All author's publications are listed below.
We explore and discuss the diverse motives that drive science communication, pointing out that political motives are the major driving force behind most science communication programmes including so-called public engagement with science with the result that educational and promotional objectives are blurred and science communication activities are rarely evaluated meaningfully. Since this conflation of motives of science communication and the gap between political rhetoric and science communication practice could threaten the credibility of science, we argue for the restoration of a crucial distinction between two types of science communication: educational/dialogic vs promotional/persuasive.
Volume 18 • Issue 03 • 2019 • Special Issue: Communication at the Intersection of Science and Politics, 2019
A study in South Africa shed light on a set of factors, specific to this country, that compel South African scientists towards public engagement. It highlights the importance of history, politics, culture and socio-economic conditions in influencing scientists' willingness to engage with lay audiences. These factors have largely been overlooked in studies of scientists' public communication behaviours.
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.
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.