COST Action CA15207

Professionalization and Social Impact of European Political Science

WG 3 Social impact, media visibility and participation of Political Science in the public sphere

WG3 held five working sessions at the Valletta Campus of the University of Malta on 26 January and 27 January  2017 during the ProSEPS meeting.


Discussion on the target population from the perspective of survey implementation

It is agreed within WG3 that the definition of the target population should respond to objective criteria, based on institutional membership (university departments, research organizations, think tanks, political science associations) and that the final decision on the organizations to be included should be left to national experts. However, the members of WG3 also consider that self-identification as political scientist should be taken into account in order to refine the final sample.


Theoretical debate on the social relevance of political science and political scientists

Social relevance is closely linked to other concepts, such as public visibility, and social prestige, though they do not refer to the same phenomena. Besides, these concepts seem to be also related to the degree of institutionalization and professionalization of political science. However, at this stage, WG3 agrees that there is need to further elaborate and clarify all these theoretical relationships. Such theoretical elaboration should also deal with the repertoire of activities that may bring the above mentioned outcomes, as well as with the contextual factors influencing their development.


Survey design

It is agreed among participants in WG3 that only one survey should be launched and that this should be translated into national languages. This increases the pressure on the short time span available to design and prepare the implementation of the survey. In this respect, the team in charge of the coordination of the survey should work with these pressures in mind, and also take the necessary measures to increase the credibility of the survey before potential respondents. A data utilization protocol should be also elaborated. Finally, despite the inherent limitations of the COST Actions there is need to study the possibility to use alternative research instruments in addition to the survey.


Questionnaire content

A number of variables were suggested:

  1. Basic information: name, gender, age, affiliation, field of research
  2. Professional academic activity questions (restricted to the last 5 years).
  3. Policy advice-related activity questions: WG4 should provide these questions.
  4. Other non-academic/research oriented activities

Sections 3) and 4) should also include questions about factors influencing participation in these activities – contextual (opportunities, difficulties) and motivations (incentives/norms). The determination of these contextual and motivational factors depends on previous theoretical elaboration.


Survey logistics

  1. Survey reminders: Experience with online surveys suggests sending the invitation to participate in the survey and, in case of no response, two reminders. This can be managed automatically by the online survey software.
  2. Ethical issues: there was some discussion in the group about whether collecting e-mail information from websites and then using this information to send the survey invitations could be considered as ‘spamming’. However, it is the opinion of the majority of the participants in WG3 that gathering public e-mail addresses and using them to send the invitations does not constitute malpractice, since these e-mail addresses are public and the survey does not have any commercial purpose.


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