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Jan 18, 2023 Article
`Pandem-icons' — exploring the characteristics of highly visible scientists during the Covid-19 pandemic

by Marina Joubert, Lars Guenther, Jenni Metcalfe, Michelle Riedlinger, Anwesha Chakraborty, Toss Gascoigne, Bernard Schiele, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Dmitry Malkov, Eliana Fattorini, Gema Revuelta, Germana Barata, Jan Riise, Justin T. Schröder, Maja Horst, Margaret Kaseje, Marnell Kirsten, Martin W. Bauer, Massimiano Bucchi, Natália Flores, Orli Wolfson and Tingjie Chen

The Covid-19 pandemic escalated demand for scientific explanations and guidance, creating opportunities for scientists to become publicly visible. In this study, we compared characteristics of visible scientists during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic (January to December 2020) across 16 countries. We find that the scientists who became visible largely matched socio-cultural criteria that have characterised visible scientists in the past (e.g., age, gender, credibility, public image, involvement in controversies). However, there were limited tendencies that scientists commented outside their areas of expertise. We conclude that the unusual circumstances created by Covid-19 did not change the phenomenon of visible scientists in significant ways.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Dec 14, 2022 Book Review
Put to the test: science communication in crisis situations

by Lars Guenther

Risk and crisis situations can put science communication to the test, but systematic approaches to science communication in relation to crisis communication are still missing. “Science communication in times of crisis”, edited by Pascal Hohaus and published in 2022, is about this relationship. The book review provides an overview, a summary, and a short criticism of this edited volume. As will be outlined, while the book is a valuable contribution to the field, its overall aims could have been more strongly tied together.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Jul 04, 2022 Commentary
Evidence in the eye of the beholder: portrayals of risk and scientific (un)certainty in ‘Don't look up’

by Lars Guenther and Lutz Granert

In this invited comment, we discuss portrayals of risk and scientific (un)certainty in ‘Don't look up’. Specific scenes of the movie were selected, to reflect how within and between the spheres of science, politics, journalism, and economics an upcoming risk and its scientific (un)certainty is (re-)interpreted and (re-)framed, in line with the respective sphere's logic. We extend our assessment by common criteria of film analysis and comparisons to climate change, where applicable. This comment emphasizes how in the movie the logic of economy is taken over by politics and journalism, and how it prevails over the logic of science.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Mar 01, 2021 Article
The newsworthiness of the “March for Science” in Germany: comparing news factors in journalistic media and on Twitter

by Lars Guenther, Georg Ruhrmann, Mercedes C. Zaremba and Natalie Weigelt

Germany was second in the number of March for Science participants. Applying news value theory, this article analyzes the newsworthiness of the 2018 March for Science in Germany, comparing journalistic (online) reporting on the march (N=86) and Twitter communication about #marchforscience (N=591). The results of the content analyses reveal that news factors were more frequent and reached higher intensities in journalistic reporting than on Twitter. Relevance, prominence, personalization, and influence were the news factors most emphasized by journalists. On Twitter, reach was the only news factor correlating with social media engagement (likes, comments, and retweets).

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Dec 14, 2020 Article
The COVID-19 mirror: reflecting science-society relationships across 11 countries

by Jenni Metcalfe, Michelle Riedlinger, Martin W. Bauer, Anwesha Chakraborty, Toss Gascoigne, Lars Guenther, Marina Joubert, Margaret Kaseje, Susana Herrera-Lima, Gema Revuelta, Jan Riise and Bernard Schiele

Twelve researchers from 11 countries used autoethnographic techniques, keeping diaries over 10 weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, to observe and reflect on changes in the role and cultural authority of science during important stages of viral activity and government action in their respective countries. We followed arguments, discussions and ideas generated by mass and social media about science and scientific expertise, observed patterns and shifts in narratives, and made international comparisons. During regular meetings via video conference, the participating researchers discussed theoretical approaches and our joint methodology for reflecting on our observations. This project is informed by social representations theory, agenda-setting, and frames of meaning associated with the rise and fall of expertise and trust. This paper presents our observations and reflections on the role and authority of science in our countries from March 10 to May 31, 2020. This is the first stage of a longer-term project that aims to identify, analyse and compare changes in science-society relationships over the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

May 11, 2020 Book Review
A textbook linking theory, research, and practice of science communication

by Lars Guenther

This book review will discuss “Science communication. An introduction”, edited by Frans van Dam, Liesbeth de Bakker, Anne Dijkstra, and Eric Jensen (2020), the first book in the PCST book series. The review will give an overview, a summary, and a criticism of this textbook, which is intended to be used in educational programs in science communication. As will be outlined, the book puts specific emphasis on linking theory, research, and practice, as well as including more perspectives from developing country contexts, and thus provides a valuable contribution to the dynamic field of science communication.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

May 03, 2017 Article
Science communication as a field of research: identifying trends, challenges and gaps by analysing research papers

by Lars Guenther and Marina Joubert

Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry. Early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West. The current study is a systematic, bibliographic analysis of a full sample of research papers that were published in the three most prominent journals in the field from 1979 to 2016. The findings reveal that early inequities remain prevalent, but also that there are indications that recent increases in research outputs and trends in authorship patterns ― for example the growth in female authorship ― are beginning to correct some of these imbalances. Furthermore, the current study verifies earlier indications that science communication research is becoming increasingly institutionalised and internationalised, as demonstrated by an upward trend in papers reflecting cross-institutional collaboration and the diversity of countries where authors are based.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Sep 21, 2016 Commentary
Science communication and the issue of trust

by Peter Weingart and Lars Guenther

Science communication, whether internally or to the general public depends on trust, both trust in the source and trust in the medium of communication. With the new 'ecology of communication' this trust is endangered. On the one hand the very term of science communication has been captured by many different actors (e.g., governments, PR experts, universities and research institutions, science journalists, and bloggers) apart from scientists themselves to whom science communication means different things and whose communication is tainted by special interests. Some of these actors are probably more trusted by the general public than others. On the other hand, the channels that are used to communicate science are also not trusted equally. Particularly the widespread use of social media raises doubts about the credibility of the communication spread through them.

Volume 15 • Issue 05 • 2016

Sep 24, 2013 Article
Science journalists' selection criteria and depiction of nanotechnology in German media

by Lars Guenther and Georg Ruhrmann

For lay people, mass media are the main source of scientific information; that is why science journalists’ selection and depiction of scientific issues is an important field to study. This paper investigates science journalists’ general issue selection and additionally focuses on science journalists’ depiction of nanoscale science and technology and its related scientific evidence (certainty/uncertainty of research findings). Face-to-face interviews with science journalists (n = 21) from different German media channels were conducted. The results show that the professional role conception, personal interest, news factors and organizational processes mainly influence the selection of science journalists. Overall, journalists have increasingly positive attitudes towards nanoscale science and technology. But results indicate that the coverage of scientific evidence differs according to the science journalists’ focus on beneficial or risky aspects of this emerging technology: journalists stress scientific uncertainty predominantly when discussing the risks of nanoscale science and technology.

Volume 12 • Issue 3 • 2013