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The challenges of scientific journalism according to Mexican university professors, newspaper directors and heads of research

Aixchel Cordero-Hidalgo (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico)
Javier Tarango (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico)
Claudia-Patricia Contreras (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico)
José Refugio Romo-González (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 10 October 2017

182

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the challenges of scientific literacy that scientific journalism can promote or suppress as a scientific dissemination activity. To ensure that universities transfer knowledge to society, this vital activity is studied from the perspectives of their stakeholders: professors, researchers, newspaper directors and heads of research areas of two Mexican universities.

Design/methodology/approach

From a participatory action research perspective that consisted in applying semi-structured interviews, this study was conducted in two public universities in Chihuahua, Mexico. The group of participants constituted of a random sample of 90 Mexican professors, taken from a population of 246 subjects with the status of national researchers (confidence level = 95 per cent; margin of error = 5 per cent; P/Q correlation = 90 / 10 per cent), in addition to six local newspaper executives and eight research managers at participating universities.

Findings

Evidence suggests that scientific dissemination has a low social impact, its recognition by universities and scientific evaluation institutions is limited, and the act of making scientific content accessible to the general public is highly complex, especially when it comes to content related to the exact sciences. These results are predictable under the complex models that evaluate scientific production, because the measurement indicators that define scientific competitiveness levels prioritize specific scientific products other than dissemination products such as newspaper articles.

Research limitations/implications

Data were collected from two Mexican public universities under the implication that the behavior identified through data analysis can occur in other similar environments. Although a participatory action research perspective was assumed, and because this research of a projective nature can be a part of a larger research, no particular actions or interventions were planned or executed, apart from the interviews that aimed to collect data that emerged from participants’ own practice and experiences on the issues studied. Further research can consist of developing forward-looking actions that can contribute to the development of scientific literacy, as well as to the exploration and solution of the issues identified through participants’ own practice.

Originality/value

One of the social roles of universities is to ensure that scientific knowledge reaches all citizens. However, there are not sufficient studies regarding scientific dissemination, especially from the perspective of professors as generators of scientific knowledge, newspaper directors and heads of research areas.

Keywords

Citation

Cordero-Hidalgo, A., Tarango, J., Contreras, C.-P. and Romo-González, J.R. (2017), "The challenges of scientific journalism according to Mexican university professors, newspaper directors and heads of research", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 118 No. 9/10, pp. 503-517. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-04-2017-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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