TAKING ROOT: A GROUNDED APPROACH TO SCIENCE COMMUNICATION FOR SEALINK CURAÇAO
ABSTRACT Communicating research findings to a lay public comes with a range of challenges, as can be seen in the considerable literature on Science Communication (SC). Part of the issue is a lack of an empirically-based understanding of the communication context, such as audience characteristics or situational barriers. There is literature available on the necessary considerations for SC, but this is fragmented, with different authors mentioning different components and strategies. What is needed is a concrete grounded, empirically based approach to SC. This is the theoretical gap this research aims to fill, with a main research question of: What good practices can be identified for a grounded approach to science communication? First, a conceptual approach is composed based on components identified in existing literature. To illustrate the usefulness of such an approach, and to provide a methodological example, a case study is utilised. The case chosen here is the SEALINK project. SEALINK is an interdisciplinary research project studying the ways in which various inputs affect the growth and survival of reefs in the Dutch Caribbean. This case was chosen due to the lack of prior research on this topic both within the project and within the region. The novelty necessitated an in-depth empirical analysis, providing a comprehensive methodological example. Discussion of findings and theoretical implications lead to theoretical learning, ultimately answering the main research question. Methodologically, key findings include the value of interviewing individuals from multiple actor categories, and the value of conducting street interviews and some form of participant observation. Both allow for an enrichment of findings. Theoretically, it was found that the composed grounded approach seemed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the communication context. However, the sub-component ‘opportunities’ in the main component ‘situational factors’ requires further development, both theoretically and methodologically.