Article

21/09/2020

This article seeks to address the lack of sociocultural diversity in the field of science communication by broadening conceptions of citizen science to include citizen social science. Developing citizen social science as a concept and set of practices can increase the diversity of publics who engage in science communication endeavors if citizen social science explicitly aims at addressing social justice issues. First, I situate citizen social science within the histories of citizen science and participatory action research to demonstrate how the three approaches are compatible. Next, I outline the tenets of citizen social science as they are informed by citizen science and participatory action research goals. I then use these tenets as criteria to evaluate the extent to which my case study, a community-based research project called ‘Rustbelt Theater’, counts as a citizen social science project.

07/09/2020

Inequalities in scientific knowledge are the subject of increasing attention, so how factual science knowledge is measured, and any inconsistencies in said measurement, is extremely relevant to the field of science communication. Different operationalizations of factual science knowledge are used interchangeably in research, potentially resulting in artificially comparable knowledge levels among respondents. Here, we present data from an experiment embedded in an online survey conducted in the United States (N = 1,530) that examined the distribution of factual science knowledge responses on a 3- vs. 5-point response scale. Though the scale did not impact a summative knowledge index, significant differences emerged when knowledge items were analyzed individually or grouped based on whether the correct response was “true” or “false.” Our findings emphasize the necessity for communicators to consider the goals of knowledge assessment when making operationalization decisions.

17/08/2020

Expert debates have become a popular form to inform the public about scientific issues. To deepen our knowledge about individuals who attend such formats and to investigate what they expect of the dissemination of science, this study analyzes the attendants of scientific expert debates and their expectations. Cluster analysis is applied to survey data (n=358) to explore whether distinct segments may be distinguishable within this supposedly homogeneous audience. Four different segments were identified and, overall, the findings indicate that attendants expect science communication to not only present scientific findings comprehensibly and from different perspectives, but also to create everyday life applicability, whereas interacting with scientists is of less interest.

08/07/2020

Despite Australian horse owners being encouraged to vaccinate their horses against Hendra virus to reduce the risk of this potentially fatal virus to horses and humans, vaccine uptake has been slow. Discourse around the vaccine has been characterised by polarisation and dissenting voices. In this study we interviewed horse owners (N=15) and veterinarians (N=10), revealing how expert knowledge, disqualification of lay knowledge and inadequate handling of uncertainty impacted divisive discourse around Hendra virus. We assert that more inclusive, reflective and ultimately more effective risk communication practices will result if the legitimacy of diverse knowledge sources and the inevitability of uncertainty are acknowledged.

08/06/2020

The years of the protests marked a period of social turmoil in Italy. The critical impulses that developed within worker and student groups had political effects even on science. This paper aims to offer a historiographical description of some stages of the relationship between scientists and protesting movements, going back over the developments in science communication in Italy between the late sixties and the seventies, focusing on the case of Lucio Lombardo Radice and his work as a TV populariser. The reinterpretation of the recent past could be useful to better understand the contemporary developments in science communication from a historical perspective.

01/06/2020

This article provides a framework for analysing changes and continuities in science communication. The field is challenged by three contexts: (1) ‘post-normal situations’ of coping with uncertainties, value questions, an urgency to take action, and associated political pressures; (2) a dramatically changing media environment, and (3) a polarizing discourse culture. We refine the concept of post-normal science to make it more applicable to analyse public science communication in an era of digital media networks. Focussing on changes in the interactions between scientists and journalists, we identify two ideal types: normal and post-normal science communication, and conclude that the boundaries of science and journalism are blurring and under renegotiation. Scientists and journalists develop new shared role models, norms, and practices. Both groups are increasingly acting as advocates for common goods that emphasize the emerging norms of post-normal science communication: transparency, interpretation, advocacy and participation.

18/05/2020

This theoretical paper proposes a framework for how citizen science can be adapted to organizational contexts. Using an “input, process, output” approach, this model proposes organizational factors (e.g., communication channels and styles, and organizational structure) that should be considered when choosing among citizen science approaches (e.g., contributory, collaborative, co-created). The essay identifies possible outcomes for the individual, organization, and larger sector from employing a citizen science approach within an organizational setting.

14/04/2020

Blogs provide potential for publics to engage more deliberatively through dialogue in controversial science than one-way dissemination methods. This study investigated who was commenting on two antithetical climate change blogsites; how they were commenting; and the quality of their dialogue. Most research into science blogs has focused on bloggers rather than commenters. This study found that both blogsites were dominated by a small number of commenters who used contractive dialogue to promote their own views to like-minded commenters. Such blogsites are consolidating their own polarised publics rather than deliberately engaging them in climate change science.

06/04/2020

Verbal probability phrases are often used in science communication to express estimated risks in words instead of numbers. In this study we look at how laypeople and statisticians interpret Dutch probability phrases that are regularly used in news articles. We found that there is a large variability in interpretations, even if the phrases are given in a neutral context. Also, statisticians do not agree on the interpretation of the phrases. We conclude that science communicators should be careful in using verbal probability expressions.

30/03/2020

How a discipline's history is written shapes its identity. Accordingly, science communicators opposed to cultural exclusion may seek cross-cultural conceptualizations of science communication's past, beyond familiar narratives centred on the recent West. Here I make a case for thinking about science communication history in these broader geotemporal terms. I discuss works by historians and knowledge keepers from the Indigenous Australian Yorta Yorta Nation who describe a geological event their ancestors witnessed 30,000 ybp and communicated about over generations to the present. This is likely one of the oldest examples of science communication, warranting a prominent place in science communication histories.

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