Assessing motivations and barriers to science outreach within academic science research settings: A mixed-methods survey

Nicole C. Woitowich, Geoffrey C. Hunt, Lutfiyya N. Muhammad, Jeanne Garbarino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The practice of science outreach is more necessary than ever. However, a disconnect exists between the stated goals for science outreach and its actual impact. In order to examine one potential source of this disconnect, we undertook a survey-based study to explore whether barriers to participation (either intrinsic or extrinsic) in science outreach exist within the academic community. We received responses to our survey from 530 individuals, the vast majority of whom engage in some type of science outreach activity on an annual basis. Those who engage in outreach report doing so for both personal and altruistic reasons, and having high (yet varied) levels of comfort with performing outreach activities. Respondents also report the existence of several significant yet surmountable barriers to participation, including lack of time and funding. Our findings demonstrate that both levels of participation in, and attitudes toward, science outreach within the academic community are generally favorable, suggesting that the general ineffectiveness of science outreach is due to other causes. We place our findings within the context of the broader science outreach, science communication and public engagement literature. We make recommendations on how existing approaches and infrastructure can, and must, be changed in order to improve the practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number907762
JournalFrontiers in Communication
StatePublished - Aug 24 2022


  • informal science education
  • public engagement with science
  • science communication
  • science outreach
  • survey study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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