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Feb 08, 2024 Article
"That's some positive energy": how social media users respond to #funny science content

by Michael A. Cacciatore, Sara K. Yeo, Leona Yi-Fan Su, Meaghan McKasy, Liane O'Neill and Sijia Qian

Many scientists make use of social media and take various approaches to humor in their posts to encourage online public engagement, yet little is known about how publics respond to particular types of online science humor. This study investigates the behavioral effects of the presence of different types of science humor, specifically anthropomorphism, wordplay, and the two combined, shared by a scientist on Twitter. Individuals who experienced higher levels of mirth after exposure to humorous science content were more likely to leave a comment on the social media post. Additionally, individuals' need for cognition moderated the relationship between humor exposure and mirth, as well as the relationship between mirth and leaving a comment. These results and future research are discussed.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Feb 05, 2024 Article
A comparative study of frames and narratives identified within scientific press releases on ocean climate change and ocean plastic

by Aike N. Vonk, Mark Bos, Ionica Smeets and Erik van Sebille

To understand how scientific institutions communicate about ocean climate change and ocean plastic research, 323 press releases published between 2017 and 2022 were analyzed. A clustering method revealed 4 ocean climate change and 5 ocean plastic frames that were analyzed qualitatively. Ocean plastic was presented as a biological and health issue, placing an emphasis on solutions and society's obligation to implement them. Ocean climate change was framed as environmental and socio-economic problem, highlighting politics' responsibility for mitigation. Narratives were only used to personify science and represent scientists, indicating that future press releases could include more social dimensions to engage audiences in ocean issues.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Jan 15, 2024 Editorial
Welcome to 2024: issues and trends occupying JCOM this year

by Michelle Riedlinger

As we usher in 2024, we highlight some of the issues and trends that are occupying JCOM, and the fields of science communication and academic publishing more generally.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Dec 11, 2023 Article
Training researchers and planning science communication and dissemination activities: testing the QUEST model in practice and theory

by Ebe Pilt and Marju Himma-Kadakas

This study tests the potential of using the QUEST model in science communication teaching and applying the model in planning communication and dissemination (C&D) activities for research applications. Based on the training analysis, we reason that the QUEST model provides relevant criteria for understanding the function of science communication. We argue that the QUEST indicators create a theoretical foundation that can be applied in science communication courses at different levels of higher education. However, the model functions better as a supportive tool for reasoning and perceiving communication activities. The qualitative analysis of research applications' C&D activities indicates the applicability of the QUEST model for analysing C&D activities, and single indicators of the model are evident in most of the conducted activities. In the theoretical framework, we look at the dependence of the quality of science communication on general trends: the functioning of deficit and dialogical or deliberative communication models in contemporary society and in the context of mediatisation.

Volume 22 • Issue 06 • 2023 • Special Issue: Science communication in higher education: global perspectives on the teaching of science communication

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 09, 2023 Essay
A critical perspective on the mediatization of brain imaging and healthy ageing

by Najmeh Khalili-Mahani and Eugene Loos

Since the invention of functional brain imaging in the early 1990s, this instrumentally and computationally expensive methodology has captured our interests in visualizing the working mind, especially that of super-ageing brains. Because neuroimaging research is costly, various communication strategies are deployed to increase its visibility and fundraising success. Through a historical perspective on the representation of healthy ageing in the media, we examine the methods of communication (media logic) and the cultural interdependencies between media, research institutions, and health funding politics (mediatization), which magnify the profile of brain imaging in advancing the science of healthy ageing. Examples of hyped messaging about healthy-ageing brains underline the risk of visual ageism — a prejudiced and stereotypical view of what a good or bad older brain looks like. We argue that hyped mediatization can alienate older adults from participating in a line of research that might stigmatize them.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Oct 02, 2023 Article
Not here, not now, not me: how distant are climate futures represented in journalistic reporting across four countries?

by Lars Guenther and Michael Brüggemann

Among the reasons why climate change is not a major cause for concern for some members of the public is its psychological distance. Since journalistic media are important sources of information about climate change, this article analyzed how distant climate futures are portrayed in journalistic media across four countries (Germany, India, South Africa, and the United States; n=1,010). Findings show that there are only few differences across countries; representations of distance rather varied with the type of climate future scenario portrayed. The most frequent scenarios in journalistic reporting were distant — especially regarding the temporal, spatial, and social dimensions.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 25, 2023 Practice Insight
How European journalists cover marine issues

by Bruno Pinto and Ana Matias

Keeping citizens informed about the sea is important because it can motivate collective actions to address threats to coastal and marine sustainability. In this article, we wondered how European science and environmental journalists cover marine issues in the print media. We conducted 26 interviews with press journalists in 13 European countries and asked about topics, triggers, and sources to write marine-related news. We found that climate change, marine pollution, and biodiversity are the most important issues and that good working relationships with both scientists and NGOs are key for this media coverage.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 11, 2023 Article
Tools to communicate science: looking for an effective video abstract in Ecology and Environmental Sciences

by Miguel Ferreira, António Granado, Betina Lopes and João Loureiro

Video abstracts, filmed versions of scientific written abstracts, are an exciting trend in the world of online science videos, but, to date, the classification, conception and reception of these videos still need to be explored. This study aims to identify the most and least valued features, exploring future guidelines for producing an effective video abstract. For this purpose, 30 science video experts watched 21 video abstracts and filled out a questionnaire. Content analysis showed that video abstracts in Ecology and Environmental Sciences should be short, clear, objective, creative, dynamic and informative, mixing impactful live images with animation.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Aug 07, 2023 Article
"It's my job": a qualitative study of the mediatization of science within the scientist-journalist relationship

by Laura L. Moorhead, Alice Fleerackers and Lauren Maggio

Through 19 interviews with scientists, this study examines scientists' use of media logic and their relationships with journalists using research as the focal point. The authors identified that the scientists shared a basic understanding of media logic classified in three patterns. Two patterns were previously identified by Olesk: 1) adaption (ability to explain research in a simple, engaging fashion but with a reactive approach to journalist interaction) and 2) adoption (proactively create and manage media interactions for strategic aims through a more active use of media logic). The other emerged as a new, third pattern, affiliation (enthusiastic contributors to journalists' production practices and desire to engage in public outreach).

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023