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Research Studies

Research reports summarize the results of research studies conducted on the impacts of informal science education efforts on both public audiences and museum professionals.

The NISE Network has conducted several multi-year research projects looking at different aspects of the Network that have the potential to inform the field of informal science education. Whereas the evaluation studies conducted by the NISE Network measure progress toward NISE Net goals, the research studies are designed to generate findings that will inform and advance the broader field of informal science education. Below is a description of these projects. For more details, contact members of the research team. 

These research projects include:

  • Museum-Scientist Partnerships Research Project

  • Organizational Change Research Project

  • Public Learning and Decision Making Research Project

  • Tracking NISE Net’s Real World Impact Research Project

Research Projects

1. Museum-Scientist Partnerships Research Project

This project examined the nature and impacts of the development of partnerships between informal science institutions and practicing scientists.  We are interested in learning how museum-scientist partnerships create useful and meaningful representations of complex and cutting-edge scientific and socioscientific concepts; how these representations underpin the development of informal education materials, experiences and approaches that are used by museum exhibit designers and program staff; and how new products and practices resulting from museum-scientist partnerships are used in supporting and expanding the NISE Network. A case study follows the formation of the Nano & Society partnership between museum educators and scientists through its inception to the four regional workshops given on the topic. Another study, the network analysis of survey data, provides insightful information about connections between organizations within the NISE Network.


2. Organizational Change Research Project

This study examined whether and how organizations affiliated with NISE Net experience widespread and long-lasting change in their practices. Previous studies from formal education and other fields have shown that networks can serve as a powerful impetus for change as they enable the introduction of new practices and ideas into an organization through frequent interactions with other similar organizations. This study looked at partners and explores the conditions that facilitate or impede the adoption of NISE Net-related knowledge and practices within these organizations.

3. Public Learning and Decision Making Research Project

This project focused on exploring the different ways NISE Net can engage visitors in learning and decision making about nano. This project studied how visitors use, interact with, and talk about the different exhibit components within the Nano mini-exhibition to learn about the different areas of the NISE Network content map. In particular, the team will research how visitors’ understandings of relevance, or connection to their lives, develops within the exhibition.

4. Tracking NISE Net’s Real World Impact Research Project


This project examined media coverage and online discourses about nanotechnology, with a particular focus on NISE Network-related work, through tracking media content, blog posts, and discussions on various social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and Twitter). We used combinations of commercial software packages, including Lexis Nexis, Vantage Point, and Crimson Hexagon, to track large amounts of communication offline and online in a real time fashion.

First, we tracked the volume of coverage in traditional media channels and discussions on various online platforms. Second, we monitored genuine and spontaneous responses on nanotechnology-related topics among concerned publics in online environments. This project tracked sentiment, expressed with different levels of certitude, and thematic content such as risk-benefit assessment, of nanotechnology-related topics, especially NISE Network activities. Third, we examined the relationship between NISE Network events across different regional sites and the traffic of relevant discussions on both traditional and online media channels. For instance, this project will track online traffic surrounding particular sites before and after events such as NanoDays or other NISE Network coordinated activities, and explore the relationship between the tracked traffic and the corresponding geographical origins of online discussion (such as Tweets).


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