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What is the difference between communication and dissemination?

In European research and innovation projects, especially Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020, the dissemination and communication of results is mandatory. According to article 17 of the Horizon Europe grant agreement and article 29.1 of the Horizon 2020 grant agreement, each beneficiary has the obligation to disseminate results by disclosing them to the public by appropriate means including scientific publications. Although this document of reference only talks about dissemination, others talk about dissemination and communication, such as the Social media guide for EU funded R&D projects recently published by the European Commission. The document gives some basic insights but let’s try to go a bit deeper.

So what is the difference between communication and dissemination?

Dissemination is making sure the projects results are available to the scientific community, policy makers and industry – using scientific language prioritizing accuracy. Communication activities, on the other hand, can be thought of as increasing the public visibility of the project and its results using accessible language. This could include aiming for coverage in TV, radio, print and online media.

A detailed guide has recently been published by the IPR Helpdesk.


ObjectivesPublic disclosure of resultsPromotion of the project and its results
AudienceTarget groups, such as scientific communities, industry stakeholders, policy-makers, etc.General public, including EU citizens, civil society and mass media
LanguageScientific languageNon-specialised language
ChannelsPeer-review journals, scientific conferences, online repository of results, etc.TV channels, radio, newspapers, generalist website, newsletters, etc.

The distinction between the two is particularly important nowadays as the European Commission and its evaluators want to make sure beneficiaries know the difference as they are two quite different types of activities. Knowing the difference and showing it will also make for a stronger proposal, reinforce the position of the responsible partner and demonstrate its expertise in the field.

Here is a list of various types of activities and channels classified according to the criteria mentioned before.

In Detail

 Communication ActivitiesDissemination ActivitiesCommunication ChannelsDissemination Channels
PublicationsNon scientific PublicationsScientific publicationsPress release, Newsletter, News sites articles, BlogsArticles in scientific magazines and blogs
EventsEvents for the general publicStakeholders eventsOpen Doors, Public talksMarket showcaseB2B networking
OnlineOnline promotionOnline disclosure of resultsGeneralist website, Social mediaOnline repository of results, Social media
MeetingsTwo-way exchanges with citizensStakeholders engagementCitizens Blog and Prizes, Photo contest, Surveys, InterviewsFeedback sessions, Industrial events, Training sessions
MediaMass media campaignPresentations in scientific conferencesNewspapers, Local TVs, RadiosScientific conferences, workshops and seminars
MaterialsPromotional materialConferences proceedingsLeafletBrochurePosterPublication of proceedings

In Brief!


  • Creates public awareness and enhances the visibility of your project results, consortium and the research programme
  • Encourages people to use the results, increasing the chances your research will make an impact. (You may have the best idea but if nobody knows about it, nobody is going to use it and it can’t serve anyone.)
  • Can create immediate, short/medium term commercial impact


  • Targeted at specific audiences in the research community, industrial sector, stakeholders, potential investors and future B2B customers
  • Facilitates scientific reuse of the results
  • Creates long term scientific and commercial impact

What about the impact?

As you can imagine, the impact of a project is strongly dependent on the communication and dissemination. Good communication and dissemination increases the impact as it leads to a larger use by people, industries, partners, and scientists. The commercial impact of the project is crucial to ensure the long-term sustainability of the research & innovation activities, which is highly valued.