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Aug 17, 2020 Article
Listen to the audience(s)! Expectations and characteristics of expert debate attendants

by Nina Wicke and Monika Taddicken

Expert debates have become a popular form to inform the public about scientific issues. To deepen our knowledge about individuals who attend such formats and to investigate what they expect of the dissemination of science, this study analyzes the attendants of scientific expert debates and their expectations. Cluster analysis is applied to survey data (n=358) to explore whether distinct segments may be distinguishable within this supposedly homogeneous audience. Four different segments were identified and, overall, the findings indicate that attendants expect science communication to not only present scientific findings comprehensibly and from different perspectives, but also to create everyday life applicability, whereas interacting with scientists is of less interest.

Volume 19 • Issue 04 • 2020

Jun 29, 2020 Book Review
A comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to science communication

by Erik Stengler

A comprehensive treatise on science communication from the perspectives of scholars of multiple disciplines, this book contributes a unique compendium of virtually all fields of study that have something to say about the theory and practice of public engagement with science. It is an enriching companion for research, teaching and practice of science communication in all its forms.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

Jun 16, 2020 Commentary
The communication of scientific research in news media: Contemporary challenges and opportunities

by Georgia Dempster

This commentary is based on a talk that was presented during the Australian Science Communicators Conference in February 2020. As a Ph.D. student, my research is focused on the investigation of methods of communicating science to public audiences. Within science communication, this talk discussed a case study that was completed as part of my Ph.D. This commentary details a review of a portion of the literature that I completed for my Ph.D. related to the misreporting of scientific research in news media. This review of the literature is relevant to the contemporary environment of scientific research reported in news media. I conclude by suggesting that given the challenging science and news media landscapes; scientists, science communicators and journalists must work more effectively together to uphold the integrity of their professions and to ensure that scientific research is more accurately reported in news media. Additionally, I argue that more research is needed that seeks to understand the relationships between scientists, science communicators and journalists to enable more effective working relationships between these professionals.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

Jun 16, 2020 Commentary
Lessons from Laos: selecting appropriate communication media for context

by Wesley Ward

Current agricultural research depends on complex contexts that can impose major barriers for communication within geographically dispersed research teams. Such barriers are multiplied where team members originate from and operate in contrasting cultures and economic circumstances. A case study based in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) showed how to identify such barriers between Lao and Australian scientists using transcripts of 30 interviews with these groups. These were analysed using grounded theory analysis to identify these barriers which were operationalised to construct an assessment tool — I-CHET. This tool was subsequently applied to nine online communication technologies used by the interviewees to identify the technology that displayed the fewest problems regarding these barriers — email, and those with the most problems — websites and Skype. The study highlighted the complexity of communication barriers for international research teams, beyond economic and online infrastructural constraints, to include individual and cultural differences as well as language. By addressing these differences, project managers and funding agencies can maximise the benefits from research completed by international teams that provide vital agricultural knowledge and methodologies for many developing countries worldwide.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

Jun 01, 2020 Article
Post-normal science communication: exploring the blurring boundaries of science and journalism

by Michael Brüggemann, Ines Lörcher and Stefanie Walter

This article provides a framework for analysing changes and continuities in science communication. The field is challenged by three contexts: (1) ‘post-normal situations’ of coping with uncertainties, value questions, an urgency to take action, and associated political pressures; (2) a dramatically changing media environment, and (3) a polarizing discourse culture. We refine the concept of post-normal science to make it more applicable to analyse public science communication in an era of digital media networks. Focussing on changes in the interactions between scientists and journalists, we identify two ideal types: normal and post-normal science communication, and conclude that the boundaries of science and journalism are blurring and under renegotiation. Scientists and journalists develop new shared role models, norms, and practices. Both groups are increasingly acting as advocates for common goods that emphasize the emerging norms of post-normal science communication: transparency, interpretation, advocacy and participation.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

May 11, 2020 Book Review
A textbook linking theory, research, and practice of science communication

by Lars Guenther

This book review will discuss “Science communication. An introduction”, edited by Frans van Dam, Liesbeth de Bakker, Anne Dijkstra, and Eric Jensen (2020), the first book in the PCST book series. The review will give an overview, a summary, and a criticism of this textbook, which is intended to be used in educational programs in science communication. As will be outlined, the book puts specific emphasis on linking theory, research, and practice, as well as including more perspectives from developing country contexts, and thus provides a valuable contribution to the dynamic field of science communication.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

May 04, 2020 Letter
Pseudoscience as media effect

by Alexandre Schiele

The popularity of the anti-vax movement in the United States and elsewhere is the cause of new lethal epidemics of diseases that are fully preventable by modern medicine [Benecke and DeYoung, 2019]. Creationism creeps into science classrooms with the aim of undermining the teaching of evolution through legal obligations or school boards’ decisions to present both sides of a debate largely foreign to the scientific community [Taylor, 2017]. And one simply has to turn on the TV and watch so-called science channels to be bombarded with aliens, ghosts, cryptids and miracles as though they are undisputable facts [Prothero, 2012]. Deprecated by its detractors, scientific proof is assimilated to become one opinion among others, if not a mere speculation. Worse, scientific data that challenge partisan positions or economic interests are dismissed as ‘junk science’ and their proponents as ‘shills’ [Oreskes and Conway, 2010]. By echoing such statements, some members of the media, often willing accomplices in conflating denial and scepticism, amplify manufactured controversies and cast growing doubt upon scientific credibility.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Apr 06, 2020 Article
Variability in the interpretation of probability phrases used in Dutch news articles — a risk for miscommunication

by Sanne Willems, Casper Albers and Ionica Smeets

Verbal probability phrases are often used in science communication to express estimated risks in words instead of numbers. In this study we look at how laypeople and statisticians interpret Dutch probability phrases that are regularly used in news articles. We found that there is a large variability in interpretations, even if the phrases are given in a neutral context. Also, statisticians do not agree on the interpretation of the phrases. We conclude that science communicators should be careful in using verbal probability expressions.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Dec 16, 2019 Article
Invisible brokers: “citizen science” on Twitter

by Elise Tancoigne

Who speaks for “citizen science” on Twitter? Which territory of citizen science have they made visible so far? This paper offers the first description of the community of users who dedicate their online social media identity to citizen science. It shows that Twitter users who identify with the term “citizen science” are mostly U.S. science professionals in environmental sciences, and rarely projects' participants. In contrast to the original concept of “citizen science”, defined as a direct relationship between scientists and lay participants, this paper makes visible a third category of individual actors, mostly women, who connect these lay participants and scientists: the “citizen science broker”.

Volume 18 • Issue 06 • 2019

Dec 02, 2019 Article
Voices in health communication — experts and expert-roles in the German news coverage of multi resistant pathogens

by Matthias Wagner, Gwendolin Gurr and Miriam Siemon

When it comes to complex topics in the field of health and risk communication, experts are of high importance for the credibility of a news media report. This paper examines the use of experts and their roles in the news media coverage of multi-resistant pathogens by means of a quantitative content analysis of German print and online news. A cluster analysis of the expert statements identifies three different statement frames describing different expert roles. The results show manifest patterns of selected expert sources, which points to professionalized mechanisms of selecting expert sources for news media reports.

Volume 18 • Issue 06 • 2019