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RSU doctoral student Justīne Vīķe

Doctoral study programme: Sociology

Thesis title: Zinātnieku un komersantu iesaiste izgudrojumu komercializēšanā Latvijā, izmantojot zinātnes komunikācijas instrumentus

Scientific supervisors: Acting Assist. Prof. Anda Laķe un doc. Ivans Jānis Mihailovs

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WHO?

"People are what matters to me – both in life and the study process. While doing my doctoral studies, I experienced enormous support from my family, colleagues and from the supervisors of my doctoral thesis, and I can say with certainty that the contacts and acquaintances I have made are the most valuable assets of my involvement in this experience.

I get carried away by everything already explored and innovative – science is what fascinates me. I also believe that academic work, definitely, is my true calling. At present within the study course Management of Knowledge and Innovations I teach students at Rīga Stradiņš University how to develop creative thinking."

WHAT?

"My research is based on the ways and means of how science can serve society or how the process of the university’s third mission is implemented in Latvia. The first two missions of a university are to provide education and research, whereas the third focuses on the transfer of knowledge and technology to the community. Thus, my doctoral thesis is devoted to research sociology, technology transfer and science communication.

The study of the sociology of research, if one may put it that way, is a science about science. Science as a social activity, its capability to be reproduced and the process of the forming of scientific communities. The core subject matter of my thesis is technology transfer – a process which enables the transfer of knowledge created within the university to entrepreneurs.

At this stage, I have described science communication only from a theoretical perspective. The relationship between scientists and society, among them industry representatives, has considerably changed over the years, considering that until the 19th century scientists enjoyed a favoured position and were free to decide how and when to communicate with society and whether to engage in such practice at all. In the 20th – 21st century this relationship between science and society has changed substantially. Contemporary researchers need to make their research findings accessible to the public and, among other things, have to understand public desires and needs for solving diverse issues, for if a scientist remains silent about his findings, no one will ever know of his discoveries or accomplishments. Nowadays researchers also have to work on their PR.

The present focus is upon means and tools for ensuring the process of science communication. I intend to devote my further research to functional science communication tools in Latvia from long-term perspective, singling out those which provide for easy and effective application, given that not all researchers are good communicators, are too keen on social media or excited about giving a public presentation on their scientific work."

RSU 3rd year doctoral student in sociology Justīne Vīķe reflects on the study process at RSU: "Rīga Stradiņš University provides the safety and necessary support to doctoral students, breaking previous scientific presumptions and dogmas."

WHY?

"The global economy of today demands access to knowledge. Researchers are urged to incorporate the desires and interests of manufacturers into their practical research. Moreover, communication with the public has become a researcher’s duty. These are very topical issues in society today.

I first learned about science communication when I started to work upon my master’s thesis under the RSU study programme Strategic and Public Relations Management which dealt with factors affecting commercialisation of results of scientific research in Latvia. Back then the scientific supervisor of my doctoral thesis Ivans Jānis Mihailovs advised me to draw attention to the concept of science communication.

The work at the RSU Technology Transfer Office where we had to take on the role of negotiators between researchers and entrepreneurs, interpreting the needs of both parties and looking for collaboration possibilities, further enhanced my interest about technology transfer and science communication.

I am pleased that everyone has an opinion about the subject matter of my thesis; it stirs much discussion, particularly at scientific conferences. Any discourse on science communication now and again pushes scientists out of the customary comfort zone, making them realize that they have not undertaken all the duties of a researcher – the findings of their research have not been transferred to the public for use. There is a very good saying which goes like this: research is not finished while the results remain untold. Cooperation between scientists and manufacturers deserves proper attention as well."

HOW?

"The main aim of my study is to identify factors affecting the involvement of researchers and entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of scientific inventions in Latvia and to develop a theoretical cooperation platform for researchers and entrepreneurs which would contain information about the findings and expertise of scientific institutions. My greatest sense of accomplishment definitely would be if this model were to be implemented at a national level.

I have interviewed the representatives of Latvia’s technology transfer offices and, to identify science communication problem issues and possible solutions, I am looking forward to also interviewing innovation policy makers, entrepreneurs and researchers."

CONCLUSIONS

"Given that the study is not completed yet, it is too early to talk about conclusions. Nevertheless, there is one thing I am sure of – the solutions provided by science are open-ended and each answer raises ten new questions."