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Mar 20, 2023 Article
Citizen science and participatory science communication: an empirically informed discussion connecting research and theory

by Paolo Giardullo, Federico Neresini, Esther Marín-González, Cristina Luís, Joana Magalhães and Rosa Arias

Citizen Science is believed to contribute significantly to the democratisation of science, engaging non-scientists in scientific research. Participatory approaches to science communication share the same interest through public participation and public engagement. In the attempt to connect these two debates both theoretically and empirically, we provide an analysis of the communication tools and strategies used by 157 Citizen Science projects across the EU, UK, and Switzerland. Our analysis reports that the CS projects surveyed tend to interpret communication as a disseminating activity, rather than as a tool to promote appropriate communication-based encounters with both project participants and other potential target audiences.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Mar 13, 2023 Article
Fictional scenarios, real concerns: science fiction and perceptions of human genome editing

by April A. Eichmeier, Luye Bao, Michael A. Xenos, Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele

This research addresses the association between attention to science fiction and public opinion of human genome editing (HGE). Using a nationally representative survey, our results show that attention to science fiction is associated with both risk and benefit perception of the technology. In addition, results show that, at higher levels of attention to science fiction, the levels of concern from conservatives (ordinarily predisposed to negative views toward science) and from liberals (ordinarily predisposed to positive views toward science) come closer to being the same. This research contributes to our understanding of debates about controversial science.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Feb 20, 2023 Article
“There really is a lot of shared understanding, but there are also differences”: identity configurations in science communicators' professional identity

by Liliann Fischer and Hannah Schmid-Petri

Science communication is a relatively new field of practice, shaped by a diverse group of professional science communicators and the way they make sense of their work. A distinguishing feature of these professional science communicators is the organisational context they work in. Based on a typology from an organisational theory framework, this study explores the perspectives of 15 German science communicators through qualitative interviews. It seems that while they tend to draw on a common set of building blocks, they use them to construct individual professional identity configurations partly influenced by their organisational context.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Feb 08, 2023 Article
Spokespersons for science: examining social media influencers' popularization of controversial technologies on YouTube

by Jiemin Looi and Shirley S. Ho

An online experiment involving 251 Singaporeans assessed how social media influencers' (SMIs) prototypicality (i.e., embodiment of group attitudes) and social attraction affected their popularization of nuclear energy development. Participants exposed to a SMI with high prototypicality perceived the YouTube video more favorably, displayed greater intention to share the YouTube video, and possessed greater attitude intensity toward nuclear energy development. Participants displayed greater intention to share the YouTube video when the SMI had high social attraction and possessed moderate to high prototypicality. Conversely, participants displayed less intention to share the YouTube video when the SMI had low social attraction and prototypicality.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 25, 2023 Article
Science knowledge and trust in science in biodiversity citizen science projects

by Baptiste Bedessem, Anne Dozières, Anne-Caroline Prévot and Romain Julliard

Citizen science projects are valued for their impact on participants' knowledge, attitude and behavior towards science. In this paper, we explore how participation in biodiversity citizen science projects is correlated to different dimensions of trust in science. We conduct a quantitative study through an online survey of 1,199 individuals, 586 of them being part of a biodiversity citizen science program in France. Our results suggest that participation-related trust is more exhaustive — it covers more dimensions of the scientific endeavor — than education-related trust. This exploratory study calls for more empirical research on the links between citizen science and the different dimensions of public trust in science.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 18, 2023 Article
`Pandem-icons' — exploring the characteristics of highly visible scientists during the Covid-19 pandemic

by Marina Joubert, Lars Guenther, Jenni Metcalfe, Michelle Riedlinger, Anwesha Chakraborty, Toss Gascoigne, Bernard Schiele, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Dmitry Malkov, Eliana Fattorini, Gema Revuelta, Germana Barata, Jan Riise, Justin T. Schröder, Maja Horst, Margaret Kaseje, Marnell Kirsten, Martin W. Bauer, Massimiano Bucchi, Natália Flores, Orli Wolfson and Tingjie Chen

The Covid-19 pandemic escalated demand for scientific explanations and guidance, creating opportunities for scientists to become publicly visible. In this study, we compared characteristics of visible scientists during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic (January to December 2020) across 16 countries. We find that the scientists who became visible largely matched socio-cultural criteria that have characterised visible scientists in the past (e.g., age, gender, credibility, public image, involvement in controversies). However, there were limited tendencies that scientists commented outside their areas of expertise. We conclude that the unusual circumstances created by Covid-19 did not change the phenomenon of visible scientists in significant ways.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 16, 2023 Article
Media as mediators in a science-based issue: politics, foreign influence and implications on adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms in food production in Uganda

by Ivan Nathanael Lukanda, Sara Namusoga-Kaale and George Claassen

The paper highlights the feedback loop between media, politics, foreign influence and science in relation to the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food production in Uganda to demonstrate that socio-cultural considerations are important in the GMO science and technology debates. Based on the science-in-society model, the findings from a content analysis of newspaper articles over a four-year period, supplemented by interviews with scientists, activists from non-governmental organisations, journalists, and Members of Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, the study found that food is a politically thick issue. Both activists and scientists opportunistically use the media, the platforms where the public access and contribute content, to appeal to the politicians to legislate GMOs in their favour, arguing that the activists or the scientists' position is in the `public interest'. Often, such coverage produces a paradox for the public by accelerating uncertainty regarding the science and the products of genetic modification, especially when politicians fail to decide for fear of the political implications of their action as is the case in Uganda.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 11, 2023 Article
Politics triumphs: A topic modeling approach for analyzing news media coverage of climate change in Pakistan

by Waqas Ejaz, Muhammad Ittefaq and Sadia Jamil

News media is one of the main sources of information for many people around the world on climate change. It not only increases awareness among the public but also has the potential to sensitize people toward climate change impacts. To date, few studies focus on media coverage of climate change in low-income countries such as Pakistan which is among the top ten countries impacted by global warming. This study used Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modeling and analyzed 7,655 climate change-related news articles published between 2010 and 2021 in three Pakistani English newspapers. Our results suggest that climate change coverage in Pakistan has substantially increased over the years, however, the focus has generally been on “climate politics,” “climate governance and policy,” and “climate change and society.” Evolution of the different themes and their potential impacts on people are discussed.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 09, 2023 Article
An environmental problem in the making: how media logic molds scientific uncertainty in the production of news about artificial turf in Sweden

by Ernesto Abalo and Ulrika Olausson

This study aims to contribute knowledge about how an environmental issue is discursively forged notwithstanding the prevalence of significant scientific uncertainty. This is done by studying the production of news about artificial turf as a microplastic pollutant in Sweden. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 journalists and editors, public officials, politicians, industry representatives and experts, all involved in the issue of artificial turf. The study shows how media logic, among other factors, informs the interpretations of the uncertainties surrounding artificial turf as an environmental problem and concludes that the power of media logic needs to be considered also in the construction of other scientifically charged issues.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 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