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Dec 15, 2015 Editorial
Short training courses in science communication. Why? To whom? What?

by Paola Rodari and Emma Weitkamp

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.

Volume 14 • Issue 04 • 2015

Sep 29, 2015 Editorial
A question of (audience) reach

by Emma Weitkamp

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.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Jun 11, 2015 Editorial
Between ambition and evidence

by Emma Weitkamp

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.

Volume 14 • Issue 02 • 2015

Mar 31, 2015 Editorial
Moving forward, looking back

by Emma Weitkamp and Paola Rodari

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.

Volume 14 • Issue 01 • 2015

Dec 19, 2014 Editorial
Exploring serendipitous dialogue

by Emma Weitkamp

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.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014

Sep 22, 2014 Editorial
On the roles of scientists, press officers and journalists

by Emma Weitkamp

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.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

May 06, 2014 Editorial
Shared spaces: a future for JCOM

by Emma Weitkamp

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.

Volume 13 • Issue 02 • 2014

Sep 21, 2012 Commentary
Exploring the ways environmental science is used and valued by policy-makers in Portugal: a case study

by Ana Margarida Sardo and Emma Weitkamp

Policy-makers, researchers and the general public seem to agree that there is a need for evidence-based policies. Here we report on a case study which explores environmental policy-making at the national and local levels in one European country, Portugal. The case study focuses on understanding how that scientific evidence is used and valued by policy-makers. Our data show that in Portugal there are opportunities at national and local level for scientific evidence to influence environmental policy-making and there is a general belief amongst policy-makers that scientific evidence is essential for the development of solid and trustworthy policies. However, challenges remain, including difficulties in working together and challenges imposed by the policy cycle. The bridge may not yet be fully constructed, but in Portugal, policy-makers largely recognise the need for scientific evidence and the research community is beginning to reach out, looking for ways to connect with the policy community.

Volume 11 • Issue 03 • 2012

Sep 21, 2012 Commentary
Bridging the gap between science and policy: the importance of mutual respect, trust and the role of mediators

by Karen Bultitude, Paola Rodari and Emma Weitkamp

Around the world there are widespread efforts to ensure that policy decisions are based upon a sound evidence base, and in particular to facilitate closer integration between the research and policy communities. This commentary provides an overview of the current situation in different parts of the world relating to the opportunities that exist for policy makers to assimilate scientific findings, as well as the existing barriers perceived by both the policy and research communities. Mutual trust and respect between the relevant parties emerge as crucial factors in successful collaboration. Skilled mediators are also considered essential to ensuring effective communication; this may be via third parties such as NGOs, or news services and online portals to convey, ‘translate’ and place in a policy context the scientific findings. Mechanisms for improving researchers’ communication skills as well as increasing their awareness of the need to communicate proactively with the policy community are also considered in order to inform future practice in this area.

Volume 11 • Issue 03 • 2012

Oct 30, 2009 Article
Often overlooked: formative evaluation in the development of ScienceComics

by Emma Weitkamp and Helen Featherstone

Formative evaluation should play a key role in the development of a science communication project or initiative. Such research is vital to understanding the needs and interests of the audience or participants; meeting these needs and interests helps ensure the project’s success. However, there can be a temptation to plough ahead without undertaking adequate formative evaluation. Using ScienceComics ( as a case study, this article explores both the challenges and benefits of using formative evaluation to guide project development. It focuses on the actors involved in the formative stages and the impacts these actors had on the final outputs. This evidence is used to develop practical guidance on integrating formative evaluation right from the start.

Volume 8 • Issue 04 • 2009