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Nov 29, 2016 Article
Public science communication in Africa: views and practices of academics at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe

by Heather Ndlovu, Marina Joubert and Nelius Boshoff

This study of the science communication views and practices of African researchers ― academics at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe ― reveals a bleak picture of the low status of public science engagement in the developing world. Researchers prioritise peer communication and pay little attention to the public, policy makers and popular media. Most scientists believe the public is largely not scientifically literate or interested in research. An unstable funding environment, a lack of communication incentives and censoring of politically sensitive findings further constrain researchers' interest in public engagement. Most NUST academics, however, are interested in science communication training. We suggest interventions that could revive and support public science engagement at African universities.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016

Sep 22, 2014 Article
Types of knowledge in science-based practices

by Nelius Boshoff

Science communication as an interdisciplinary field of study has always been concerned with issues of knowledge utilisation. This theoretical paper focusses on the “knowledge” part of knowledge utilisation and provides a conceptual frame to distinguish between different types of knowledge in science-based practice. A practitioner’s knowledge store is portrayed as a dense set of personal knowledge, consisting of procedural knowledge, factual knowledge, potential factual knowledge and opinions/beliefs; the totality of which is continuously refined through more experiences and additional information received from people, documents or events. Implications for future studies of knowledge utilisation in science-based practices are highlighted and a number of questions posed to science communication as a profession.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

Feb 11, 2014 Article
Use of scientific research by South African winemakers

by Nelius Boshoff

The study investigated the extent to which transmission and cognition, the first two stages in the research use process, are accomplished for winemakers. “Transmission-cognition” was operationalized as the frequency of engagement with information sources considered to be carriers of scientific research. The study also investigated the prominence of four types of research use among winemakers (conceptual, symbolic, instrumental and persuasive) together with their inter-relationship. Conceptual use of scientific information was reported by 90% of winemakers and is a precursor to the other types of research use. Findings are discussed with reference to knowledge creep and the dissemination of scientific research through central winemakers acting as nodes in social networks.

Volume 13 • Issue 01 • 2014