Who is listening? Profiles of policymaker engagement with scientific communication

Jessica Pugel, Elizabeth C. Long, Mary A. Fernandes, Katherine Cruz, Cagla Giray, D. Max Crowley, J. Taylor Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The evolving science around COVID-19 made timely digital communication with policymakers increasingly important for all constituencies. This holds true particularly for the scientific community, where evidence-informed policymaking can influence the effectiveness of public responses. In this context, understanding how to reach policymakers effectively and which policymakers are likely to engage with scientific information delivered through digital mediums is critical. This study provides a novel observational approach to understanding reach with policymakers through science email campaigns. Using a sample of nearly 3000 state policymakers, we assessed data from five digital messaging campaigns. Results indicate four profiles of legislators: those who rarely open and open slowly (Never Openers), those who only opened a couple of emails (Rare Openers), those who open quickly, but do not always open (Intermittent Openers), and those that consistently open quickly (Always Openers). Female legislators and legislators who had served for fewer terms were more likely to be Always Openers or Intermittent Openers, relative to male legislators and legislators who had served more terms. This study reveals patterns of email engagement and indicates science communication efforts may need to adopt more targeted strategies that better reach policymakers who tend to engage less frequently with emailed research content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-201
Number of pages16
JournalPolicy and Internet
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Administration
  • Health Policy
  • Computer Science Applications


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