Communications, outreach and citizen science: Spreading the word about invasive alien species

Eithne Davis*, Joe M. Caffrey, Neil E. Coughlan, Jaimie T.A. Dick, Frances E. Lucy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Outreach is an important element of scientific communication and a prescribed element of many projects, but few scientists have training in communications. This paper describes the outreach element of a project on invasive alien species. A communications plan was drawn up to streamline communications efforts, allowing us to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities to engage with the public, while still maintaining the desired focus, using minimal resources. Here, we use two simple metrics—“passive reach” and “interactions”—to measure the extent and the intensity of communications, and we also look at the advantages and limitations provided by different media. Broadcast media and social media have the capacity to reach a wide audience, but have a low percentage of interaction. Workshops and citizen science events tend to reach a much smaller audience, but generate greater levels of engagement. Understanding these dynamics is important in designing an effective communications plan, which uses the minimum number of resources to generate maximum impact. Building the credibility of the researcher or the project means that your research will reach a wider audience, and your message is more likely to have an impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-525
Number of pages11
JournalManagement of Biological Invasions
Issue number4
Early online date29 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been greatly enhanced by the comments of the two anonymous reviewers, and we are very grateful for their generous and considered advice. We would like to thank Colette O’Flynn and Barry O’Neill of the National Biodiversity Data Centre (Ireland) for their help and support in running the Winter Heliotrope Challenge. This project, The Prevention, Control and Eradication of Invasive Alien Species (2015-NC-MS-4), is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland), and is a collaboration between the Institute of Technology, Sligo, Queens University Belfast, and INVAS Biosecurity, Dublin. The authors would also like to acknowledge the kind support of the Marine Institute (Ireland) in the form of Researcher Travel Awards, which allowed this work to be presented at International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS), 2017. The publication of this article is supported by the Open Access Publishing Fund of the International Association for Open Knowledge on Invasive Alien Species (INVASIVESNET).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s) and 2018 REABIC.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Awareness
  • Ecology
  • Engagement
  • Science communciation
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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