Article

16/07/2018

Communicating about environmental risks requires understanding and
addressing stakeholder needs, perspectives, and anticipated uses for
communication products and decision-support tools. This paper
demonstrates how long-term dialogue between scientists and stakeholders
can be facilitated by repeated stakeholder focus groups. We describe a
dialogic process for developing science-based decision-support tools as
part of a larger sea level rise research project in the Gulf of Mexico. We
demonstrate how focus groups can be used effectively in tool development,
discuss how stakeholders plan to use tools for decision-making and
broader public outreach, and describe features that stakeholders perceive
would make products more usable.

09/07/2018

Despite low public knowledge of synthetic biology, it is the focus of prominent government and academic ethics debates. We examine the “NY Times” media coverage of synthetic biology. Our results suggest that the story about synthetic biology remains ambiguous. We found this in four areas — 1) on the question of whether the field raises ethical concerns, 2) on its relationship to genetic engineering, 3) on whether or not it threatens ‘nature’, and 4) on the temporality of these concerns. We suggest that this ambiguity creates conditions in which there becomes no reason for the public at large to become involved.

02/07/2018

The measurement and analysis of people's knowledge on scientific topics, such as climate change, is challenging for researchers. One reason is that objectives are multi-dimensional and that probability is inherent. Moreover, uncertainties can exist on the individual's level among the public, but are rarely grasped by existing scales. Therefore, researchers must thoroughly consider what to measure and how. This paper theorizes five different dimensions of climate change knowledge. Three response scales including different degrees of confidence are applied on data from a German online survey (n=935); empirical results of multivariate regression analyses on attitudes are compared. Results highlight the importance of distinctively measuring dimensions and types of knowledge.

25/06/2018

The characteristics of interaction and dialogue implicit in the Web 2.0 have given rise to a new scenario in the relationship between science and society. The aim of this paper is the development of an evaluation tool scientifically validated by the Delphi method that permits the study of Internet usage and its effectiveness for encouraging public engagement in the scientific process. Thirty four indicators have been identified, structured into 6 interrelated criteria conceived for compiling data that help to explain the role of the Internet in favouring public engagement in science.

20/06/2018

We investigate the impact of a science documentary on individuals' intention to engage in information-related behaviors by experimentally testing the effects of source type (scientist, politician, or anonymous source) and communication setting (interview or lecture) using a manipulated clip from the documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Our results indicate that, compared to anonymous sources, use of authoritative ones result in greater intention to engage in some information-related behaviors. Additionally, our results suggest that increased intentions to engage in exchanging information can be attributed to negative affect induced by the clip featuring a politician. Implications for documentary films and science communication are discussed.

18/06/2018

Information visualization could be used to leverage the credibility of displayed scientific data. However, little was known about how display characteristics interact with individuals' predispositions to affect perception of data credibility. Using an experiment with 517 participants, we tested perceptions of data credibility by manipulating data visualizations related to the issue of nuclear fuel cycle based on three characteristics: graph format, graph interactivity, and source attribution. Results showed that viewers tend to rely on preexisting levels of trust and peripheral cues, such as source attribution, to judge the credibility of shown data, whereas their comprehension level did not relate to perception of data credibility. We discussed the implications for science communicators and design professionals.

11/06/2018

We present an assessment of the Engage program, a graduate-student-created and led training program at the University of Washington. Using a pre-course/post-course study design, we examined student ability to deliver a short presentation appropriate for a public audience. Based on both self-assessments and assessments by external reviewers, we show that Engage trainees had an increase in their ability to employ effective communication techniques.

04/06/2018

Public trust in agricultural biotechnology organizations that produce so-called ‘genetically-modified organisms’ (GMOs) is affected by misinformed attacks on GM technology and worry that producers' concern for profits overrides concern for the public good. In an experiment, we found that reporting that the industry engages in open and transparent research practices increased the perceived trustworthiness of university and corporate organizations involved with GMOs. Universities were considered more trustworthy than corporations overall, supporting prior findings in other technology domains. The results suggest that commitment to, and communication of, open and transparent research practices should be part of the process of implementing agricultural biotechnologies.

22/05/2018

The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of Comics & Science workshops where forty-one teenagers (designated Trainee Science Comic Authors [TSCAs]) are asked to create a one-page comic strip based on a scientific presentation given by a PhD student. Instrumental genesis is chosen as the conceptual framework to characterize the interplay between the specific characteristics of a comic and the pieces of scientific knowledge to be translated. Six workshops were conducted and analyzed. The results show that the TSCAs followed the codes that are specific to the comic strip medium and took some distance with the science integrity. Nevertheless being involved in the creative process allowed them to understand the reasons for certain choices of science illustration or storytelling. This approach can foster the emergence of a critical mind with respect to reading science stories created in other contexts.

15/05/2018

This paper deals with the journalistic coverage of biologically active compounds presented as promising drugs in Brazil. The sample consists of 214 journalistic stories on 40 compounds published in two daily newspapers and a monthly science magazine from January 1990 to December 2016. After 27 years, although journalists and scientists had claimed that all compounds would become drugs in a few years, only two completed the evaluation tests and were approved for commercialisation. The paper provides a series of strategies to build a more analytical view on drug research and development.

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