May 29, 2023 Practice Insight
Active ingredients of science communication impact: a quantitative study at a science festival

by Madelijn Strick and Stephanie Helfferich

This quantitative survey study aimed to identify “active ingredients” of a science festival in The Netherlands. Active ingredients are the elements of science communication activities that drive the impact on visitors' knowledge, attitudes, or behavior. Factor analyses of data from on-site surveys conducted in two different festival years (Total N=456) revealed three active ingredients: personal relevance, accessibility, and interactivity. Furthermore, the analyses revealed two impacts: increased knowledge/insight and increased familiarity with science. The strongest predictor of impact was personal relevance, which denotes the feeling that the festival activities touched on visitors' emotions and personal life.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

May 22, 2023 Article
Ups and downs on “r/science” — exploring the dynamics of science communication on Reddit

by Jonas Kaiser, Birte Fähnrich and Laura Heintz

This exploratory study analyzed user-generated science communication on Reddit from May 2007 to October 2018 (n = 694.147 posts). We used automated content analyses and topic modelling to explore patterns that the user-generated communication exhibits. Results indicate that science communication on r/science refers to a broad range of different topics and disciplines. Specific upvote features of Reddit result in increased attention to sources and topics. Especially, social media sources and content that is self-referential to Reddit lead to high controversy in discussions.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

May 15, 2023 Article
Diversifying citizen science through the inclusion of young people

by Natasha Louise Constant and Joelene Hughes

The study presents findings on motivations, barriers and recommendations that enhance youth engagement in citizen science particularly, those with no prior citizen science experience. We conducted focus groups targeting young people with and without citizen science experience. Qualitative findings identify a range of motivations including career development, new interests and knowledge, altruistic values, social interactions, inclusivity and connections to new places and nature. Several barriers were identified including logistical constraints, lack of knowledge and interest, programmatic and organisational issues. We discuss the implications of our findings to broaden the diversity of citizen scientists toward a younger demographic.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

May 08, 2023 Article
The reported effects of neuroscience literacy and belief in neuromyths among parents of adolescents

by Ilona M. B. Benneker, Nikki C. Lee, Sibel Altikulaç, Chiel van der Veen, Lydia Krabbendam and Nienke van Atteveldt

Neuroscience research has increased our understanding of brain development, but little is known about how parents of adolescents engage with this neuroscientific information. Dutch parents completed a digital survey on neuromyths, neuroscience literacy and views of the adolescent brain and behaviour. These parents believed 44.7% of neuromyths and showed reasonable neuroscience literacy (79.8%). Stronger neuromyth belief predicted a more negative view on adolescent brain development. About 68% of the parents reported that they had changed their parenting behaviour based on their understanding of neuroscientific findings. These self-reported changes most often reflected changes to parents' own behaviour. The results of this study underline the importance for scientists and parents to engage in scientific activities to promote respectful and trusting relationships between them. These relationships have the potential to make communication about adolescent brain development between scientists and parents more effective and will empower parents to use correct information as a basis for their decisions around raising their adolescents.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

May 02, 2023 Essay
The Notorious GPT: science communication in the age of artificial intelligence

by Mike S. Schäfer

ChatGPT provides original, human-like responses to user prompts based on supervised and reinforcement machine learning techniques. It has become the poster child of generative AI, which is widely diagnosed to disrupt many realms of life — including science communication. This essay reflects on this development. It discusses opportunities for the practice of science communication, such as generative AI’s translational and multimodal capacities and its capacity to provide dialogical science communication at scale, but also challenges in terms of accuracy, ‘wrongness at scale’ or job market implications. It also ponders implications for research on science communication, which has largely neglected (generative) AI so far. It argues that scholars should analyze public communication “about” AI as well as communication “with” AI, given its ‘increased agency’. Furthermore, scholars should analyze the impact of AI on science communication itself and the larger science communication ecosystem.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Apr 24, 2023 Article
Exploring the brand of science: implications for science communication research and practice

by Todd P. Newman and Becca Beets

Research on branding seeks to uncover the emotional, sensory, and cognitive meanings when a person first encounters an object, person, or idea. This exploratory study uncovers how these meanings apply in the context of science, and why a branding framework is important for science communication theory and practice. Reporting on survey data collected in April and June 2021, our results suggest a consistent functional brand image for science, yet a more nuanced context for how different branding constructs relate to science.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Apr 17, 2023 Article
Who are “we”? Examining relational ethos in British Columbia, Canada's COVID-19 public health communication

by Philippa Spoel, Alexandra Millar, Naomi Lacelle and Aarani Mathialagan

This paper investigates the multiple meanings and functions of the pronoun “we” in COVID-19 public updates by British Columbia's acclaimed Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in 2020. Our rhetorical case study shows how “we” contributes to Henry's relational ethos by attempting to foster a communal identity with her implied audience while also distinguishing public health expertise, actions, and authority from citizens' knowledge and actions. Ambiguous uses of “we” blur the line between the knowledge and responsibilities of “we” in public health and “we” as citizens. Overall, our rhetorical analysis demonstrates the significant but ambivalent role this pronoun can play in building relations of social trust among citizens, experts, and institutions within public health and science communication contexts and it suggests the importance of judicious pronoun usage when communicators strive to foster these relations.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Apr 11, 2023 Article
Support for COVID-19 mandatory vaccination in the United States: examining the role of cultural worldviews, risk-benefit perceptions, and trust in scientists

by Yuan Wang, John Leach, Jiyoun Kim and Saymin Lee

This study sets out to understand the role of cultural worldviews, risk perceptions, and trust in scientists in impacting U.S. participants' support for COVID-19 mandatory vaccination. Results from an online survey (“N” = 594) suggest that stronger individualistic and hierarchical worldviews are associated with more perceived COVID-19 vaccination risks, less perceived COVID-19 vaccination benefits, and lower support for COVID-19 mandatory vaccination. Perceived benefits mediate the impact of cultural worldviews on support for COVID-19 mandatory vaccination. Trust in scientists moderates the relationship between cultural worldviews and perceived benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Apr 03, 2023 Article
Socioscientific issues in science exhibitions: examining contributions of the informal science education sector

by Ana Maria Navas Iannini

This paper examines how a particular subset of informal science education settings — science exhibitions — embraces contemporary socioscientific issues (SSI) and fosters public engagement with them. A qualitative cross-case analysis of two SSI exhibitions about teen pregnancy (Brazil) and sustainability (Canada) was conducted. It revealed complex issues around operational funding, and institutional tensions related to the nature, balance, and relevance of the topics displayed. The analysis unravelled opportunities for SSI exhibits to engage with contextualized and situated knowledge; articulate the deficit model with other models of science communication; and consider visitors as agents of change.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Mar 27, 2023 Essay
Factors affecting the efficacy of short stories as science communication tools

by Masoud Irani and Emma Weitkamp

People become familiar with stories as sources of information in their childhood, and, while they have recently received interest as potential science communication tools, few studies have considered aspects of story quality on science communication. We postulate that quality is an important, if challenging, facet that should be considered when exploring the potential of short stories in science communication. This essay argues that quality should be a key consideration of those interested in studying or working with short stories for science communication purposes and presents criteria for the `well-made' short story.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023