Public Engagement, Outreach and Science Communication Jargon

I've created a Jargon Buster tool for an exercise I ran with PGRs, researchers, administrators and technical staff.

As there isn't a place that these terms come together I thought others might find it useful. Happy to hear any alternative descriptors and arguments about the definitions are welcome.


Public Engagement

"Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit."

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (2018, Oct 16). What is Public Engagement? Retrieved from


“a one-way discourse, in which scientists communicate their research to the general public, with particular focus on school children and young people.”
Illingworth S, Redfern J, Millington S and Gray S. What’s in a Name? Exploring the Nomenclature of Science Communication in the UK [version 2; referees: 3 approved, 1 approved with reservations]F1000Research 2015, 4:409 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.6858.2)

Science Communication

“SCIENCE COMMUNICATION (SciCom) may be defined as the use of appropriate skills, media, activities, and dialogue to produce one or more of the following personal responses to science (the vowel analogy)
·        Awareness, including familiarity with new aspects of science
·        Enjoyment or other affective responses, e.g. appreciating science as entertainment or art
·        Interest, as evidenced by voluntary involvement with science or its communication
·        Opinions, the forming, reforming, or confirming of science-related attitudes
·        Understanding of science, its content, processes, and social factors Science communication may involve science practitioners, mediators, and other members of the general public, either peer-to-peer or between groups.
The AEIOU definition of science communication. This definition clarifies the purpose and characteristics of science communication and provides a basis for evaluating its effectiveness”

Burns, T. W., O'Connor, D. J., & Stocklmayer, S. M. (2003). Science communication: A contemporary definitionPublic Understanding of Science12, 183–202.

Knowledge Exchange

“any activity that involves engagement with businesses, public and third sector services, the community and the wider public, which involves the sharing of best practice, and which can be monitored for funding purposes.”
Illingworth S, Redfern J, Millington S and Gray S. What’s in a Name? Exploring the Nomenclature of Science Communication in the UK [version 2; referees: 3 approved, 1 approved with reservations]F1000Research 2015, 4:409
(doi: 10.12688/f1000research.6858.2)

Citizen Science

“Citizen science typically refers to research collaborations between scientists and volunteers, particularly (but not exclusively) to expand opportunities for scientific data collection and to provide access to scientific information for community members. As a working definition, we offer the following: projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions.”
Cornell Lab of Ornithology (2018, Oct 16). Citizen Science. Retrieved from

Responsible Research and Innovation

“Responsible research and innovation is an approach that anticipates and assesses potential implications and societal expectations with regard to research and innovation, with the aim to foster the design of inclusive and sustainable research and innovation.”
European Commission (2018, Oct 16). Responsible research & innovation. Retrieved from

"An approach where societal actors (researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organisations, etc.) work together during the whole research and innovation process in order to better align both the process and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society."
NUCLEUS Project (2018, Oct 16). Responsible research & innovation. Retrieved from

Open Science

"Science has always been open, unlike the processes for producing research and diffusing its results.
As other challenges need to be addressed such as infrastructure, intellectual property rights, content-mining and alternative metrics, but also inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary and international collaboration among all actors in research and innovation, the European Commission is now moving decisively from ‘Open access’ into the broader picture of ‘Open science’."
European Commission (2018, Oct 16). Open Science (Open Access). Retrieved from

A huge shout out to the University of Limerick Engage programme that gave me the inspiration for this at the NUCLEUS RRI conference a few weeks ago. They have their own Jargon Buster for engagement plus lots of other useful engagement and partnership building tools and support material! 


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