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Dec 14, 2020 Practice Insight
Manga-based risk communication for the COVID-19 pandemic: a case study of storytelling that incorporates a cultural context

by Yasumasa Igarashi, Nozomi Mizushima and Hiromi M. Yokoyama

This article is about manga-based messaging for risk communication on COVID-19, describing the practice of collaboration between a group of experts and a popular manga artist. Collaborative storytelling through popular manga provides an effective discussion platform for diverse experts in various specialties, ages, and genders to discuss a topic in a short time. These “stories” can integrate social meaning, legitimacy, and a local context into scientific messages. They also provide the public with a deeper understanding of the messages through the characters and their “real-life” situations, as long as the messages remain consistent with the worldview of the original work.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

Dec 14, 2020 Article
COVID-19 crisis memes, rhetorical arena theory and multimodality

by Rick Pulos

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced the name of a new disease, COVID-19. As the virus that causes the disease spread across the globe, the world went into crisis mode. The various actors of the COVID-19 crisis include, in part, politicians, scientists, health experts, citizens, journalists, front line workers, first responders, organizations, and so on. Their voices and their related communicative processes play out in the rhetorical arena that emerges from the crisis. Crisis memes are a particularly intriguing and salient part of the COVID-19 public discourse. Combining the theoretical implications of rhetorical arena theory (RAT) with multimodality and its close ties to social semiotics, this paper will analyze the unique nature of memes created during the cycle of a crisis.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

Dec 14, 2020 Article
Spikey blobs with evil grins: understanding portrayals of the coronavirus in South African newspaper cartoons in relation to the public communication of science

by Marina Joubert and Herman Wasserman

This study explores how South African newspaper cartoonists portrayed the novel coronavirus during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We show how these cartoons respond to the socio-economic and cultural contexts in the country. Our analysis of how cartoonists represent the novel coronavirus explain how they create meaning (and may influence public sentiments) using colour, morphological characteristics and anthropomorphism as visual rhetorical tools. From a total population of 497 COVID-19-related cartoons published in 15 print and online newspapers from 1 January to 31 May 2020, almost a quarter (24%; n=120) included an illustration of the coronavirus. Viruses were typically coloured green or red and attributed with human characteristics (most often evil-looking facial expressions) and with exaggerated, spikey stalks surrounding the virus body. Anthropomorphism was present in more than half of the 120 cartoons where the virus was illustrated (58%; n=70), while fear was the dominant emotional tone of the cartoons. Based on our analysis, we argue that editorial cartoons provide a useful source to help us understand the broader discursive context within which public communication of science operates during a pandemic.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Practice Insight
Complexity, transparency and time pressure: practical insights into science communication in times of crisis

by Jana Lasser, Verena Ahne, Georg Heiler, Peter Klimek, Hannah Metzler, Tobias Reisch, Martin Sprenger, Stefan Thurner and Johannes Sorger

A global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic that started in early 2020 poses significant challenges for how research is conducted and communicated. We present four case studies from the perspective of an interdisciplinary research institution that switched to “corona-mode” during the first two months of the crisis, focussing all its capacities on COVID-19-related issues, communicating to the public directly and via media, as well as actively advising the national government. The case studies highlight the challenges posed by the increased time pressure, high demand for transparency, and communication of complexity and uncertainty. The article gives insights into how these challenges were addressed in our research institution and how science communication in general can be managed during a crisis.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Oct 14, 2019 Article
Students as storytellers: mobile-filmmaking to improve student engagement in school science

by Kaitlyn Martin, Lloyd Davis and Susan Sandretto

Student engagement is an important predictor of choosing science-related careers and establishing a scientifically literate society: and, worryingly, it is on the decline internationally. Conceptions of science are strongly affected by school experience, so one strategy is to bring successful science communication strategies to the classroom. Through a project creating short science films on mobile devices, students' engagement greatly increased through collaborative learning and the storytelling process. Teachers were also able to achieve cross-curricular goals between science, technology, and literacy. We argue that empowering adolescents as storytellers, rather than storylisteners, is an effective method to increase engagement with science.

Volume 18 • Issue 05 • 2019 • Special Issue: Stories in Science Communication, 2019

Oct 14, 2019 Article
The power of storytelling and video: a visual rhetoric for science communication

by Wiebke Finkler and Bienvenido Leon

This research develops a conceptual framework for telling visual stories about science using short-format videos, termed SciCommercial videos, that draw upon marketing communication. The framework is illustrated by an exemplar, the Good Whale Watching video, which is explained using a visual rhetoric keyframe analysis. Finally, the effectiveness of the video is evaluated as a science communication tool using an empirical online survey with 1698 respondents. The results highlight the benefits of using video for storytelling about science by using our framework formula, modified from marketing practices, to produce videos that are Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Science Storytelling (SUCCESS).

Volume 18 • Issue 05 • 2019 • Special Issue: Stories in Science Communication, 2019

Jul 15, 2019 Article
Observing and drawing the Sun: research-based insights to assess science communication practices aimed at children

by Sara Anjos, Alexandre Aibeo and Anabela Carvalho

Knowing how specific publics understand and experience science is crucial for both researchers and practitioners. As learning and meaning-making develop over time, depending on a combination of factors, creative possibilities to analyze those processes are needed to improve evaluation of science communication practices. We examine how first grade children's drawings expressed their perceptions of the Sun and explore their views of a major astronomical body within their social, cultural and personal worlds. We then examine how the observation of the Sun through a telescope led to changes in graphical representations, and how learning and meaning evolved after several months.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Mar 04, 2019 Article
Witnessing glaciers melt: climate change and transmedia storytelling

by Anita Lam and Matthew Tegelberg

The Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) is an exemplary case for examining how to effectively communicate scientific knowledge about climate change to the general public. Using textual and semiotic analysis, this article analyzes how EIS uses photography to produce demonstrative evidence of glacial retreat which, in turn, anchors a transmedia narrative about climate change. As both scientific and visual evidence, photographs have forensic value because they work within a process and narrative of witnessing. Therefore, we argue that the combination of photographic evidence with transmedia storytelling offers an effective approach for future scientific and environmental communication.

Volume 18 • Issue 02 • 2019

Jun 18, 2018 Article
Communicating data: interactive infographics, scientific data and credibility

by Nan Li, Dominique Brossard, Dietram A. Scheufele, Paul H. Wilson and Kathleen M. Rose

Information visualization could be used to leverage the credibility of displayed scientific data. However, little was known about how display characteristics interact with individuals' predispositions to affect perception of data credibility. Using an experiment with 517 participants, we tested perceptions of data credibility by manipulating data visualizations related to the issue of nuclear fuel cycle based on three characteristics: graph format, graph interactivity, and source attribution. Results showed that viewers tend to rely on preexisting levels of trust and peripheral cues, such as source attribution, to judge the credibility of shown data, whereas their comprehension level did not relate to perception of data credibility. We discussed the implications for science communicators and design professionals.

Volume 17 • Issue 02 • 2018

Jan 23, 2018 Essay
The potential of comics in science communication

by Matteo Farinella

Visual narratives, such as comics and animations, are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for science education and communication. Combining the benefits of visualization with powerful metaphors and character-driven narratives, comics have the potential to make scientific subjects more accessible and engaging for a wider audience. While many authors have experimented with this medium, empirical research on the effects of visual narratives in science communication remains scarce. This review summarizes the available evidence across disciplines, highlighting the cognitive mechanisms that may underlie the effects of visual narratives.

Volume 17 • Issue 01 • 2018