Article

24/09/2013

For lay people, mass media are the main source of scientific information; that is why science journalists’ selection and depiction of scientific issues is an important field to study. This paper investigates science journalists’ general issue selection and additionally focuses on science journalists’ depiction of nanoscale science and technology and its related scientific evidence (certainty/uncertainty of research findings). Face-to-face interviews with science journalists (n = 21) from different German media channels were conducted. The results show that the professional role conception, personal interest, news factors and organizational processes mainly influence the selection of science journalists. Overall, journalists have increasingly positive attitudes towards nanoscale science and technology. But results indicate that the coverage of scientific evidence differs according to the science journalists’ focus on beneficial or risky aspects of this emerging technology: journalists stress scientific uncertainty predominantly when discussing the risks of nanoscale science and technology.

24/06/2013

The explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant highlighted serious social concerns about risk communications; the public found it difficult to take preventive actions based on scientific information of radioactive fallout. We investigated public perception of the risks from low dose radiation and the role of information providers through the Internet survey focusing on parents in four Japanese regional groups. Mothers felt more anxious than fathers in Fukushima but not in further groups, and that the furthest group felt the most ambiguous anxiety. Their anxiety derived from distrust of the government and uncertainty about scientific information, rather than the lack of knowledge although risk communication emphasized learning the scientific mechanism. The mediators should provide more information for individual decision-making of day-to-day risk management in regions with different levels of radiological contamination; key issues include improving parents’ perceived control to their lives and easing their tension of responsibility to children’s health.

12/06/2013

This study assesses the correlation between reports on food risk published in scientific journals and in the printed mass media and changes in the meat market. It focuses on the case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United Kingdom. The findings suggest that during the time BSE and its related human disease were of noticeable public concern, there was a predominantly negative correlation between the number of reports on BSE published in the British printed mass media and meat market variables. In contrast, reports of scientific research on the disease contributed to reducing the perception of food risk because these numbers correlated positively with the meat market.

20/05/2013

Agriculture has adopted many scientific innovations that have improved productivity. The majority of innovations in agriculture have been communicated to end users through a simple diffusion and dissemination model. However, as the science underpinning the innovations becomes more complex, research and development organizations need to look at better ways to communicate their innovation to end users. This paper examines innovations in the beef industry in Australia and investigates how complex innovations are being communicated and identifies the nature and level of communication with end users and the role of intermediaries. The findings support the need for greater involvement of end users in the innovation development process and a more vibrant two-way communication process between scientists, intermediaries and end users. The results also suggest that the traditional diffusion processes are insufficient to ensure high levels of awareness and adoption.

21/03/2013

Communicating science to scientists works well thanks to well-defined communication structures based on both printed material in peer-reviewed publications   and oral presentations, e.g.\ at conferences and seminars. However, when science is communicated to practitioners, the structures become fuzzy. We are   looking at how to implement Web2.0 technologies to Danish seed scientists communicating to seed consultants, agricultural advisors, and seed growers, and  we are met with the challenge of securing effective knowledge diffusion to the community. Our investigation's focal point is on Rogers' theoretical framework  ``Diffusion of Innovation'' (DOI), as we look at how DOI may affect the Danish seed industry if science communication is redesigned in accordance with the  framework. During our project workshop, participants recognized trends and characteristics from DOI in the Danish seed community and argued for more  collaboration between scientists and practitioners. This can be done by implementing fast-learning via online website, but it needs to be assisted by   slower-paced face-to-face learning to lessen the risk of a digital knowledge divide within the community.

27/02/2013

Spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) is a popular form of treatment for back pain among other musculoskeletal disorders, and it has received increasing media attention. Yet, despite its popularity, SMT is surrounded by controversy, mainly in regards to issues of safety and efficacy. To better understand how the media portrays SMT, we explored the content of print newspapers in Canada, the U.S., and U.K., including article framing, evidence of efficacy, risks and benefits, and the overall tone of the article in terms of whether or not the article was supporting, opposing or neutral about SMT. Results indicate that safety concerns and evidence for efficacy are rarely mentioned, but framing plays a large role in portrayals of SMT in each of the countries.

28/01/2013

Various science events including Science Cafés have been held in Japan. However, there is the question whether these are events in which all people in society can participate? In particular, methods for checking whether or not the event attracts the participants targeted by the organizers have not yet been well established. In this paper, the authors have designed a simplified questionnaire to identify the participants’ attitudes toward science, technology and society, which can then be grouped into four clusters. When applied to various science cafés, the results revealed that participants consisted of Cluster 1 “Inquisitive  type” and Cluster 2 “Sciencephile” who are interested in science and technology. The cafes studied did not provide sufficient appeal to people of Clusters 3 and  4 who are not interested in science and technology without applying some inventive methods. Our method provides a means of objectivelyevaluating the tendencies of participants in science communication events in order to improve the spread of science communications within society.

17/12/2012

Rapid and significant developments in the science of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) have provoked serious social and ethical concerns as well as positive influences worldwide. This study created a social agenda containing 21 important issues regarding the relationship between ASDs and society and the development of the science of ASDs. The agenda was constructed with the input of a variety of Japanese people who were provided with scientific ASD information and engaged in discussions regarding ASDs. First, opinions were sought via a questionnaire from the attendees of six science café sessions. Then, additional important issues were put forward by attendees of a larger dialogue session regarding the relationship between ASDs and society, again via a questionnaire. The agenda covered a wide range of issues, including information regarding ASDs, people’s understanding of ASDs, social support, education, the difference between ASD characteristics and individuality, ASD research, diagnosis, and social attitudes.

27/11/2012

Engaging the public on emerging science technologies has often presented challenges. People may hold notions that science is too complicated for them to understand and the venues at which science is discussed are formal and perceived as  inaccessible. One approach to address these challenges is through the Science Café, or Café Scientifique. We conducted five Science Cafés across Canada  to gauge public awareness of synthetic biology technology, its potential applications, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the Science Café platform as a  knowledge-translation tool. Café participants were excited about the potential benefits of synthetic biology technology, but also concerned about the potential  risks. And while participants trusted scientists to carry out their research, there was limited confidence that regulators would ensure public safety. Science  Cafés as a forum for science to meet society were viewed positively for the relaxed atmosphere, small crowd size and informality of the venue. We conclude  that Science Cafés are an effective upstream engagement platform for discussing emerging science technologies.

13/11/2012

This paper investigated the potential of the Public Internet Terminal (PIT) system to promote basic health education for two rural communities in the North West Province of South Africa. A case study approach was used. Participants were selected from a population group of teachers, nurses, business people and  students in the two communities. Observation, group interviews and questionnaire were used to gather evidence from the participants regarding their  operational difficulties, social/economic difficulties and perceived usefulness of using the PIT system for basic health education. The findings revealed that a high number of participants could not operate the PIT system to search for relevant health information. Participants cited reasons of information overload and slow response of the PIT system. Further findings revealed that many participants lack awareness of the PIT services in these post offices. Participants  indicated that the PIT system lacks local content specific information such as healthcare information on vaccination, personal hygiene, nutrition and pharmacies around their vicinities. The results from this study led to the recommendations which emphasized the incorporation of basic e-health education portal into the existing services on the PIT system and proposed a new user interface for the PIT.

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