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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

Nov 20, 2023 Article
Found a fossil: improving awareness, engagement, and communication strategies for heritage discoveries

by Sally Hurst, Matthew Kosnik, Linda Evans and Glenn A. Brock

Fossils and Indigenous artefacts are often found by members of the general public. To gauge Australian awareness of heritage laws and willingness to report finds, the Found a Fossil project conducted a survey to understand barriers to reporting heritage material. Results showed enthusiasm to report but confusion over appropriate authorities to contact, lack of transparency by government, and poorly communicated legislation created barriers to heritage reporting. This project represents the first attempt to quantify reporting behaviours of Indigenous artefacts and fossils in Australia and recommends improvements for reporting, protection and communication of Australian heritage items and their historical narratives.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 13, 2023 Article
An analysis of science communication about COVID-19 vaccination in Portuguese online news media

by Elaine Santana, Joana Bernardo, Inga Donici, Rúben Valente, Bárbara Pedro, Inês Almeida, Sílvia Silva, Conceição Alegre, Teresa Loureiro and Rosa Silva

This study aimed to analyze the usage of scientific concepts and technical terms related to COVID-19 vaccination in Portuguese online news sources and examine citizens' comprehension of these terms. A retrospective descriptive study was conducted, examining Portuguese news articles about COVID-19 vaccination from November 2021 to January 2022. Scientific terms were extracted from 190 articles, and seven citizens provided identification and brief definitions of familiar terms. Approximately 68% of the news articles involved collaboration with researchers or health professionals. A total of 144 scientific terms were identified in 77% of the articles, with more than half (57.54%) of these terms being unknown or inadequately defined by the citizens consulted.

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 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

Sep 05, 2023 Article
“We are capable and we must not be silent!”: the science-theatre interface as a catalyst for female empowerment

by Gabriela Reznik and Carla Almeida

We aim to understand the audience's theatrical experience of “Cidadela” — a play produced by Museu da Vida Fiocruz — and if/how it encouraged the spectators to reflect on structural sexism, which is its core theme. After analysing 299 questionnaires, we found that the audience recognised the theme as both relevant and topical and they identified and related various scenes to their own lived experiences. The play encouraged the audience to reflect on different dimensions of female empowerment, particularly the psychological and political ones. It is, therefore, worth emphasising the potential of theatre in raising awareness, evoking empathy and inspiring young people to strive for freedom and autonomy, which seems to us fundamental for young women to get closer to science and increasingly identify themselves with it.

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

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

Jul 17, 2023 Article
Science by means of memes? Meanings of Covid-19 in Brazil based on Instagram posts

by Wilmo Ernesto Francisco Junior, Tereza Cristina Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, Biânca Luiz dos Santos Costa and Rafaella Lima Gomes

This study aimed at analyzing Brazilian memes posted on Instagram about Covid-19, in which scientific concepts were intertwined with the message. The research was based on virtual ethnography and the analysis considered the multimodal structure of memes following principles of the Grammar of Visual Design. Only twelve memes out of a universe of 83 identified (14.5%) presented knowledge about science interdependently with meanings that could be produced. One of the core aspects is the complexity of both representations and scientific concepts in memes about Covid-19. Scientific aspects, humor and irony were associated with social and political criticism through different multimodal interactions.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jul 10, 2023 Article
U.S. adult viewers of information treatments express overall positive views but some concerns about gene editing technology

by Kathryn Stofer, Savanna Turner, Joy N. Rumble, Brandon McFadden, Kevin Folta, Adithi Jeevan, Tracy Ouncap, Kirsten Hecht, Cierra Cummins and Robert Thiel

Gene editing techniques (GET) may add precision and speed to the genetic improvement process. However, some adults remain skeptical. We examined U.S. consumer sentiment and concerns about foods derived from GET following information treatments. Randomly assigned participants viewed either: an industry-based video, a food blogger video, or a written article. We coded sentiment and themes of open-ended survey responses. Most responses were in favor of GET after intervention; the industry video produced the most negative attitudes; and technical benefits, concerns, and effects emerged among themes. Our research will help design engagement to boost consumer understanding of GET risks and benefits.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023