Principles for research communication
As a researcher or communications officer, when you are to convey information about research via the media, social media, events or in other public contexts, you should strive to observe the seven principles below.
Why are guidelines needed?
As a university, our mission includes external engagement and providing information about our activities and working for our research findings to be utilised. It is in the interests of the researchers, the University and society that findings and insights on the methodology and limitations of research are made accessible for public debate, political decisions, the business community and society as a whole.
Seven principles for good public research communication
When research is communicated, the content must be correct and give the target group a correct understanding of the relevant facts about both the results and the research involved.
What is relevant for the recipient to know? Bear in mind that the information conveyed is to be relevant for the recipient’s understanding of the research results. Provide relevant information about facts and data to ensure that content and conclusions cannot be misinterpreted or overinterpreted. Avoid communicating alarming messages unnecessarily.
Is there any uncertainty? Clarify the uncertainties that relate to the research. Scientific discoveries are associated with varying uncertainty factors depending on method, research design, data or theoretical suppositions. Be clear about any limitations/weaknesses/uncertainties relating to the results and their interpretation.
4. Scientific status
What is the scientific status of the research? Explain the status of the research in question. Is there broad support for the results among researchers, or do the results deviate from the general consensus within the field of research? Have the findings been published and reviewed in research publications or are they preliminary results, hypotheses etc.?
Who is the author? Researchers often communicate information that stems for other parts of the research world – i.e. information that they have not produced themselves. Conveying this information to society plays an important role in research communication, but it should be stated in the communication whether it derives from the researcher’s own research or someone else’s.
Research, other knowledge or point of view? Researchers often participate in public debate. It should be clear if the topic under discussion falls within the researcher’s own area of expertise or if it is based on other knowledge or a point of view that the researcher has.
State any vested interests! Be open about funding of the research as well as possible company interests and collaboration partners.
Notes to the principles
The seven principles should be seen as a benchmark for good research communication at the University, both for researchers and communications officers. The principles must be understood and applied in accordance with the traditions of the various fields of research and adapted to the different formats research communication may have.
Research communication is often disseminated via the media and social media, channels in which researchers or communications officers do not always have the possibility to steer the content of the communication all the way to the reader/viewer/listener. Even so, it is important that the University and researchers do their best to uphold the principles as far as possible when they communicate about research.
The principles act as both guidelines for the University’s own work and as a basis for a dialogue with the media, politicians and the public when research is to be presented to the world.
The guidelines do not limit the rights of staff to use their constitutionally protected freedom of expression or the right to submit information for publication in the media (freedom to communicate information). These freedoms and rights are regulated in the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.
The principles are based on the Danish universities’ agreements on research communication, which in turn are based on the European universities’ cooperation organisation ALLEA’s rules on good research practice.
- Read about the Danish universities’ common principles for good research communication at dkuni.dk (in Danish)
- Download a PDF of The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity from the European universities cooperation organisation ALLEA (in Swedish)
- Download the report Good Research Practice from the Swedish Research Council website
The principles are supported by the Lund University Research Board and Ethics Council as well as the University’s vice-chancellor and deans.
press [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
Press Manager, University Management
+46 46 222 70 18
anna [dot] johansson [at] rektor [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 70 28
ulrika [dot] oredsson [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 727 07 45 46
lotte [dot] billing [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se