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Filter by keyword: Science communication in the developing world

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Feb 12, 2024 Essay
Polio vaccine misinformation on social media: challenges, efforts, and recommendations

by Muhammad Ittefaq, Shafiq Ahmad Kamboh, Carina M. Zelaya and Rauf Arif

On April 22, 2019, false rumors regarding the side effects of the polio vaccine quickly spread across various social media platforms, including Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), WhatsApp, and YouTube. This rapid spread of misinformation had a detrimental impact on Pakistan's efforts to eradicate polio. This essay sheds lights on two critical aspects related to polio vaccine misinformation on social media in Pakistan. First, it examines the current state of polio vaccine misinformation on social media and finds it a significant threat to public health, resulting in vaccine refusals, erosion of trust in public health institutions, distrust in science, and providing opportunities for anti-vaccination groups and individual advocates to target healthcare workers involved in polio eradication efforts nationwide. Second, it highlights the collaborative initiatives undertaken by relevant government institutions and social media companies, which have proven inadequate in effectively addressing the persistent dissemination of mis/disinformation, particularly on Facebook. Lastly, we suggest Pakistan should adopt a more inclusive approach of engaging all stakeholders, promote independent fact-checking initiatives, and increase health literacy among the target population about the risks and benefits associated with the polio vaccine.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Jan 25, 2024 Conference Review
Reimagining science communication in the age of AI

by Lourdes López-Pérez

This review analyses the presentation of “Campus Gutenberg Museo de la Ciencia CosmoCaixa 2023” held in September 2023 in Barcelona and reflects on the connection of the event with the necessary redefinition of the social communication of science in the face of the impact of artificial intelligence.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Nov 27, 2023 Article
Science communication practices and trust in information sources amongst Nigerian scientists and journalists

by Emma Weitkamp, Ruth Larbey, Mahmoud Bukar Maina, Katy Petherick, Mustapha Shehu Muhammad, Abdullahi Tsanni, Xinyang Hong and Abdulhamid Al-Gazali

Relatively few studies have explored the communication practices of researchers and journalists working in African contexts. We set out to explore the communication activities undertaken by Nigerian health researchers and journalists, their motivations and the barriers they face in communicating about health topics with lay audiences, as well as their trust in a range of sources of scientific information. The study adopted a survey methodology, recruiting 69 participants at a communications training workshop for both health researchers and journalists. We found high levels of participation in research communication amongst health researchers compared with previous work. While many barriers are similar to those faced by researchers in other contexts, our respondents highlighted that lack of support from managers is a significant hurdle, which has not been highlighted in other studies. Both journalists and researchers primarily communicate science with the aim of educating, informing, entertaining or inspiring their audiences. Regarding trust, both researchers and journalists broadly trust sources linked to science, such as academic journals. However, trust in industry, NGOs and other media was higher amongst journalists than health researchers. Least trust was invested in social media sources, with the exception of material posted on accounts linked to universities.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Oct 23, 2023 Practice Insight
Towards inclusive PE for science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and opportunities

by Konosoang Sobane, Elizabeth Lubinga and Karabo Sitto-Kaunda

Inclusive public engagement (PE), an approach that recognizes the plurality of gender identities, is crucial for science reach, uptake, and impact. This study explored the PE activities of 15 science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify existing practices, their strengths, and barriers to inclusive PE practices. Key informant interviews were used to elicit data, with additional data collected through a digital audit of the 15 councils. The study established that SGC activities demonstrate relatively good alignment with their PE mandate. Initiatives have been developed and implemented, although there are areas that need strengthening. Some of the key areas that need strengthening are the lack of commitment to multilingual knowledge transfer using local languages; the explicit inclusion of women in policies and programs, the diversification of engagement platforms and tools to address the urban-rural divide and the digital divide.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Aug 21, 2023 Essay
Looking back to launch forward: a self-reflexive approach to decolonising science education and communication in Africa

by Temilade Sesan and Ayodele Ibiyemi

The imbalance in the global scientific landscape resulting from the enduring legacy of colonialism in the south and the hegemony of scientific paradigms originating in the north is immense. Our paper makes a case for employing traditional knowledge systems and paradigms as tools for redressing this imbalance in African societies. To achieve this goal, the paper argues, scholars and science communicators must actively pursue a radical, “power-literate” agenda of scientific decolonisation on the continent. Central to this mission is the need for scholars to be equipped with a keen sense of the past — including an understanding of what worked for knowledge production and perpetuation in pre-colonial African societies — without which science education and communication in those societies will remain untethered from the realities of the present and their visions for the future. Concurrently, attention must be given to nurturing home-grown paradigms and platforms for research in higher education that are rigorous yet unencumbered by the age-long tendency to refract African experiences through northern lenses.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Aug 21, 2023 Essay
Response to: “Looking back to launch forward: a self-reflexive approach to decolonising science education and communication in Africa”. Recognizing and validating multiple knowledge ecologies

by Fabien Medvecky, Jennifer Metcalfe and Michelle Riedlinger

This is a response to Sesan and Ibiyemi's essay [2023], which rightly urges “scholars and science communicators” to resist the colonial legacy of science in African countries. The essay argues that northern paradigms, focused on science as the only true form of knowledge, need to be replaced with functional Indigenous knowledge systems. However, the authors adopt the framework of the global north when reimagining and advocating for a radical ‘power literate’ agenda thus confounding knowledge with science, and education with science communication. These approaches obscure the fundamental importance of reimagining power dynamics in a world of multiple epistemologies. Instead, we propose that ‘knowledge communicators’ facilitate a multi-knowledge world through participatory processes.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jul 31, 2023 Article
Besieged from all sides: impediments to science journalism in a developing country and their global implications

by Minh Tran and An Nguyen

Despite high expectations of their normative roles in development processes, Vietnamese science journalists interviewed for this research essay find it extrememly hard to enact such roles, facing an uphill battle to establish science as a legitimate news beat. This results from a diverse set of internal impediments (particularly a science-unfriendly news culture and low ethical standards) and external obstacles, including political control and low cooperation of local scientists. Placing these findings in the wider context, we demonstrate that Vietnam illuminates many troublesome characteristics of science journalism in the Global South and make some recommendations for improving the status quo.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jun 28, 2023 Editorial
Reflecting and Renewing to Strengthen JCOM

by Michelle Riedlinger and Marina Joubert

During June 2023, we met with the JCOM editorial board members to reflect on the current status of the journal and strategies for future growth. This editorial provides a snapshot of our position and plans.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Dec 19, 2022 Article
Debunking strategies for misleading bar charts

by Winnifred Wijnker, Ionica Smeets, Peter Burger and Sanne Willems

Graphs are useful to communicate concisely about complex issues. Although they facilitate intuitive reading of data, trends, and predictions, hasty readers may still come to the wrong conclusions, especially if graphs are misleading due to violated design conventions. To provide evidence about how to prevent misinformation from spreading by misleading graphs, this two-survey experimental study investigates the effectiveness of four correction methods as debunking strategies to correct bar charts with manipulated vertical axes. All four methods showed positive effects. The most effective one is aimed at correcting the initial image by presenting an accurate alternative graph. A reduced effect remained visible after one week.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Nov 07, 2022 Commentary
Research in science communication in Latin America: mind the gap

by Luisa Massarani and Thaiane de Oliveira

In this commentary, we discuss the challenges associated with carrying out research in science communication in Latin America. We start with the ‘‘invisibility’’ of Latin American studies in the three most prominent international journals in the field (although there has been a growing number of studies in the region). Then, we look to the recent popularisation of science through social media, the political issues facing the region and the massive spread of disinformation and fake news, which has been widely accentuated by the pandemic. We argue that there is an urgent need but also opportunities for innovation and collaborative research in science communication. Finally, we call attention to how the present situation might lead to bigger gaps among researchers from the developing world, including Latin America, and the so-called developed world.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022