doxa.comunicación | 26, pp. 169-189 | 170

January-June 2018

Spanish Science Culture and Innovation Units (UCC+i) in digital press: a case study Cristina González-Pedraz, Ana Victoria Pérez-Rodríguez, Eva Campos-Domínguez, Miguel Ángel Quintanilla Fisac

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978


Las oficinas de comunicación de la ciencia (SCO) son departamen-tos habituales en los centros de investigación. El presente trabajo realiza un estudio de caso sobre unas SCO particulares por su fin so-cial, las Unidades de Cultura Científica y de la Innovación (UCC+i) españolas, y su impacto en medios digitales. Se aplica una metodo-logía mixta, el análisis de contenido cuantitativo y la observación cualitativa, sobre una muestra de 3619 textos procedentes de 19 periódicos digitales españoles entre enero y septiembre de 2016. El trabajo sugiere que estas unidades están favoreciendo la visibilidad de la ciencia española y que los medios digitales con escasos recursos dependen informativamente de ellas.

Palabras clave:

Comunicación científica; prensa digital; periodismo científico; UCC+i; análisis de contenido.

Recibido: 16/03/2018 / Aceptado: 24/05/2018


Science communication offices (SCOs) are common departments in research centers and their work has been favored by the in-creasing availability of online tools. This work study the impact reached in digital newspapers by the Spanish Science Culture and Innovation Units (UCC+i), a specific type of SCO focused on the dissemination of scientific culture to citizens. A mixed methodol-ogy –content analysis and qualitative observation– is applied on a sample of 3619 news items from 19 Spanish digital newspapers between January and September 2016. Results suggest that UCC+i become a key actor to assure public visibility of research centers in regional and local newspapers. Also that digital media with low resources depend informatively on them.


Science communication; digital press; science journalism; UCC+I; content analysis.

Received: 16/03/2018 / Accepted: 24/05/2018

1. Introduction

Internet has completely change the way in which science has been communicated to the lay public. Online media has broken the technical and economic barriers that separated science journalism in traditional media from their largely passive audiences (Peters et al., 2014). The online environment allows a more immediate communication and, in turn, has the potential to make research more visible in the public sphere (Holliman, 2010).

It has also enriched the ways in which science is communicated (Trench, 2007). The interactive nature of tools such as blogs or social networks makes it possible to improve understanding of science so that communicators who have online storytelling skills today have the potential to communicate science much more effectively (Dunwoody, 2014). In addition, Internet allows finding a wide range of background in relation to a scientific issue (Koolstra et al., 2006), which favors the presentation of complex and controversial scientific subjets in an attractive and innovative way (Hermida, 2010).

At the same time, corporate public relations in the field of science have become a widespread phenomenon in research centers in recent years (Trench, 2009). While during the 90s those departments were rare exceptions, today there is scarcely a single university or research institution without a science communication office –SCO– (Gerber, 2014).

Internet, and 2.0 tools are also responsible for this boom, so they enable these scientific communication offices to effectively communicate with their vast audiences trough two different channels: on the one hand, the media, so that