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Title: Audience recognition : the determinants of academics' media impact
Author: Lu, Hsiao-Han
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 7558
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the media impact of academics, and in particular focuses on the conditions of research publication being covered in the news and the pathways that academics become media stars (celebrity). University actors are increasingly required to demonstrate research impact on society. The first chapter provides an overview of the changing landscape of the ‘broader impact’ and highlights the role of the media as an intermediary in delivering scientific research across the boundary between academia and the public. The second chapter provides an overview of the quantitative data in the two studies. Study 1 seeks to explain the role of research quality signals, as evidenced by journal prestige, in whether a press release is being picked up by the media. This study explores the tension between research quality and public resonance in explaining which academic publications are covered in the news. Results show how various dimensions of public resonance may strengthen or weaken the importance of research quality as a signal. Specifically, it finds that there is a substitution effect between the signal of research quality and the unexpectedness of the research content, and a complementarity effect between the research quality signal and contribution relevance of the research in explaining the media attention of academic articles. Study 2 explores the question of through what pathways do academics become celebrities in the media. The results show that academics who achieve ‘research’ celebrity status are discovered – based on the quality of their research – rather than manufactured, whereas academics who excel at commentary in the media tend to be manufactured rather than discovered. My findings also show that it is difficult for academics who excel in achieving one type of media coverage to switch to achieving the other type. Only academics who are both academically excellent and who actively push for media attention tend to become celebrities both in terms of research coverage and public commentary.
Supervisor: ter Wal, Anne ; Perkmann, Markus Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral