Editorial

21/01/2016

Citizen science is one of the most dramatic developments in science communication in the last generation. But analyses of citizen science, of what it means for science and especially for science communication, have just begun to appear. Articles in this first of two special issues of JCOM address three intertwined concerns in this emerging field: The motivation of citizen science participants, the relationship of citizen science with education, and the implications of participation for creation of democratic engagement in science-linked issues. Ultimately these articles contribute to answering the core question: What does citizen science mean?

15/12/2015

The design, delivery and evaluation of JCOM Masterclasses has given us the opportunity to reflect on the audiences, training needs and training schemes available to people working at different levels and in different contexts to communicate STEM subjects to a diverse variety of people. Although not always widely available, short courses in the communication of science have been offered in a number of countries around the world over the past few years. We felt it is now time to open a discussion on the rationale, the methods and the objectives of such training programmes.

29/09/2015

Taking the International Science in Popular Culture conference as a starting point, this editorial considers audiences for cultural products, considering the size of audiences (from blockbuster films, to intimate science slams), their pre-existing (or lack of pre-existing) interest in the subject and what this might offer the field of science communication.

11/06/2015

Measuring impact may be challenging, but does that mean we should accept a lack of ambition? Researchers in all fields are grappling with the challenge of how to measure impact (in many different contexts, which naturally leads to many different approaches), and so perhaps it is not surprising that the ‘impact culture’ is spreading to public engagement. But is the field rising to the challenge or should we think more broadly about how we demonstrate impact, perhaps freeing individual and smaller projects from the need to measure public impact and allowing them instead to focus on formative development? This editorial explores some of the issues in the field.

31/03/2015

This issue sees the implementation of new designs for the JCOM website and articles and there are plans for further updates over the next year. In a recent survey, we have explored readers opinions of the journal with a view to introducing improvements. Your interests are diverse, which is not surprising for a field which ranges from books and print media, to museums and interactive technologies. We are also reviewing our peer review process to ensure that it meets the needs of our authors.

19/12/2014

Over the past decades there has been an increasing recognition of the need to promote dialogue between science and society. Often this takes the form of formal processes, such as citizen’s juries, that are designed to allow the public to contribute their views on particular scientific research areas. But there are also many less formal mechanisms that promote a dialogue between science and society. This editorial considers science festivals and citizen science in this context and argues that we need a greater understanding of the potential impacts of these projects on the individuals involved, both scientists and the public.

22/09/2014

This issue of the Journal of Science Communication raises a number of questions about the ways that new scientific research emerges from research institutions and in particular the role played by scientists, press officers and journalists in this process. This is not to suggest that the public don't play an equally important role, and several articles in this issue raise questions about public engagement, but to explore the dynamics at play in one specific arena: that of news production. In this editorial I explore the increasing reliance of science journalists on public relations sources and consider what questions this raises for science communication.

06/05/2014

As academic communities across the globe are increasingly encouraged to share their knowledge outside the ivory towers of academia, it becomes ever more important to create a bridge that crosses continents and disciplinary boundaries. Sitting, as it does, at the nexus between science communication practice and research, JCOM has a vital role to play as just such a knowledge sharing platform.

13/03/2014

The demand for evaluation of science communication practices and the number and variety of such evaluations are all growing. But it is not clear what evaluation tells us - or even what it can tell us about the overall impacts of the now-global spread of science communication initiatives. On the other hand, well-designed evaluation of particular activities can support innovative and improved practices.

11/12/2013

Many science communication activities identify children as their main target. There are several reasons for this, even if, quite often, they are not expressed explicitly, as if children were a somehow “natural” public for science. On the contrary, we can observe a high level of complexity in the children agenda to engage with science, and in the science institution agendas for targeting children. But this does not seem to be followed but the same level of complexity in devising science engagement activities for children. The profound transformation of the scope and understanding of science communication that we have observed in recent years, in which keywords as dialogue, participation and empowerment have become essential, has only partially touched the younger public, which remains in most cases considered as a spectator for science.

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