Internationally public engagement and communication has become an important aspect of research and policymaking, allowing research establishments, and their researchers, to explore public perspectives on their work as well as providing access to research findings to wider publics. Alongside this, a considerable research communication and public engagement community has emerged, who are interested not only in the design, techniques and methods for research communication and engagement but also approaches to communicate creatively and evaluate the impact of such work. Setting the scene for later chapters, this introduction discusses the evolution of science communication, public engagement and calls for a re-emergence public disciplines and intellectuals before critically unpacking what it means to be creative.
The chapter focuses on ethics from a broad perspective, considering two main approaches. Firstly, the chapter considers ethics from a communication and engagement standpoint, how to engage with participants ethically, incorporate informed consent procedures, consider any data that are collected, used and stored, give participants access to further information and follow any relevant ethical guidelines. Secondly, the chapter explores wider questions regarding the ethics of communication and participation. Is communication about research just about generating publicity? What new ethical questions are emerging with communication and engagement approaches? Does research communication need its own code of practice?
The chapter highlights not only why it is important to share best practice with the research communication community, but also how readers might further disseminate their work though approaches like reports, conferences, publication and professional networks. It considers the ‘conundrum’ of communicating about research communication or engaging about engagement. The chapter finishes with a short summary of the key points of the book and some final encouraging, motivational, and confidence building insights that will enable readers to make the best use of the approaches outlined.