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Jun 03, 2024 Practice Insight
GlobalSCAPE: successes and failures in connecting with science communicators around the world

by Joseph Roche, Mairéad Hurley, Eric A. Jensen, Luisa Massarani, Pedro Russo and Aoife Taylor

The GlobalSCAPE research project was tasked with engaging people working in science communication to better understand their views of the field. While being a European-based research project, GlobalSCAPE aimed to connect with science communicators across the globe. This practice insight paper reflects on the lessons learned from GlobalSCAPE, the successes and failures, and what might be done to continue the work of global science communication research projects. It is hoped that such learnings will be of broad interest to research and practice communities grappling with ways to fund and support science communication around the world.

Volume 23 • Issue 04 • 2024 • Special Issue: Science communication for social justice

Jun 10, 2022 Commentary
Developing open, reflexive and socially responsible science communication research and practice

by Eric A. Jensen

There are many different pathways into science communication practice and research. But rarely do these pathways require critical reflection on what it means to be a ‘responsible’ science communicator or researcher. The need for this kind of critical reflection is increasingly salient in a world marked by the wilful disregard of evidence in many high-profile contexts, including politics and, most recently, public health. Responsible science communicators and researchers are audience- and impact-focused, beginning their decision-making process by considering their audiences’ starting positions, needs and values. This article outlines some key considerations for developing socially responsibility for science communication as a field both in terms of practice and research.

Volume 21 • Issue 04 • 2022 • Special Issue: Responsible science communication across the globe

Sep 29, 2015 Commentary
Evaluating impact and quality of experience in the 21st century: using technology to narrow the gap between science communication research and practice

by Eric A. Jensen

Access to high quality evaluation results is essential for science communicators to identify negative patterns of audience response and improve outcomes. However, there are many good reasons why robust evaluation linked is not routinely conducted and linked to science communication practice. This essay begins by identifying some of the common challenges that explain this gap between evaluation evidence and practice. Automating evaluation processes through new technologies is then explicated as one solution to these challenges, capable of yielding accurate real-time results that can directly feed into practice. Automating evaluation through smartphone and web apps tied to open source analysis tools can deliver on-going evaluation insights without the expense of regularly employing external consultants or hiring evaluation experts in-house. While such automation does not address all evaluation needs, it can save resources and equip science communicators with the information they need to continually enhance practice for the benefit of their audiences.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Sep 29, 2015 Essay
Highlighting the value of impact evaluation: enhancing informal science learning and public engagement theory and practice

by Eric A. Jensen

King et al. [2015] argue that ‘emphasis on impact is obfuscating the valuable role of evaluation’ in informal science learning and public engagement (p. 1). The article touches on a number of important issues pertaining to the role of evaluation, informal learning, science communication and public engagement practice. In this critical response essay, I highlight the article’s tendency to construct a straw man version of ‘impact evaluation’ that is impossible to achieve, while exaggerating the value of simple forms of feedback-based evaluation exemplified in the article. I also identify a problematic tendency, evident in the article, to view the role of ‘impact evaluation’ in advocacy terms rather than as a means of improving practice. I go through the evaluation example presented in the article to highlight alternative, impact-oriented evaluation strategies, which would have addressed the targeted outcomes more appropriately than the methods used by King et al. [2015]. I conclude that impact evaluation can be much more widely deployed to deliver essential practical insights for informal learning and public engagement practitioners.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Mar 13, 2014 Commentary
The problems with science communication evaluation

by Eric A. Jensen

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.

Volume 13 • Issue 01 • 2014