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Apr 15, 2024 Article
Citizen science and learning outcomes: assessment of projects in South Africa

by Nonsikelelo Sackey, Corlia Meyer and Peter Weingart

This study assessed educational goals and learning outcomes in 57 citizen science projects in South Africa. Emphasising data collection as the primary objective, the findings revealed a secondary focus on environmental awareness, protection, and management, as well as education and research advancement. Notably, educational goals were often not prioritised, and formal measures for assessing learning outcomes were infrequently employed by project leaders. The study underscores the necessity for systematic approaches to evaluate the educational impacts of citizen science projects in South Africa.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

Apr 08, 2024 Article
Effects of message frames and visual cues on cell-cultured meat communication: sensation seeking as a moderator

by Namyeon Lee and Sungkyoung Lee

Cell-cultured meat presents environmental and ethical advantages; however, negative public acceptance remains a significant hurdle. To generate more effective public engagement on this topic, we conducted two online experiments exploring the impact of message framing and food cues (Experiment 1) and the moderating role of an individual's personality trait, sensation seeking, (Experiment 2) on the perception of cultured meat news shared via social media. Our findings revealed that messages employing individual benefit-framing, as opposed to societal benefit-framing, resulted in more positive perceptions of cultured meat. Incorporating direct food cues in the communication led to reduced risk perception, a more favorable attitude, and increased intention to purchase cultured meat. Furthermore, sensation seeking was shown to be a significant moderator for the effects of the message features. Theoretical and practical contributions are discussed.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

Mar 25, 2024 Article
Science Communication as a Human Right

by Gabriela Frías-Villegas, Kathia Elisa García-Gómez, Alejandro Guzmán-Vendrell, Irvin Alberto Mendoza-Hernández, Ricardo Tránsito-Santos and Fabiola Vázquez-Quiroz

This work discusses four practical science communication cases in which we worked with communities from different parts of Mexico in vulnerable situations. We analyze those cases from an interdisciplinary point of view, emphasizing the observation of human rights to propose a new inclusive definition of science communication and new strategies for engaging in horizontal dialogues with cultural groups. This perspective demands a change in methodological procedures, such as performing anthropological work and the co-creation of projects and materials together with all the members of the communities involved. We also propose using novel strategies to reach communities in vulnerable situations.

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2024 • Special Issue: Connecting science communication research and practice: challenges and ways forward

Mar 18, 2024 Article
Race-evasive ideology in U.S.-based science communication fellowship director discourse

by Nic Bennett, Anthony Dudo, John Besley and Yasmiyn Irizarry

A critical examination of science communication training programs may uncover barriers to cultivating inclusive, equitable, and just science communication spaces. In this study, we analyzed science communication fellowship director's discourse for evidence of race-evasive ideology — language that avoids talk of race and justifies current racial inequity as the outcome of nonracial processes [Bonilla-Silva, 2006]. We found the four frames of race-evasive ideology (minimization, abstract liberalism, cultural racism, and naturalization) pervasive in interviews with science communication fellowship directors. We discuss how these findings might explain why structural racism persists in science communication organizations despite their directors' best intentions.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Mar 11, 2024 Article
Science communication objectives and actual practices of science news websites as a showcase for gaps between theory and practice

by Ifat Zimmerman, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari and Tali Tal

This study contributes to the growing body of science communication research showing gaps between theory and practice objectives, focusing on one particular understudied and emerging science communication innovation.The objectives and practices of four Israeli science news websites were analyzed considering three science communication models: “Dissemination”, “Dialogue”, and “Participation.” Using concurrent parallel mixed methods, we examined the perspectives of website administrators (n=8) and readers (n=20) through interviews, a content analysis of news items (n=298), discussion threads (n=507), and reader questionnaires (n=89). Findings indicate limited adoption of two-way communication about how science is applied in society. The scant implementation of the dialogue model suggests its promises are not concretized in practice on these science news websites.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Mar 04, 2024 Article
Science fiction media representations of exoplanets: portrayals of changing astronomical discoveries

by Emma Johanna Puranen, Emily Finer, Christiane Helling and V. Anne Smith

Interest in science fiction's (SF's) potential science communication use is hindered by concerns about SF misrepresenting science. This study addresses these concerns by asking how SF media reflects scientific findings in exoplanet science. A database of SF exoplanets was analysed using a Bayesian network to find interconnected interactions between planetary characterisation features and literary data. Results reveal SF exoplanets designed after the discovery of real exoplanets are less Earth-like, providing statistical evidence that SF incorporates rapidly-evolving science. Understanding SF's portrayal of science is crucial for its potential use in science communication.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Feb 28, 2024 Article
#WomenInSTEM: exploring self-presentation of identity on Instagram

by Jocelyn Steinke, Amanda Coletti and Christine Gilbert

Despite prior research on portrayals of women in STEM in traditional media, fewer studies have considered portrayals on social media. This content analysis of Instagram posts (N=300) examined how individuals using the hashtag #WomenInSTEM presented their gender identity, STEM identity, and other social identities through digital self-portraits, selfies, and associated text. Results showed that those associating with this hashtag community primarily presented: 1) counter-gender-stereotyped portrayals, but occasionally reflected gender stereotypes in subtle ways; 2) STEM identity portrayals, mostly focused on self-recognition; and 3) self-promotional and lifestyle portrayals. Findings advance understanding of identity presentation and negotiation for individuals associating with the hashtag #WomenInSTEM through portrayals presented on Instagram. Implications for the use of social media to promote equity in STEM through outreach programs that feature women STEM role models are discussed.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

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

Dec 11, 2023 Article
The distribution of science communication teaching around the globe

by Luisa Massarani, Heather Bray, Marina Joubert, Andy Ridgway, Joseph Roche, Fiona Smyth, Elizabeth Stevenson, Frans van Dam and Willian Vieira de Abreu

In the context of a special issue of this journal focused on teaching science communication, we present a map of the geographical distribution of 122 science communication teaching programmes from 31 countries around the world. This mapping study resulted from a collaboration between members of the PCST Teaching Forum and the research team at GlobalSCAPE, a research project funded by the European Commission to explore the global state of science communication. Our findings highlight the concentration of these programmes in the U.S.A. and Europe, and the dominance of English as the language of instruction. We ponder the causes and implications of the disparities in opportunities for studying science communication in other world regions and languages. The dearth of science communication educational pathways in developing countries may limit the professionalisation of the field, as well as research and evidence-based practice that is locally needed and relevant.

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