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Filter by keyword: Science communication: theory and models

Publications including this keyword are listed below.

Nov 21, 2017 Article
Capturing the many faces of an exploded star: communicating complex and evolving astronomical data

by Lisa Smith, Kimberly Arcand, Randall Smith, Jay Bookbinder and Jeffrey Smith

This study explored how different presentations of an object in deep space affect understanding, engagement, and aesthetic appreciation. A total of n = 2,502 respondents to an online survey were randomly assigned to one of 11 versions of Cassiopeia A, comprising 6 images and 5 videos ranging from 3s to approximately 1min. Participants responded to intial items regarding what the image looked like, the aesthetic appeal of the image, perceptions of understanding, and how much the participant wanted to learn more. After the image was identified, participants indicated the extent to which the label increased understanding and how well the image represented the object. A final item asked for questions about the image for an atronomer. Results suggest that alternative types of images can and should be used, provided they are accompanied by explanations. Qualitative data indicated that explanations should include information about colors used, size, scale, and location of the object. The results are discussed in terms of science communication to the public in the face of increasing use of technology.

Volume 16 • Issue 05 • 2017

Sep 20, 2017 Editorial
The ethics of science communication

by Fabien Medvecky and Joan Leach

What is it that really makes communicating science a good, moral thing to do? And are there limits to the potential ‘goodness’ of science communication? In this article, we argue it is time we consider what an ethics of science communication might look like. Not only will this help us figure out what doing the right, moral thing might be. It also invites us to think through one of the most perplexing, challenging and pressing question for this still emerging field: what are the core unifying features of science communication?

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Sep 20, 2017 Commentary
Science fiction and science futures: considering the role of fictions in public engagement and science communication work

by Michael Reinsborough

The imagination of possible scientific futures has a colourful history of interaction with scientific research agendas and public expectations. The 2017 annual UK Science in Public conference included a panel discussing this. Emphasizing fiction as a method for engaging with and mapping the influence of possible futures, this panel discussed the role of science fiction historically, the role of science fiction in public attitudes to artificial intelligence, and its potential as a method for engagement between scientific researchers and publics. Science communication for creating mutually responsive dialogue between research communities and publics about setting scientific research agendas should consider the role of fictions in understanding how futures are imagined by all parties.

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Sep 18, 2017 Article
Narratives as a mode of research evaluation in citizen science: understanding broader science communication impacts

by Natasha Constant and Liz Roberts

Science communicators develop qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate the ‘impact’ of their work however narrative is rarely adopted as a form of evaluation. We posit narrative as an evaluative approach for research projects with a core science communication element and offer several narrative methods to be trialled. We use citizen science projects as an example of science communication research seeking to gain knowledge of participant-emergent themes via evaluations. Storied experience of participant involvement enhances understanding of context-based and often intangible processes, such as changing place-relations, values, and self-efficacy, by enabling a reflective space for critical-thinking and self-reflection.

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Jun 21, 2017 Commentary
Computer-aided text analysis: an open-aired laboratory for social sciences

by Yuri Castelfranchi

Thanks, on the one hand, to the extraordinary availability of colossal textual archives and, on the other hand, to advances in computational possibilities, today the social scientist has at their disposal an extraordinary laboratory, made of millions of interacting subjects and billions of texts. An unprecedented, yet challenging, opportunity for science. How to test, corroborate models? How to control, interpret and validate Big Data? What is the role of theory in the universe of patterns and statistical correlations? In this article, we will show some general characteristics of the use of computational tools for the analysis of texts, and some applications in the areas of public communication of S&T and Science and Technology Studies (STS), also showing some of their limitations and pitfalls.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Jun 21, 2017 Commentary
Big data and digital methods in science communication research: opportunities, challenges and limits

by Nico Pitrelli

Computational social science represents an interdisciplinary approach to the study of reality based on advanced computer tools. From economics to political science, from journalism to sociology, digital approaches and techniques for the analysis and management of large quantities of data have now been adopted in several disciplines. The papers in this JCOM commentary focus on the use of such approaches and techniques in the research on science communication. As the papers point out, the most significant advantages of a computational approach in this sector include the chance to open up a range of new research opportunities: from the study of technical and scientific controversies to citizen science, from the definition of new norms and practices for science journalism to open science issues. On the other hand, difficulties are shared with other areas of application. The main risk is that the large quantity of data available can overwhelm the importance of theory. Instead, as the papers in this commentary demonstrate, big data should push scientists to pursue a deeper epistemological and methodological reflection also in the research on science communication.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Jun 21, 2017 Commentary
The shift from public science communication to public relations. The Vaxxed case

by Davide Bennato

Social media is restructuring the dynamics of science communication processes inside and outside the scientific world. As concerns science communication addressed to the general public, we are witnessing the advent of communication practices that are more similar to public relations than to the traditional processes of the Public Understanding of Science. By analysing the digital communication strategies implemented for the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed, the paper illustrates these new communication dynamics, that are both social and computational.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Mar 13, 2017 Book Review
Spotlighting shared goals for science education and communication

by Laura Fogg-Rogers

van den Sanden and Vries curate reflections and insights about the shared goals, practices and processes which bring together academics and practitioners in science education and communication. The book spotlights areas of productive overlap but is just the beginning for meaningful collaboration.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Dec 16, 2016 Commentary
Communication as intermediation for socio-technical innovation

by Cees Leeuwis and Noelle Aarts

The academic interest in 'science and technology communication' has evolved from different societal domains and fields of application, giving rise to different scholarly traditions. This contribution introduces current issues and agendas in a field that has its origin at the interface of (agricultural) innovation studies, rural development sociology and the communication sciences. The paper starts with a brief sketch of the history of the field. When compared to earlier approaches, current thinking about 'communication, innovation and development' pays greater attention to limitations in the potential of orchestrating change and innovation in pre-planned directions, and to political and institutional dimensions of both communication and innovation. In relation to this, new lines of questioning are discussed. The article ends with a reflection on the usefulness of the thinking from different historical periods today. It is argued that approaches to science and technology communication need to be matched with the level of complexity of the issue at hand.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016

Dec 16, 2016 Commentary
Science communication for uncertain science and innovation

by Maarten van der Sanden and Steven Flipse

Differences in viewpoints between science and society, like in for example the HPV-vaccination debate, should be considered from a socio-technical system perspective, and not solely from a boundary perspective between the lay public, medical doctors and scientists. Recent developments in the HPV-vaccination case show how the debate concerning uncertainty amongst scientists and the lay audience is mostly focussed on the improvement of understanding of lay people about why vaccination is important. This boundary thinking leads to the idea that once the boundary is crossed, the problem is solved. However, such ‘bug-fixing’ and technocentric boundary thinking is not leading to sustainable resolutions. We view science communication as a key aspect of the socio-technical system of scientific, technological and innovation  development, in which the vaccine and its corresponding immunisation program are socially constructed. A process of construction that takes place all the way from the fuzzy front-end of their scientific conception until the marketing back-end. The authority, legitimacy and therefore the license to operate of scientists, engineers and policy makers are discussed, primarily at this boundary, but develops during the whole process of innovation. During upstream processes, professional roles and according behaviour are also defined.

In this commentary we state that the development of science communication strategies should also start upstream, and that the ‘bug-fixes’ of improved listening to (and not by) the lay audience, could be become a more sustainable solution to the HPV-debate if this process of listening by experts considers the socio-technical system of vaccination as a whole. One of the outcomes might be that the dialogue between scientists, policy makers and the lay audience is about the various possible scenarios that deal with inherent scientific and societal uncertainty in which the inevitable uncertainty of science becomes more explicit. It is not known according whether this will lead to more profound interactions, however we would like to explore this possibility a bit more from an uncertain innovation process point of view. This could clear the way for a process of co-inquiry into ideas concerning shared responsibility and accountability. The latter means that the focus in the debate is more balanced and concerns the social network, and is not purely focussed on the betterment ofunderstanding by the lay  audience. Moreover, in this way we consider communication and interaction between actors not as a means of crossing any boundaries (since that may be impossible), but as a means to perturb a status quo or equilibrium within a network of actors. This makes apparent boundaries more explicit and discussable. Methods of interaction, e.g. based on concepts like midstream modulation, may lead to another discourse and give way to new dynamics in this social system.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016