May 22, 2022

Research Article: “Science Podcasts: Analysis of Global Production and Output From 2004 to 2018” (Preprint)

The following preprint was recently made available on bioRxiv.


Science Podcasts: Analysis of Global Production and Output From 2004 to 2018


Dr. Lewis E. MacKenzie
Durham University, UK


via bioRxiv
April 10, 2018
DOI: 10.1101/298356


Since the mid-2000s, podcasts have emerged as a new and fundamentally decentralised global medium for science communication, with hundreds of podcasts freely disseminating scientific information worldwide. However, despite widespread interest in the benefits of podcasts for teaching, there have been no studies of how science podcasts are being used to communicate to the global public. Considering the popularity of science podcasts, this represents a large and fundamental gap into how science is being communicated to the public. This study identified and analyses 952 publicly available English language science podcasts. Categorisation and analysis was performed by analysis of textual and graphic data from the iTunes podcast directory and other websites used to promoted podcasts. All work was conducted between the 5th January and 5th February 2018. All data generated by this study is freely available to the public as a supplementary dataset. The total number of science podcasts was found to have grown linearly between 2004 and 2010, but between 2010 and 2018 the number of science podcast has grown exponentially. 38% of science podcasts were created by independent producers, but the majority (62%) were produced by various affiliated organisations. Most science podcasts (65%) were hosted by scientists and the majority of science podcasts (77%) were targeted to public audiences. “General Science” was the most common topic for science podcasts, but a diverse range of topics was covered. Notably, chemistry appears to be under-represented compared to physics and biology podcasts. The USA and UK dominate English-language science podcasts, producing 57% and 17% of the science podcasts surveyed. Only 24% of podcasts had overt supplementary income. This suggests many science podcasts were being produced independently by scientists with no financial support. Science podcasts could be separated into “short lifespan” (< 1 year) and "long lifespan" podcasts (> 1 year). Podcasts affiliated with an organisation had a reduced “short lifespan” and a greater “long lifespan” when compared with independently produced podcasts. This study provides a fundamentally new snapshot of how science podcasts are being used to directly communicate science with global public audiences in 2018.

Direct to Full Text
23 pages; PDF.

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Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.