Accepted paper:

Rethinking openness in science: systemic implications of reintermediation replacing mechanisms of transparency


Alexander Gerber (Rhine-Waal University INSCICO)

Paper short abstract:

This paper introduces the new model of "Reintermediation" in Science Communication, replacing traditional "gatekeeping" in a more systemic context of RRI. New 'pseudo-intermediaries', cultivated by institutionalised science, redefine issues of openness, transparency, and accountability of science.

Paper long abstract:

This paper suggests introducing a new theoretical model of "Reintermediation" in Science Communication -- the structural loss of journalists as intermediaries in the knowledge-transfer processes, and their replacement by pseudo-intermediaries. As business practice and economics research have shown, the expected Disintermediation actually didn't happen but rather led to different forms of Reintermediation. If we can expect this to also happen to science (communication), both the challenges and the potential solutions for what we used to call "science communication" will need to be reconsidered fundamentally.

The traditional roles of gatekeepers in science communication are increasingly rendered redundant due to disruptive changes in information behavior and thus media-economic pressures. From a systemic perspective, Reintermediation raises urgent questions in the context of "Responsible Research and Innovation" (RRI), particularly since the new pseudo-intermediaries are often funded and cultivated by institutionalised science itself, and constitute a danger and/or an opportunity for openness / transparency / accountability etc. in science.

The suggested paper will refer to big data and scientometric studies such as the first full-text content analysis of every science press release ever published digitally in German academia (ca. half a million releases in total).

The idea of Reintermediation in Science Communication was first introduced by the proposing author in a keynote to the European Science Journalism Conference 2017 (Copenhagen / DK). The theoretical model is yet unpublished.

Alexander Gerber is Chair of Science Communication at RWU. The author is Project Lead or Work Package Leader in four Horizon 2020 projects on RRI.

panel D03
Contested gates -- epistemic and social implications of opening knowledge production and science communication