Article

06/02/2018

This study examines the relative efficacy of citizen science recruitment messages appealing to four motivations that were derived from previous research on motives for participation in citizen-science projects. We report on an experiment (N=36,513) that compared the response to email messages designed to appeal to these four motives for participation. We found that the messages appealing to the possibility of contributing to science and learning about science attracted more attention than did one about helping scientists but that one about helping scientists generated more initial contributions. Overall, the message about contributing to science resulted in the largest volume of contributions and joining a community, the lowest. The results should be informative to those managing citizen-science projects.

16/01/2018

While academic interest in science comics has been growing in recent years, the creators of these materials remain understudied. This research aimed to explore the experiences and views of science comic creators through the lens of science communication. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 science comic creators. Interviewees felt that the visual, narrative, permanent, and approachable qualities of comics made them particularly adept at explaining science and bringing it to new audiences. Science comic creators often had complex identities, occupying an ambiguous territory between `science' and `art', but were otherwise unconcerned with strict definitions. They emphasised the importance of balance between entertaining and informing, striving to create an engaging visual narrative without overcrowding it with facts or compromising scientific accuracy. This balancing act, and how they negotiate it, sheds light on what it means to be a science communicator operating in the space between entertainment and information/education.

13/12/2017

This paper analyzes data collected but not reported in the study featured in van der Linden, Leiserowitz, Feinberg, and Maibach [van der Linden et al., 2015]. VLFM report finding that a “scientific consensus” message “increased” experiment subjects' “key beliefs about climate change” and “in turn” their “support for public action” to mitigate it. However, VLFM fail to report that message-exposed subjects' “beliefs about climate change” and “support for public action” did not vary significantly, in statistical or practical terms, from those of a message-unexposed control group. The paper also shows how this absence of an experimental effect was obscured by a misspecified structural equation model.

13/12/2017

In this paper, we respond to the critiques presented by [Kahan, 2017]. Contrary to claims that the scientific consensus message did not significantly influence the key mediator and outcome variables in our model, we show that the experiment in [van der Linden et al., 2015] did in fact directly influence key beliefs about climate change. We also clarify that the Gateway Belief Model (GBM) is theoretically well-specified, empirically sound, and as hypothesized, the consensus message exerts a significant indirect influence on support for public action through the mediating variables. We support our conclusions with a large-scale replication.

21/11/2017

This study explored how different presentations of an object in deep space affect understanding, engagement, and aesthetic appreciation. A total of n = 2,502 respondents to an online survey were randomly assigned to one of 11 versions of Cassiopeia A, comprising 6 images and 5 videos ranging from 3s to approximately 1min. Participants responded to intial items regarding what the image looked like, the aesthetic appeal of the image, perceptions of understanding, and how much the participant wanted to learn more. After the image was identified, participants indicated the extent to which the label increased understanding and how well the image represented the object. A final item asked for questions about the image for an atronomer. Results suggest that alternative types of images can and should be used, provided they are accompanied by explanations. Qualitative data indicated that explanations should include information about colors used, size, scale, and location of the object. The results are discussed in terms of science communication to the public in the face of increasing use of technology.

12/10/2017

Research suggests non-experts associate different content with the terms “global warming” and “climate change.” We test this claim with Twitter content using supervised learning software to categorize tweets by topic and explore differences between content using “global warming” and “climate change” between 1 January 2012 and 31 March 2014. Twitter data were combined with temperature records to observe the extent to which temperature was associated with Twitter discussions. We then used two case studies to examine the relationship between extreme temperature events and Twitter content. Our findings underscore the importance of considering climate change communication on social media.

20/09/2017

In June of 2014, geologists reported that, for the first time, more earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 occurred in Oklahoma than in California [Terry-Cobo, 2014]. In Oklahoma, the frequency of earthquakes that are strong enough to be felt has increased 44 times in recent years and this has been correlated to a dramatic increase in high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) operations [Hume, 2014]. The aims of this study are: (1) to determine how hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, and Oklahoma earthquakes are framed by print-based media at the local, national, and international levels; (2) to understand how the association between these factors has evolved over time; and (3) to further analyze the differences between experts on the subjects of causality and threat characterization (e.g., severity). A total of 169 print news reports were included for analysis: 48 local/Oklahoma reports (28% of total sample), 72 national reports (42% of total sample) and 49 international news reports (30% of total sample). The findings reveal significant differences in the frame techniques, sources of information, and the foci of subject matter between three different media scales in print based media. Results, discussion and implications are provided.

18/09/2017

Science communicators develop qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate the ‘impact’ of their work however narrative is rarely adopted as a form of evaluation. We posit narrative as an evaluative approach for research projects with a core science communication element and offer several narrative methods to be trialled. We use citizen science projects as an example of science communication research seeking to gain knowledge of participant-emergent themes via evaluations. Storied experience of participant involvement enhances understanding of context-based and often intangible processes, such as changing place-relations, values, and self-efficacy, by enabling a reflective space for critical-thinking and self-reflection.

12/09/2017

To unravel how science museums can prepare citizens for reflection on research and innovation, this study evaluates a playful exhibit prototype, Opinion Lab (OL). The OL made children and parents reflect on synthetic biology (SB), supported by conversation exercises, citizen-narratives, and futuristic scenarios. We analysed 26 OL test sessions performed in NEMO science museum Amsterdam. The prototype appeared to support participants in opinion forming, counter-argument incorporation and extrapolation. Also, reflection on deeper questions such as `what is nature?' evoked understanding for alternative viewpoints. These findings show that playful exhibits, like the OL, potentially facilitate dialogue in science museums very well.

04/09/2017

This study aims to test the perceptions of audiences to positive and non-aggressive humour in two popular articles. The themes were the effects of climate change on biodiversity and the over-exploitation of species. Both articles were published on-line at a Portuguese environmental site, and readers were asked to answer to an on-line survey. A total of 159 participants submitted their answers concerning their receptiveness to the humour, demographic information and comments. Results showed that the use of humour in popular articles is considered valuable for the majority of these readers, but different degrees of receptiveness suggest caution in its use.

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