Information-Sharing and Community-Building: Exploring the Use of Twitter in Science Public Relations

Leona Yi Fan Su, Dietram A. Scheufele, Larry Bell, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social media have given rise to new opportunities for science organizations to communicate with the public. Building on theories of science communication and public relations, this study examined scientific institutions’ use of Twitter for one-way and two-way communication in connection with science festivals over the period 2012 to 2015, using NanoDays as a case study. It identified three communicative functions of tweets by organizations—information, participation, and community—with most tweets being informational and containing hyperlinks. Nevertheless, longitudinal analyses indicated that organizations have increasingly incorporated community-building practices such as hashtags. Findings help clarify how social media engender science communication paradigms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-597
Number of pages29
JournalScience Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • one-way communication
  • public relations
  • science communication
  • social media
  • two-way communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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