Evaluation: Stronger support needed for young researchers and career development

4 Apr 2013

Finnish media and communication research has been evaluated by an international panel. The panel notes that Finnish media and communication research is a very diverse and rich field with many perspectives and approaches. According to the panel, Finnish media and communication research units are of a high international standard and there are a number of internationally leading-edge Finnish researchers in the field. The evaluation covers twelve units from nine Finnish universities.

The focus of the evaluation is on the future development of the field. The evaluation is based on material collected in spring 2012, covering the years 2010–2011, and on interviews conducted by the panel in September 2012. The evaluation was commissioned by the Academy of Finland.

The panel notes that Finnish media and communication research is a highly diverse field in terms of its background, targets and methods, and that it includes very different fields of study. To clarify the boundaries of the field, the panel recommends that a project be launched on the history and structures of Finnish media and communication research. The diversity of the field should be taken better into account so that the research could be assessed in the right frame of reference.

Small fields have only limited resources and there is a risk that research is done by individual researchers only. Most of the research done by the evaluated units is dependent on external funding, and resources are spent on preparing funding applications instead of producing publications. External funding may also direct research; for instance, the impact of the funding from various foundations is seen on research themes and on the distribution of funding between units in different fields. The recent structural changes in the Finnish university system and the organisational changes of universities have also impacted communication research.

The panel further notes that internationality is an integral part of the research in most of the evaluated units and that Finnish researchers have extensive international networks. However, young researchers in particular have difficulties in mobility. Researchers should be increasingly encouraged to international mobility and active conference participation. The panel finds it important that international publishing be increased. International publishing would facilitate the publishing of research results on national forums and in national languages as well.

The panel also expresses concern about the situation of young researchers and doctoral students. In some of the evaluated units, the situation of doctoral students in particular is uncertain and unequal, depending on the funding source. National collaboration between doctoral programmes should be further promoted on the basis of the previous national graduate school system. The panel further recommends that strategic mentoring be strengthened to improve career planning, international mobility, publishing strategies and inclusion in the research community.

The evaluation report is part of the Academy of Finland publication series and is available as a PDF download at > Publication series.

More information:
Science Adviser Kaisa Vaahtera, tel. +358 29 533 5125, firstname.lastname(at)

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Manager Riitta Tirronen
tel. +358 29 533 5118

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