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Jan 21, 2016 Article
Motivation and learning impact of Dutch flu-trackers

by Anne M. Land-Zandstra, Mara van Beusekom, Carl Koppeschaar and Jos van den Broek

Many citizen science projects deal with high attrition rates. The Dutch Great Influenza Survey is an exception to this rule. In the current study, we conducted an online questionnaire (N=1610) to investigate the motivation and learning impact of this loyal, active participant base. Results show that the desire to contribute to a larger (scientific) goal is the most important motivator for all types of participants and that availability of scientific information and data are important for learning. We suggest similar projects seek (social) media attention regularly, linking project findings to current events and including the importance of participants' contribution.

Volume 15 • Issue 01 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part I, 2016

Jan 21, 2016 Article
"We're not going to be guinea pigs;" Citizen Science and Environmental Health in a Native American Community

by Elizabeth Hoover

Determined to learn the extent to which a local contaminated site was impacting community health, the Native American community of Akwesasne reached out to a research university, eventually partnering on the first large-scale environmental health community based participatory research project (CBPR). Based on interviews with scientists, community fieldworkers, and study participants, this article examines the ways in which collaborating on these studies was beneficial for all parties — especially in the context of citizen science goals of education and capacity building — as well as the challenges they faced, including communicating the limits of what scientific studies could accomplish for the community.

Volume 15 • Issue 01 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part I, 2016

Aug 19, 2015 Essay
How to do mass media publicity for a neglected disease. Lessons from Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis in Kenya

by Pamela Olet and Joseph Othieno

The prioritization of neglected diseases in the policy making framework requires heightened advocacy [WHO, 2006]. Mass media positive publicity is among approaches that can be used to achieve this. This paper discusses practical use of mass media to do publicity and advocacy for a neglected disease and its vector. It uniquely presents online links to the analyzed newspaper and television news and opinion articles on tsetse and Trypanosomiasis. The paper shares entry points into mass media advocacy from a lessons learned perspective and notes the importance of understanding how the mass media works in order to achieve advocacy of neglected diseases using sleeping sickness as a case study. 

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

May 07, 2015 Article
The science-media interaction in biomedical research in the Netherlands. Opinions of scientists and journalists on the science-media relationship

by Anne Dijkstra, Maaike M. Roefs and Constance H.C. Drossaert

Scientists’ participation in science communication and public engagement activities is considered important and a duty. However, in particular, the science-media relationship has not been studied frequently. In this paper, we present findings from interviews with both scientists and journalists which were guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior. Results show that different behavioural, normative and control beliefs underlie scientists’ and journalists’ participation in science-media interactions. Both groups are positive about science-media interactions, but scientists perceive various disadvantages in this relationship while journalists perceive mainly practical barriers. Enhancing mutual understanding and further research is suggested.

Volume 14 • Issue 02 • 2015

Sep 22, 2014 Article
Is it my responsibility or theirs? Risk communication about antibiotic resistance in the Swedish daily press

by Gustav Bohlin and Gunnar E. Höst

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing global threat involving many actors, including the general public. We present findings from a content analysis of the coverage of antibiotic resistance in the Swedish print media with respect to the risk communication factors cause, magnitude and countermeasures. The most commonly reported cause of development and spread of resistance was unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. Risk magnitudes were mostly reported qualitatively rather than using quantitative figures. Risk-reduction measures were analyzed using a framework that distinguishes between personal and societal efficacy. Measures at the societal level were more commonly reported compared to the individual level.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

Nov 05, 2013 Article
Combining citizen science and public engagement: the Open AirLaboratories Programme

by Hauke Riesch, Clive Potter and Linda Davies

Citizen Science (or “Public Participation in Scientific Research”), has attracted attention as a new way of engaging the public with science through recruiting them to participate in scientific research. It is often seen as a win-win solution to promoting public engagement to scientists as well as empowering the public and in the process enhancing science literacy. This paper presents a qualitative study of interviews with scientists and communicators who participated in the “OPAL” project, identifying three potential flashpoints where conflicts can (though not necessarily do) arise for those working on citizen science professionally. We find that although participation in the CS project was generally valued, it does not seem to overcome continuing (and widely reported) concerns about public engagement. We suggest that enthusiasm for win-win situations should be replaced with more realistic expectations about what scientists can expect to get out of CS-style public engagement.

Volume 12 • Issue 3 • 2013

Nov 13, 2012 Article
Towards delivering e-health education using Public Internet Terminals (PIT) systems in rural communities in South Africa

by Alfred Coleman

This paper investigated the potential of the Public Internet Terminal (PIT) system to promote basic health education for two rural communities in the North West Province of South Africa. A case study approach was used. Participants were selected from a population group of teachers, nurses, business people and  students in the two communities. Observation, group interviews and questionnaire were used to gather evidence from the participants regarding their  operational difficulties, social/economic difficulties and perceived usefulness of using the PIT system for basic health education. The findings revealed that a high number of participants could not operate the PIT system to search for relevant health information. Participants cited reasons of information overload and slow response of the PIT system. Further findings revealed that many participants lack awareness of the PIT services in these post offices. Participants  indicated that the PIT system lacks local content specific information such as healthcare information on vaccination, personal hygiene, nutrition and pharmacies around their vicinities. The results from this study led to the recommendations which emphasized the incorporation of basic e-health education portal into the existing services on the PIT system and proposed a new user interface for the PIT.

Volume 11 • Issue 04 • 2012

Jun 21, 2012 Article
A step-by-step approach for science communication practitioners: a design perspective

by Maarten van der Sanden and Frans J. Meijman

Science communication processes are complex and uncertain. Designing and managing these processes using a step-by-step approach, allows those with science communication responsibility to manoeuvre between moral or normative issues, practical experiences, empirical data and theoretical foundations. The tool described in this study is an evidence-based questionnaire, tested in practice for feasibility. The key element of this decision aid is a challenge to the science communication practitioners to reflect on their attitudes, knowledge, reasoning and decision-making in a step-by-step manner to question the aim, function and impact of each issue and attendant communication process or strategy. This approach eventually leads to more professional science communication processes by systematic design. The Design-Based Research (DBR) derived from science education and applied in this study, may form a new methodology for further exploration of the gap between theory and practice in science communication and. Practitioners, scholars, and researchers all participate actively in DBR.

Volume 11 • Issue 02 • 2012

Mar 02, 2010 Article
The public production and sharing of medical information. An Australian perspective

by Henry C.H. Ko

There is a wealth of medical information now available to the public through various sources that are not necessarily controlled by medical or healthcare professionals. In Australia there has been a strong movement in the health consumer arena of consumer-led sharing and production of medical information and in healthcare decision-making. This has led to empowerment of the public as well as increased knowledge-sharing. There are some successful initiatives and strategies on consumer- and public-led sharing of medical information, including the formation of specialised consumer groups, independent medical information organisations, consumer peer tutoring, and email lists and consumer networking events. With well-organised public initiatives and networks, there tends to be fairly balanced information being shared. However, there needs to be caution about the use of publicly available scientific information to further the agenda of special-interest groups and lobbying groups to advance often biased and unproven opinions or for scaremongering. With the adoption of more accountability of medical research, and the increased public scrutiny of private and public research, the validity and quality of medical information reaching the public is achieving higher standards.

Volume 9 • Issue 01 • 2010 • Special Issue

Dec 21, 2005 Editorial
Pandemic: how to avoid panic?

by Pietro Greco

The tsunami that took place on 26th December 2004 in the Indian Ocean and hurricane Katrina, that last August struck the Mexican Gulf, are two recent natural events that turned into catastrophes for mankind, causing several thousands victims. One of the reasons behind this can be traced back to the fact that useful information in the hands of scientists and experts did not reach the right people within the right time. A crushing defeat for risk communication was witnessed in these two recent events. All the more paradoxical since we live in what we like to name “the era of communication and information”.

Volume 4 • Issue 04 • 2005