As science communication programs grow worldwide, effective evaluation and assessment metrics lag. While there is no consensus on evaluation protocols specifically for science communication training, there is agreement on elements of effective training: listening, empathy, and knowing your audience — core tenets of improvisation. We designed an evaluation protocol, tested over three years, based on validated and newly developed scales for an improvisation-based communication training at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Initial results suggest that ‘knowing your audience’ should apply to training providers as they design and evaluate their curriculum, and gender may be a key influence on outcomes.


Science communication is proliferating in the developing world, however, with respect to science centres, as a whole Africa is being left behind. Here 15 participants in a capacity building program are investigated using traditional needs-based and contemporary asset-based development conceptualisations. These development theories parallel deficit and participatory approaches, respectively, within science communication and demonstrate synergies between the fields. Data showed staffing, funding, governments, host institutions, and audiences are prominent needs and assets, networks are a major asset, and identified other influential factors. Analysis suggests a coordinated model involving individuals, host institutions and governments to facilitate growth of African science centres.


The goal of Science Cafés and Science on Taps is to encourage open discourse between scientists and the public in a casual setting (e.g., a bar) in order to improve the public understanding of, and trust in, science. These events have existed for over two decades, but there is no research studying their efficacy. Data presented here demonstrate that a yearlong Science on Tap series induced little change among the attendees with respect to attitudes, emotions, and knowledge about the nature of science. Ultimately, we found this event may be preaching to the choir rather than changing hearts and minds.


Science communication research is dominated by Western countries. While their research provides insight into best practices, their findings cannot be generalized to developing countries. This study examined the science communication challenges encountered by scientists and science communicators from Manila, Philippines through an online survey and semi-structured, investigative interviews. Their answers revealed issues which have been echoed in other international studies. However, challenges of accessibility and local attitudes to science were magnified within the Philippine context. These results indicate the ubiquity of certain challenges in science communication and the need for country-specific science communication frameworks. Further research on the identified challenges is needed on a local and global scale.


As the digital revolution continues and our lives become increasingly governed by smart technologies, there is a rising need for reflection and critical debate about where we are, where we are headed, and where we want to be. Against this background, the paper suggests that one way to foster such discussion is by engaging with the world of fiction, with imaginative stories that explore the spaces, places, and politics of alternative realities. Hence, after a concise discussion of the concept of speculative fiction, we introduce the notion of datafictions as an umbrella term for speculative stories that deal with the datafication of society in both imaginative and imaginable ways. We then outline and briefly discuss fifteen datafictions subdivided into five main categories: surveillance; social sorting; prediction; advertising and corporate power; hubris, breakdown, and the end of Big Data. In a concluding section, we argue for the increased use of speculative fiction in education, but also as a tool to examine how specific technologies are culturally imagined and what kind of futures are considered plausible given current implementations and trajectories.


While previous studies have found games and gaming to be a new and innovative communication strategy to inform the public and citizens about scientific research and engage them with it, this article addresses the under-researched question of credibility aspects in research-based gaming. The study analyses agricultural stakeholders' discussions on the credibility of scientific descriptions in The Maladaptation Game — a game based on research on climate change maladaptation in Nordic agriculture. The analysis of focus group transcripts and frame credibility finds that players attribute credibility to 1) the perceived correspondence between game-articulated information on climate change, suggested adaptation actions and their potential maladaptive outcome, 2) the perceived “fit” between these elements and players' experiences, and 3) the information sources underpinning the game. Lastly, the article discusses the role of research-based games in science communication and advocates the need for careful balance between models of conceptual and scientific thinking in game design and everyday experiences among players.


Who speaks for “citizen science” on Twitter? Which territory of citizen science have they made visible so far? This paper offers the first description of the community of users who dedicate their online social media identity to citizen science. It shows that Twitter users who identify with the term “citizen science” are mostly U.S. science professionals in environmental sciences, and rarely projects' participants. In contrast to the original concept of “citizen science”, defined as a direct relationship between scientists and lay participants, this paper makes visible a third category of individual actors, mostly women, who connect these lay participants and scientists: the “citizen science broker”.


In this article, we follow up on food scientists' findings that people judge new food technologies and related products (un)favourably immediately after just hearing the name of the technology. From the reactions, it appears that people use their attitudes to technologies they know to evaluate new technologies. Using categorization theory, in this study we have found that, by triggering associations with a familiar technology, a name of the new technology can be enough to determine emerging attitudes. Comparison between the technology used for categorization and another familiar technology had a slight influence on the attitude formation process.


When it comes to complex topics in the field of health and risk communication, experts are of high importance for the credibility of a news media report. This paper examines the use of experts and their roles in the news media coverage of multi-resistant pathogens by means of a quantitative content analysis of German print and online news. A cluster analysis of the expert statements identifies three different statement frames describing different expert roles. The results show manifest patterns of selected expert sources, which points to professionalized mechanisms of selecting expert sources for news media reports.


Storytelling essentials are stories that direct attention, trigger emotions, and prompt understanding. Citizen science has recently promoted the narrative approach of storytelling as a means of engagement of people of all ages and backgrounds in scientific research processes. We seek understanding about the typology of storytelling in citizen science projects and explore to what extent the tool of storytelling can be conceptualized in the approach of citizen science. In a first step, we investigated the use and integration of storytelling in citizen science projects in the three European German-speaking countries. We conducted a low threshold content analysis of 209 projects listed on the German-speaking online platforms for citizen science projects “Bürger schaffen Wissen”, “Österreich forscht”, and “Schweiz forscht”. Two expert workshops with citizen science practitioners were held to validate and discuss the identified role of stories in the practice of citizen science. Our analysis revealed three major categories mirroring how stories are being integrated and applied in citizen science. The first category refers to projects, in which stories are the core research objective. The second category is characterized by the application of stories in different phases of the research project. The third category encompasses stories as agents being part of the communication and organization of the project. We illustrate the practical application of these categories by three representative case studies. By combining the functionality of the categories and abstracting the linkages between storytelling and citizen science, we derived a generalized model accounting for those linkages. In conclusion, we suggest that storytelling should be a prerequisite to enhance the competencies of the actors involved and to exchange knowledge at the interfaces of science and policy as well as science and society.


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