Comment

22/09/2014

There is growing competition among publicly funded scientific institutes and universities to attract staff, students, funding and research partners. As a result, there has been increased emphasis on science communication activities in research institutes over the past decade. But are institutes communicating science simply for the sake of improving the institute’s image? In this set of commentaries we explore the relationship between science communication and public relations (PR) activities, in an attempt to clarify what research institutes are actually doing. The overall opinion of the authors is that science communication activities are almost always a form of PR. The press release is still the most popular science communication and PR tool. There is however disagreement over the usefulness of the press release and whether or not gaining public attention is actually good for science.

06/05/2014

Social inclusion is an emerging preoccupation in the science communication field. The political value of science communication (e.g. in terms of empowerment) and the necessity to address all audiences has always been considered, but in recent times the participation agenda has enriched the rationale and methodologies of the communication of science: social inclusion is not only an issue of access to knowledge, but also of governance and co-production.

13/03/2014

An evaluation toolkit developed as part of the EU-funded PLACES project was applied in 26 case studies across Europe. Results show, among other things, the contribution of science communication initiatives to public curiosity, professional networking and perception of cities where these initiatives are stronger.

13/03/2014

The great increase in visitor studies on science museums and centres (SMC) has been marked also by a shift in approach to these studies, paying more attention to the social context of the visits and the nature of the experience. Evaluations have influenced directly SMC exhibition practices but more attention needs to be paid in research about the personal experiences of visits, how these are interpreted and how they contribute to scientific literacy.

13/03/2014

Evaluations of science communication activities before, during and after their implementation can provide findings that are useful in planning further activities. As some selected examples show, designing such evaluation is complex: they may involve assessment at various points, a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, and show that impacts differ when seen from different perspectives.

13/03/2014

Even in the best-resourced science communication institutions, poor quality evaluation methods are routinely employed. This leads to questionable data, specious conclusions and stunted growth in the quality and effectiveness of science communication practice. Good impact evaluation requires upstream planning, clear objectives from practitioners, relevant research skills and a commitment to improving practice based on evaluation evidence.

13/03/2014

As science museums and centres (SMC) broaden their practices to include the development of scientific citizenship, evaluation needs also to take account of this dimension of their practices. It requires complex methods to understand better the impacts of public participation in activities mediated by SMC, including their impacts on the governance of the SMC themselves.

11/12/2013

In the editorial of this issue of JCOM, we underline how children are on one hand one of the main target group for science communication, and on the other hand a largely excluded group in the shift from a linear diffusion model to a dialogic model of science communication. In this series of comments, stimulated by the EU - FP7-Science in society project `SiS-Catalyst - 2013 children as change agents for science in society' (a four year programme aimed at crossing the science in society and the social inclusion agendas), we would like to explore methods and approaches that can ensure that, in science communication contexts, children can be listened to, that they are given the chance to express their view, and that they can be empowered in building their own relationship with science, and thus a sense of ownership for scientific knowledge.

21/03/2013

Scientific journalism ought to pay attention not only to the “products” of science, but also to the ways in which it operates in any given historical and political   context. A critical analysis of the presently dominant rhetoric of innovation and unlimited growth is necessary to shed light on the relationship between science  and democracy. Equally profitable would be a thorough investigation of past and present controversies on the role of scientists in decision-making.

21/03/2013

The science&art research played an important role in the topics covered by JCOM because actually the convergence of languages and themes of art and science increasingly continue to act synergistically in the most diverse knowledge fields.

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