health within their own institutions. Communication activities focused on media and audiences beyond the scientific community, and included media releases, online activities and outreach events on a national, European and international level. As baseline analysis 51 Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) Health projects coordinated by partner institutions were identified to highlight previous successful approaches to public relations. An article summarising the findings of this work was published in the LINK magazine of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA). Tools and guidelines were developed and subsequently used for coordinating production and distribution of health research news. For example, various online Twitter accounts supported distribution at European level and the HorizonHealth.eu web portal was launched for the general public. EU-funded health research projects were presented at local science festivals, and also in Wroclaw, Poland and in Prague, Czech Republic. Other activities included organisation of popular scientific sessions at ESOF and AAAS conferences, a Research Forum on Active Ageing for policymakers in Brussels, and a study visit to cutting-edge research institutions in Barcelona for science journalists. Evaluation of project work and outcomes showed that mentoring and coaching activities had a visible impact on the quantity and quality of communication activities. Topical sessions and local outreach events were particularly successful for communicating the activities of health research projects. COMMHERE has enhanced and boosted communication of ongoing research, and established a long-term impact through close collaboration with research leaders and representatives of ongoing and new research projects.
Grant agreement ID: 282539
1 October 2011
30 September 2014
€ 2 249 134
€ 1 998 441
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Final Report Summary - COMMHERE (Communication of European Health Research)
1.1 Executive summary
The overall aim of the CommHERE project was to improve communication on the outcome of EU-funded health research projects to the media, the general public and other target groups in Europe and beyond. The CommHERE consortium has comprised nine partners, all research institutions active in the health research area and responsible for the coordination of EU-funded health research projects. The project members have all been professional communication or administration officers.
The work in the CommHERE project was conducted within six work packages (WPs) with different character. Three WPs (WP4-6) had a strategic character and developed tools and guidelines which were used in the communication activities performed by each partner within a fourth WP (WP3). One WP (WP2) made a baseline analysis and a final evaluation of the project. One WP (WP1) had the objective to plan and execute dissemination activities to secure the impact beyond the project period.
During the first project period the CommHERE project partners built local networks with the EU-funded researchers within their own institutions and performed communication activities with a focus on media and audiences outside of the scientific society. This included media releases, on-line activities and outreach events like participation in Researchers’ Night and open house-events.
During the second project period the arena for activities was expanded beyond the local level and towards European and international audiences. The project arranged popular scientific sessions at for example the ESOF Conference in Copenhagen and at AAAS in Detroit. A Research Forum on Active Ageing was arranged for policy makers in Brussels. Also a study visit to cutting-edge research institutions in Barcelona was arranged for science journalists.
Tools and guidelines for further communication activities on a national and European level were developed. These included media guidelines as well as CommHERE channels on AlphaGalileo, Cordis and Twitter.
The HorizonHealth.eu web portal was developed for attractive exposure of ongoing health research, in the format of project presentations, articles, videos, and links to Twitter.
The European Communication Network for researchers, project leaders and communicators within EU-funded health research projects was built around an offer of sharing tools and experiences as well as taking part in educational seminars. These proved to be welcome activities for researchers trying to meet the expectations and demands to disseminate their research outside of the scientific society, which they don’t know how to address.
An evaluation report showed that the coaching activities of CommHERE members had a visible impact on the communication activities of the EU-projects – despite the limited timespan and resources of this communication action. Mentored projects engaged in a high number of communication activities – and overall it was apparent that the two types of activity that were particularly successful were local outreach events and topical sessions featuring leading scientists at larger national, European and international events.
Project Context and Objectives:
Summary description of project context and objectives
Context and overall aim
EU-funded research in Health focuses on several prioritized areas such as brain diseases, diabetes and obesity, emerging epidemics, cancer and personalized medicine, to cite a few. Through this funding strong European research and medical breakthroughs are made possible. Studies show that the general public has a large interest in health-related subjects, but today the research results and medical advances are usually communicated mainly within the scientific community.
The overall aim of CommHERE was to improve communication on the outcome of EU-funded health research projects to the media, the general public and other target groups in all of Europe and beyond.
Specific aims were to:
• Develop new and existing methods, measures, tools and guidelines for communication of EU-funded research results to the general public and other target groups through the press, web, virtual media and outreach activities and to do this in a European context.
• During the whole project support, encourage, motivate and educate the PIs of EU-funded health research projects in communication issues, mainly by showing them tools, the outcome of good examples and the impact of successful communication.
• Find measures to reach audiences in all of Europe by translation and adaptation of key messages to national contexts.
• Initially implement these measures in the EU-funded research projects coordinated by the partner’s institutions to distribute their research outcome to the European public.
• Encourage implementation of these measures on a broader scale through further national and European networking.
• Build long-lasting “European” competence among information officers by supportive networking for continuous exchange of experiences.
The general concept of CommHERE was to act on parallel levels which both were developed during the project period:
i. On the one hand there was an increase in actual communication activities about on-going research directed towards the general public by production of press releases, virtual texts and images, and outreach activities. Basic tools and guidelines were prepared, used and developed.
ii. On the other hand – for a long-term sustainable effect – the project participants worked closely with research leaders and other representatives of new and ongoing research projects to encourage and motivate them, by giving tools, feedback and incentives for continuous communication also outside of the scientific community.
All activities were initially made on a local level, within each of the participants’ institutions. Guidelines and experiences were successively spread nationally with the aim of building a European network for research communication.
• To identify successful means of communication
• To actively support and mentor ongoing EU-funded research projects in communication towards the media and the general public.
• To build motivation and skills among research groups in communication of research results to a lay audience as a basis for a long-term effect of the project.
• To develop, distribute and implement tools for communicating EU research to various European media.
• To build a web portal with information adjusted and directed towards a lay public.
• To find means for outreach activities directed towards various target groups in Europe.
• To implement the developed communication methods in a large number of EU research projects.
• To initiate a network of communication officers (or similar) with participation from a large number of EU research projects.
Description of the main S&T results/foregrounds
The work in the CommHERE project was conducted within six work packages (WPs) of different character. Three WPs (WP4-6) had a strategic character and developed tools and guidelines which were used in the communication activities performed by each partner within yet another WP (WP3). One WP (WP2) made a baseline analysis and a final evaluation of the project. One WP (WP1) had the objective to plan and execute dissemination activities to secure the impact beyond the project’s lifetime.
During the first project period the CommHERE project partners performed communication activities with a focus on research and researchers within their own institutions and developed the tools and guidelines needed for further communication activities on a national and European level. During the second project period the arena for activities was expanded beyond the local level and towards European and international target groups.
In the start-up phase of CommHERE the dissemination activities of finalised FP6 and FP7 EU Health research projects coordinated at the partner institutions were analysed to identify the-state-of-the art in dissemination activities before CommHERE, and a few good practices were identified (Deliverable D2.1).
The baseline analysis identified a total of 51 FP6 Health projects coordinated at (or "key partnered" by) CommHERE partner institutions and surveyed field of research and communication strategy of each. The main tool applicable to the analysis was the projects’ final Plan for Dissemination and Utilisation of Knowledge (PUDK). The information was used to identify tools, budgets, routes, and target groups of communication activities, taking into account project size (budget, number of partners) and topics.
Outcomes from this study identified a number of successful approaches to public relations relevant to WP3 and also input for WP5 (Web) as, for example, the need for prolonged storage of project-produced materials since project websites are generally closed about a year after termination of the projects.
An article summarising the findings was produced and published in the LINK magazine of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA), a forum of EU project managers.
The work within each local network has led to increased communication on current FP7 Health projects coordinated by each partners. A large number of media activities have been reported including press releases about new research findings. Interviews and videos have been exposed on websites or broadcasted on radio/TV. News texts or thematic articles have been produced for magazines and websites including the HorizonHealth.eu web platform. Researchers have presented their research in various popular science events like for example the Researchers’ Night or institutional “open houses”.
Local and national communication networks
All CommHERE partners have built and been active in their local network. Six partners have also been assigned the task to coordinate a national network. Partner 10 (SISSA) have directed their activities nationally, since they are not themselves coordinators of any FP7 Health research projects.
Communication plans have been made in collaboration with representatives for all locally coordinated Health research projects – with the exception of a few projects where we experienced a lack of interest from the project’s side. The plans have been followed up continually as part of the regular networking.
Basic communication has been secured and a large number of communication activities towards media (press, TV, radio), web channels and in outreach settings have been made.
Tables of all reported communication activities were attached to the first and second periodic reports. A considerable number of communication activities have also been performed within the institution’s ordinary routines.
Feedback from performed activities has been given continually as part of the regular networking.
Within the national networks contacts have been made and general information has been distributed. The task of building national networks was intensified after M18 when the web portal HorizonHealth.eu was launched.
Inspiring and educational seminars in popular science communication and in the impact of communication were arranged within the local and national networks.
During the running of the project it has become apparent that educational activities need thorough preparations and a deep knowledge about the character of the local research network to be well-attended.
Tables of all reported educational activities were attached to the first and second periodic reports.
Outreach activities towards local target groups
All partners have arranged outreach activities on a local or national level. The character of the performed events have typically been either as part of an institutional “open day” or as part of a larger event like Researchers’ Night.
A general experience has been that most researchers that have been invited to participate in an outreach event have been positive to participate. Researchers that initially had any doubt to participate have mostly been more enthusiastic after participating in an event.
Tables of all reported communication activities, including outreach activities were attached to the first and second periodic reports.
Media guidelines and strategies
Guidelines for press releases on new scientific publications and about ongoing research projects have been created. Documents on how to best monitor communication actions and give feedback to researchers and all the FP7 partners as well as on the specificities of communicating on health research, and advices on how to proceed have been prepared.
The created guidelines and documents were circulated via email to all the CommHERE partners and were available for all affiliated members.
The challenges of adapting documents to local needs was addressed so that all CommHERE members made translation and adaptations locally but supported by the CommHERE project.
CommHERE AlphaGalileo, Cordis, and CommHERE Twitter account were created (@horizonhealtheu) and used regularly to distribute information.These CommHERE channels have facilitated the task of disseminating information for individual projects and smaller research institutions.
Media distribution and monitoring
The CommHERE partners have been collaborating with each other and with other research institutions outside of the project whenever they want to highlight a collaborative research project. Collaboration has been active on different levels, first on writing news releases, and then on distributing it across different countries and distribution channels (AlphaGalileo, EurekAlert, Cordis, Twitter). The Twitter feed is also implemented on the horizonhealth.eu website, to give it more visibility.
This resulted in the dissemination a total of 49 news releases between November 2012 and August 2014. These releases were sent to an average of 3535 journalists, with 417 of them on average actually viewing the news. In addition, individual research institutions disseminated their releases via their individual AlphaGalileo channels.
The CommHERE monitoring platform was set-up during the first half of the project and was managed by a subcontractor (Kantarmedia) until its end. It monitored the presence of the FP7 projects and of the ERC grantees of the CommHERE members both in the online media and in the social media.
After careful evaluation of the media outcome generated by our centralized monitoring platform, we realized that all the CommHERE members were reaching out efficiently to audiences in Western-Europe and North-America but not in Eastern-Europe, despite having used pan-European dissemination services and translating the news releases in English. More information of this is found in deliverable 2.3 Evaluation report.
Events for journalists
A stand during the WCSJ2013 in June 2013 in Helsinki, Finland, attracted a number of journalists who got a direct contact with the project, its dissemination tools and social media channels. This event was also the starting point of the collaboration with the EUSJA for the organization of a study trip to Barcelona.
A session organized during the AAAS2014 provided the North-American journalists with a 360° vision of the current state of European research on the gut microbiome, with representatives of two CommHERE member institutions and one CommHERE partner institution. The CommHERE session was a success: it welcomed more people than the room could accomodate (there were people sitting on the floor and even on the stage) and the speakers did several interviews with international media.
A study trip for European science journalists to Barcelona in May 2014 was organized in collaboration with the EUSJA. It allowed a group of 15 journalists to benefit from an in-depth visit of 4 cutting-edge research institutions in Barcelona, Spain. It also strenghtened the links between these 4 institutions that now plan to collaborate on other projects.
HorizonHealth.eu – web portal for the general public
The web portal HorizonHealth.eu where European health research institutions can communicate the outcomes of their research to the general public was launched in March 2013 by Professor Anne Glover, chief scientific officer to the EC and has been up and running since. On the web portal, presentations of EU-funded health research projects are exposed in an attractive way, informative “In Focus” articles give access to more knowledge, news are found via a Twitter link and videos are uploaded onto YouTube.
A total of 88 projects have published a presentation of their project on HorizonHealth.eu and a total of 77 In Focus articles have been edited and published in order to attract readers to HorizonHealth.eu and to discuss issues and topics of European health research. Since the launch of HorizonHealth.eu In Focus articles have been published on HorizonHealth.eu on a weekly basis.
Promotion of the web portal has been made for example in CORDIS results magazine Research*eu, at NCP-Health-Network meetings, at ESOF 2014, at NUAS 2012, and at several other research related meetings in Europe.
HorizonHealth.eu has realized 28,227 unique page views in 20 months, since the launch. This is an average of 1.411 unique page views per month.
European outreach events
In order to present EU health research in Eastern Europe, CommHERE selected two science festivals - the Lower Silesian Science Festival in Wroclaw, Poland and the Science and Technology Week in Prague, the Czech Republic - where EU-funded Health research projects were presented.
The Lower Silesian Science Festival is a large annual science festival held in September with its 15th edition in 2013. The festival covers all fields of science, including biotechnology, nanotechnology and nanotechniques as well as social sciences and humanities. The events address mostly school students with a large number of events (850 in 2012) being open to the general public, too.
The CommHERE event took place on Sept 24, 2013 at the Collegium Anatomicum of the Wrocław Medical University, well assisted by festival staff. It was planned to be in English and Polish in equal parts to literally cross the language barrier. The title of the presentation was: “When the heart has lost its strength, what else is going on in the body?” Miroslava Valentova, Bartlomiej Paleczny and Agnieszka Rydlewska held a lecture about their EU-funded health project SICA-HF. It was followed by the presentation of several instruments to measure the health status of a patient. People from the audience were asked to test these instruments. The audience of about 15 persons consisted of researchers and university staff, as well as the chief organizers of the festival, Prof. Orzechowski and Prof. Dobosz. Unfortunately, the expected three classes of school students did not turn up. There were several journalists, who used the opportunity to interview the researchers. Because of this experience we recommend to always arrange for a lecture in the local language.
The Week of Science and Technology in Prague is the largest scientific festival in the Czech Republic taking place each year at the beginning of November in all major cities of the country. Students and teachers at secondary schools as well as the general public have the opportunity to look into many research workplaces, laboratories and libraries and learn ‘how science is done’. There are lectures, exhibitions, science cafés, films and open labs to discover. Lectures are in Czech language, and English lectures with simultaneous translation are said not be a successful format. The festival has strong sponsoring partners from the energy industry and television media.
CommHERE presented the FP7-HEALTH project SOPHIE on Nov 13, 2013. The title was: “Mladí a zdraví?” (“Young and Healthy?”). Doc. RNDr. Dagmar Dzúrová held a very lively lecture that was followed by a question and answer session. There was an audience of approximately 60 secondary school children and their teachers. The lecture was recorded and broadcasted.
After the lecture, a meeting with the organizer, Radek Rejchrt, took place to discuss future collaboration. Suggested formats are lectures, exhibitions, films/documentaries of 60min length, and all formats should be in Czech language, documentaries should be subtitled.
On Sept. 3 2014, in the first week in office for the new European Parliament, CommHERE organized The European Research Forum on Discoveries and Innovations for Healthy Ageing at the Résidence Palace in Brussels. It was a one day event with the presentation of 6 EU-funded health research projects to an audience of EU policy makers, EC co-workers and various representatives from institutions within health and research on a European level. The programme was framed by an introductory keynote speech by Maria Iglesia-Gomez, DG Health and Consumers and a panel discussion with Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, DG RTD, as well as two of the researchers, Knut Steffensen, KI, and Andrea de Winter, University of Groningen. With an audience of more than 60 attendees the event brought together relevant stakeholders and fostered discussion and networking around European funded ageing research and the policy making around it.
The European Research Forum showed that discoveries and innovations for healthy ageing are more than necessary in order to let people keep their quality of life during the gained years. The six projects presented this day showed that a considerable amount of research is ongoing but there is still a long way to go. The European Research Forum also showed the value and importance of providing forums where researchers and other actors within a multi-professional field like ageing can come together for exchange of knowledge and ideas, and also bring information further to political leaders and decision-makers.
The Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) is Europe’s largest, general science meeting and is held in a leading Europe city every two years. It is an interdisciplinary, pan-European meeting, held under the auspices of Euroscience, which aims to showcase the latest advances in science and technology, promote a dialogue on the role of science and technology in society and public policy and stimulate and provoke public interest, excitement and debate about science and technology.
CommHERE participated at ESOF 2014 through the preparation of two scientific sessions with researchers out of FP7-Health projects and related specialists, the preparation of a communication session on good practice in science communication, the presentation of the theatre play “Dr Jekyll and Mr AIDS” on the HIV virus and through running a CommHERE-stand in the exhibition area.
The selection process for proposals is highly competitive - only about 80 out of 500 proposals get chosen to take part at ESOF, so the WP6-team was very happy to learn that all three submitted proposals were accepted through the programme committee.
The following design-principles were considered when preparing the scientific sessions:
• Bring together renowned as well as young scientists with experts of other related institutions and with specialists that can reflect upon the social relevance of the field, like journalists.
• Bring together experts out of several European countries
• Use a format that fosters exchange between audience and penal speakers and exceeds a usual penal discussion format
• Scientific Session I: The power, limitations and future of genetic profiling and cancer prevention
The first scientific session on June 23, 2014 with a focus on cancer prevention was to present leading research in genetic epidemiology. It was part of the Science, democracy and citizenship-section of the conference. The speakers of the session were Per Hall (project COGS), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and Christina Berndt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany. It was moderated by Rhonda Smith, Minerva Communications, UK (who is a member of the CommHERE Advisory Board).
In the second part of the session, a discussion with the audience was to be fostered by cases prepared together with the panel discussants beforehand. There was an audience of 60 attending.
• Scientific Session II: The danger of new infections: what can be done to reduce the risks?
The second scientific session on June 24, 2014 had a focus on the danger of new infections and was part of the Science, democracy and citizenship-section of the conference. The speakers included Ab Osterhaus (projects Emperie and Vectorie), Erasmus MC, Netherlands, Miguel Ángel Jiménez-Clavero (project EuroWestNile), INIA, Spain, Karl Ekdahl, ECDC, and Fabio Turone, Agency Zoe of Science Journalism, Italy. It was moderated by Carl Johan Sundberg, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (who is a member of the CommHERE Advisory Board).
The session had the format of a panel discussion, which was complemented by a role-play-scenario carried through by volunteers of the audience. The panelists were assigned 10 min. to present their current work. During the role play they functioned as advisors for the participants of the scenario. There was an audience of 60 attending.
• Communication Session: Yes! or Oops! Triumphs and blunders in health research communication
The session on science communication on June 24, 2014 was part of the Science, democracy and citizenship-section of the conference. The speakers included Mattias Hammarström (project KARMA), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, Isabelle Kling, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany, and Anja Konschak (project PROSPECTS), Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Germany. It was moderated by Carl Johan Sundberg, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (member of the CommHERE Advisory Board) and Lena Raditsch, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany.
This session guided the audience through an exposé of real life success stories and failures in health research communication. All speakers represented a research institution or project and presented a specific communications case. After listening to their presentations, their efforts to communicate scientific results were reflected by the audience by encouraging them to share their views, experiences and reactions to each story. There was an audience of 70 attending.
• Theatre Play: Dr Jekyll and Mr AIDS
The science theatre play on the AIDS disease on June 23, 2014 was part of the Science in the City-section of the conference. Participants were Lorenzo Acquaviva, actor and co-author of the piece, Italy and Maurizio Botta of the University of Siena, Italy.
Dr Jekyll and Mr AIDS is a science-theatre play on the AIDS disease, written and designed by SISSA and sponsored by CommHERE. The play is a dialogue between Mr AIDS and his alter-ego, Dr Jekyll, played by one of the researchers working on the THINPAD project, an EU-funded research project - coordinated by the University of Siena - that is developing and testing new drugs to prevent drug-resistance responses typical of present antiretroviral drugs. But Dr Jekyll and Mr AIDS is, most of all, a funny, politically-incorrect comedy on one of the worst pandemics of the recent decades.
• CommHERE stand
The CommHERE stand in the exhibition hall was continuously staffed from June 22 at noon through June 26 afternoon. It presented information on the CommHERE activities and network as well as on HorizonHealth.eu.
Dissemination towards a European network
The aim of the dissemination was to raise awareness of the impact of communication among researchers and to enlarge the CommHERE network with affiliated members to build a sustainable European communication network within EU-funded health research.
The CommHERE website at Cordis was opened in October 2011.
An information leaflet was produced in March 2012 with general information about the objectives of the CommHERE project and what it can offer to various target groups. This version of the leaflet has been distributed to all partners to be used in dissemination activities on a local, national and European level so far. A second version of the leaflet was prepared when the web portal had been opened and the process of expanding the network with affiliated members was initiated.
Dissemination activities on a European/international level have been regularly performed by all project partners in various forums and valuable contacts have been made. Major dissemination events have been the WCSJ meeting in Helsinki in June 2013, and the ESOF Conference in Copenhagen in June 2014.
A large part of the dissemination of CommHERE has been made along with the building of the CommHERE Network.
Possible future dissemination and communication activities in line with the CommHERE objectives were discussed during the final project meeting as well as in other contexts. A summary of these discussions was as follows:
• There is a great demand for communication mentoring and support from scientific partners in research projects.
• At present, there is no call addressing this demand within the Horizon2020.
• None of the CommHERE partners’ institutions is willing to take responsibility for the coordination of a European communication network on a voluntary basis.
Building a European communication network in health research
The CommHERE Network - a European network for researchers, project leaders and communicators within EU-funded health research projects - was initiated in the spring of 2013. The aim of the network was to increase the interest and competence in communication of ongoing research and to offer guidelines and exchange of experiences.
An invitation to join the CommHERE Network was distributed to all EU-funded health project leaders in the CommHERE partners’ countries and in most other European countries and we have established connections with around one third of all ongoing EU-funded FP7 projects in Health.
We have received approximately 130 notifications of interest to join the network and about 80 have been active in some way. This means that we have established connections with around one third of all ongoing EU-funded FP7 projects in Health.
All members affiliated to the CommHERE Network have been offered the following tools for communication:
• Invitations to publish their project presentations and feature articles on the web platform HorizonHealth.eu. This includes also the possibility to download the project presentations in a pdf-format.
• Invitations to distribute project videos via HorizonHealth’s YouTube channel.
• Possibilities to publish news and press releases on AlphaGalileo (multiple languages).
• Invitations to CommHERE Network communication seminars.
• The CommHERE Network’s Newsletter.
• Access to a community of researchers and communicators active in EU-funded health research across Europe.
The main coordination channel has been the CommHERE Network Newsletter, sent from the WP1 office at partner Karolinska Institutet. Six issues have been produced during the period December 2013 to September 2014. The open page of the CommHERE project website has been modified to address the interests of the CommHERE Network. Communication has also occurred between affiliated members and their national coordinating member of CommHERE and/or with the CommHERE coordinator.
CommHERE has organized three communication seminar days for the CommHERE Network with invited speakers presenting various communication topics:
• Paris, 23 October 2013 – at Inserm
• Berlin, 20 March 2014 – at Charité
• Brussels 4 September 2014 – at the Swedish Representations Office
At these three network seminars 21, 17, and 22 affiliated members respectively, from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, the UK, and Serbia were present.
A general impression from the meetings and discussions with network members is that the research leaders (coordinators, project leaders) are well aware that of the high expectations and demands that they should disseminate their research outside of the scientific society, and they have a positive approach to this. They express, however, that they feel lost in the field of communication and do not know how to fulfil this task. They do not know how to include communication in their project planning, neither in theory nor in practice, or who to turn to for advice and support.
Many academic institutions - but not all - have an organization for communication support to their researchers, but this does not necessarily include support to European projects that comprise a consortium with many partners.
To show and share examples of good communication practice across Europe has shown to be an effective tool for the researchers who wish to broaden their view of communication and what can be achieved. The seminars’ topics have been highly appreciated by the members of the network who have been given an opportunity to learn from others’ experiences and to learn from dos and don’ts explained in a simple manner.
Many members of the CommHERE Network have emphasized the need for a widened professional network as a means to exchange ideas, to share information and develop best practice in European and international science communication.
Meeting with like-minded counterparts with the same agenda, have created new relationships, knowledge and understanding of the European landscape and its scope in relation to communication. Valuable exchange has already occurred, and is likely to continue also after the network has ended due to the creation of new contacts.
More details about the European network were described in the second periodic report and in Deliverable D1.12.
During the observation period, CommHERE members were involved in close to 300 outreach and com¬munication activities with and for FP7 projects coordinated at their institutions. The analysis set out to determine the scope and "success” of this mentored communication of FP7 projects in the Health field, to relate them to earlier findings in a similar study on FP6 projects performed at the project start and to translate key findings into sug¬gestions for future project communication.
We found that the coaching activities of CommHERE members had a visible impact on the communication activities of the EU-projects – despite the limited timespan and resources of this communication action. Mentored projects engaged in a high number of communication activities – and overall it was apparent that two types of activity were particularly successful:
(i) local events in already established formats such as science cafés, workshops and lectures for the public and
(ii) CommHERE-organized individual topical sessions featuring leading scientists of different projects in an established larger context, such as the Madrid Science Week, Researchers’ Nights in several European cities, and the ESOF and AAAS conferences.
The mentoring also led to an improved communication between projects, grants offices and communication departments at the partner institutions and also helped form a network between the communication experts at the different institutions, thereby improving general communication activities considerably. Key benefits of the networking are:
1. It has facilitated communication when scientists at dif¬ferent CommHERE partner institutions work on the same project: they were now spreading a common coherent message while allow¬ing each partner to highlight its specificity.
2. This increased collaboration together with the tools created in CommHERE (the adaptable news release for example, see D4.2 SOP for media relations) has allowed some smaller research institutions, that usually get no visibility, to get some.
3. It opened up new ways of collaborating for the participating communication officers. Being organised through an EU-funded project enabled CommHERE partners to acquire a coveted slot to speak on renowned conferences such as AAAS and ESOF, which would have been almost impossible to achieve as a single project of one single institution.
Suggestions for successful project communication derived from the D2.3 analysis:
• Strengthen the links between the projects’ scientists (in particular the principal investigators) and the communication officers at the institution and stay in touch throughout the project.
• Encourage networking between the communications officers at the different institutions involved in the project.
• Establish a standard portfolio of support services and tools available for new projects (a template for the project website and a first press release, media guidelines, help with setting up a communication plan).
• Send coherent messages – use joint press information and a coordinate timing of release between press offices at the partner institutions.
• Draw from the experience of the local communications office – use established formats.
• Involve project researchers in local outreach activities (providing positive feedback, encouraging further activities).
• Organise joint outreach activities with different projects on related topics to widen scope and enhance impact.
The potential impact and the main dissemination activities and exploitation of results
The CommHERE project has contributed to the over-arching goal of bringing science closer to the general public, to narrow the gap between scientists, lay audiences and other stakeholders. A well- informed public is one of the links to shorten the time for scientific results to be translated into practice and innovations. A good insight in the world of ongoing publicly funded research is also a matter of democracy.
The main communication activities within the CommHERE project were:
• Mentoring and active communication support to ongoing EU-funded research projects
• Development and implementation of communication tools, including the HorizonHealth.eu web portal
• Outreach activities on a local, national, European and international level
These activities have all been targeting a wide audience and contributed to a better understanding of health-related topics and the impact of science.
The main dissemination activities have targeted EU-funded research leaders within Health to offer them support, exchange of tools, advice and experiences in various formats. The building of motivation and skills in communication among research group leaders has enforced their routines in collaborative communication also towards an audience outside of the scientific community and on a European arena. This strengthening of skills and insight in the impact of communication will hopefully have a lasting effect among all researchers that were participating in our activities.
The close contacts between the CommHERE project members – all professionals in communication – and also with colleagues at affiliated partners institutions has enabled skills development that will have a lasting effect. All have acquired better insights in research within EU-funded projects and a closer relationship has been established between communication offices and local research support offices. The understanding of the impact of science communication has increased within our institutions with the result that communication advice is requested already in the process of writing new applications to the EU.
List of Websites:
Project public website
Since the building of the European network the website has been used in two parts; one open section for dissemination and service towards the target group of EU-funded Health research leaders and one section behind log-in for the CommHERE partners to find relevant information and documents.
Grant agreement ID: 282539
1 October 2011
30 September 2014
€ 2 249 134
€ 1 998 441
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 282539
1 October 2011
30 September 2014
€ 2 249 134
€ 1 998 441
Grant agreement ID: 282539
1 October 2011
30 September 2014
€ 2 249 134
€ 1 998 441