Special issue call for papers from Journal of Communication Management

Communicating Science in Organizational Contexts: Towards an “Organizational Turn” in Science Communication Research


Deadline for full papers : Jun 1, 2019


Science is central for contemporary knowledge societies. Scientific results and science-based technological innovations are crucial to address societal challenges. Accordingly, science communication – the public communication about science, its findings, methods and processes (cf. Davies & Horst 2016) – has become more important in recent years (e.g. Hall Jamieson et al. 2017; Schäfer 2012). Science communication has also gained importance in organizational contexts. Scientific and higher education organizations have expanded and professionalized their strategic communication efforts with regard to media relations (e.g. Bauer & Gregory 2008), to brand building and reputation management (e.g. Chapleo et al. 2011) etc. The growing public and political attention towards universities poses new challenges for organizational legitimacy, not only but also in the context of organizational crises (Fähnrich, Janssen Danyi & Nothhaft, 2015). These developments have resulted in an active and growing community of science communication practitioners, the emergence of professional associations and the appearance of specialized study programs etc. (Gascoigne etal. 2010; Trench 2017). Organizations such as companies, political parties, think tanks or NGOs increasingly communicate about science as well (e.g. Fähnrich 2018a). They may use science-related information in advertising to promote new products, refer to experts to justify political decisions, use scientific expertise to appear trustworthy in the eyes of stakeholders or emphasize their use of the latest scientific and technological developments to create a favorable public image. They may also publicly question science, point towards conflicting evidence, highlight potential risks or even promote misinformation, pseudo- or anti-science. In spite of these pervasive trends, however, the communication of science in organizational contexts has not receivedmuch scholarly attention yet. Neither have many scholars from the field of communication management and strategic communication taken up the issue of science (cf. Fähnrich 2018b) nor has the growing field of science communication paid much attention to the role of organizations yet (cf. Horst 2013). This special issue on "Communicating Science in Organizational Contexts" will contribute to closing this gap. It invites contributions from scholars of communication management, strategic communication, organizational communication and organizational sociology, as well as from science communication, science and technology studies, the sociology of science and other related fields and disciplines. In doing so, it brings together researchers that have not had many interchanges in the past in order to develop a comprehensive perspective on the organizational (meso) level of science communication.

Potential Topics

We invite scholars to submit research papers – welcoming both theoretical/conceptual work as well as empirical analyses – on a variety of aspects:1.    analyses of the (strategic) communication of organizations from science and higher education, such as universities, research institutes etc. These analyses may focus on public/media/stakeholder relations, public affairs management, crisis communication, reputation management, marketing or branding. They may concentrate on organizational communication strategies, on the institutional embedding of strategic communication within these organizations, the involved actors, communication formats, media and content, as well as on the use of this communication among different target groups and its effects. 2.    analyses of the communication of non-scientific organizations (e.g. political parties, corporations, NGOs, think tanks etc.) on science-related issues, e.g. regarding health and nutrition, sustainability and environmental issues etc. They may also include organizations promoting science denial or anti- and pseudo-science. Again, such analyses could focus on these organizations' communication strategies, the organizational embedding of science-related communication, the chosen formats and media, the involved actors, or on the use of such communication among different target groups and its effects. 3.    public communication about science with an organizational focus. This includes, e.g., analyses focusing on the role of organizations in public/media/online discourses on science-related issues, analyses of public communication efforts by members of such organizations (such as individual scientists), or analyses of the public perception of/trust in organizations in the field of science communication. 4.    the importance and role of the organizational mediators of science communication. Such analyses may focus on 'traditional' mediators like news/legacy media organizations, but also on 'new' intermediaries like scientific publishing houses and libraries, social media platforms, or search engines. 5.    contributions developing theoretical and/or normative frameworks for the analysis and evaluation of science communication in organizational contexts, e.g. focusing on professional and/or regulatory frameworks, or on ethical reflections and concerns.The CfP welcomes papers focusing on one or more of these topics, but also on other aspects if they are related to the overall rationale of the special issue. Authors are requested to ensure the originality of their contributions, and to outline implications for research and practice.


•    Deadline for full papers                         Jun 1, 2019 
•    Reviews of full papers provided        Aug 1, 2019
•    Deadline for revised submissions         Oct 15, 2019
•    Second round of reviews provided        Dec 15, 2019
•    Final versions due                                 Feb 30, 2020
•    Papers transferred to production          Mar 30, 2020

Submission Guidelines for Quick Reference

•    Text length should be 6,000-8,000 words including references
•    A structured abstract with 4-7 sub-headings is required
•    Please use Harvard citation style (for in-text citations, references, figures, tables)
•    More detailed Emerald publishing guidelines for authors:
•    Manuscripts should be submitted under 

Full papers will receive one double-blind external expert review as well as one review by the guest editors. A maximum of 8 articles will be published in JCM Volume 24, Issue 3 in July 2020.

Questions should be directed to the Guest Editors

Prof. Dr. Mike S. Schäfer, University of Zurich, Dept. of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ), 
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Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.">Dr. Birte Fähnrich, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Interdisciplinary Research Group “Science Communication” & Zeppelin University, Center for Political Communication, Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.">Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Bauer, M. W., & Gregory, J. (2008). From journalism to corporate communication in postwar Britain. In M. W. Bauer, & M. Bucchi (Hrsg.), Journalism, Science and Society. New York: Routledge. 33–52.
Chapleo, C., Carrillo Durán, M. V., & Castillo Díaz, A. (2011). Do UK universities communicate their brands effectively through their websites? Journal of Marketing for Higher Education 21(1), 25–46. 
Davies, S.R. & Horst, M. (2016). Science Communication: Culture, Identity and Citizenship, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Fähnrich, B. (2018a). Digging deeper? Muddling through? How environmental activists makesense and use of science – an exploratory study. Journal of Science Communication. 17(3), DOI https://doi.org/10.22323/2.17030208
Fähnrich, B. (2018b). Einflussreich aber wenig beachtet? – Ergebnisse einer Meta-Studie zum Stand der deutschsprachigen Forschung zur strategischen Kommunikation von Wissenschaftsorganisationen. Publizistik. 63(3), 407-426.
Fähnrich, B., Janssen Danyi, C., Nothhaft, H. (2015). The German plagiarism crisis: Defending and explaining the workings of scholarship on the front stage. Journal of Communication Management 19(1), 2015, pp. 20-38.
Gascoigne, T., Cheng, D., Claessens, M., Metcalfe, J., Schiele, B., & Shi, S. (2010). Is science communication its own field? Journal of Science Communication, 9(3), 1–6.
Hall Jamieson, K. H., Kahan, D., & Scheufele, D. A. (Eds.). (2017). The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication. Oxford University Press.
Horst, M. (2013). A Field of Expertise, the Organization, or Science Itself? Scientists’ Perception of Representing Research inPublic Communication. Science Communication, 35(6), 758-779. 
Schäfer, M. S. (2012). Taking stock: A meta-analysis of studies on the media’s coverage of science. Public Understanding of Science, 21(6), 650-663.
Trench, B. (2017). Universities, science communication and professionalism. Journal of Science Communication, 16(5), DOI https://doi.org/10.22323/2.16050302

About the journal

The Journal of Communication Management (JCOM) is the definitive international journal for research-oriented communication managers and professionals as well as for researchers who aim to develop or challenge practice. JCOM seeks to share knowledge between those who study communication management and those who practice it by publishing theoretical and empirical research. Articles are closely linked to strategic communication, public relations, organizational communication, corporate communication and related fields. 
JCOM is a formal partner of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA), and the preferred publishing partner of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).
JCOM is valuable source of knowledge for the following people: Academics and researchers in public relations, strategic communication, corporate communication, organizational communication, media studies and journalism; Communications directors; Directors and heads of public relations; Heads of public affairs; Heads of internal communication; Internal and external marketing managers; Managing directors and CEOs; Change managers; Brand managers; Knowledge managers; Strategic planners; Communication consultants; and MBA students.