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Jun 21, 2021 Article
Providing health information via Twitter: professional background and message style influence source trustworthiness, message credibility and behavioral intentions

by Lars König and Priska Breves

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global community, politicians as well as scientists increasingly turn to Twitter to share urgent health information using various message styles. The results of our 2x2 between-subject experiment show that if a Tweet is written in lower-case letters, participants perceive the information source as more trustworthy. Furthermore, the information is perceived as more credible, and people are more willing to read the health information and share it via social media. Furthermore, scientists are perceived as possessing more expertise than politicians. However, politicians are perceived as possessing more integrity and benevolence than scientists.

Volume 20 • Issue 04 • 2021

Jun 14, 2021 Article
Step by step towards citizen science — deconstructing youth participation in BioBlitzes

by Julia Lorke, Heidi L. Ballard, Annie E. Miller, Rebecca D. Swanson, Sasha Pratt-Taweh, Jessie N. Jennewein, Lila Higgins, Rebecca F. Johnson, Alison N. Young, Maryam Ghadiri Khanaposhtani and Lucy D. Robinson

BioBlitzes, typically one-day citizen science (CS) events, provide opportunities for the public to participate in data collection for research and conservation, potentially promoting deeper engagement with science. We observed 81 youth at 15 BioBlitzes in the U.S. and U.K., identifying five steps participants use to create a biological record (Exploring, Observing, Identifying, Documenting and Recording). We found 67 youth engaged in at least one of the steps, but seldom in all, with rare participation in Recording which is crucial for contributing data to CS. These findings suggest BioBlitzes should reduce barriers to Recording for youth to increase engagement with science.

Volume 20 • Issue 04 • 2021

Jun 07, 2021 Article
Undifferentiated optimism and scandalized accidents: the media coverage of autonomous driving in Germany

by Lena Jelinski, Katrin Etzrodt and Sven Engesser

When, to what extent and under what conditions autonomous driving will become common practice depends not only on the level of technical development but also on social acceptance. Therefore, the rapid development of autonomous driving systems raises the question of how the public perceives this technology. As the mass media are regarded as the main source of information for the lay audience, the news coverage is assumed to affect public opinion. The mass media are also frequently criticized for their inaccurate and biased news coverage. Against this backdrop, we conducted a content analysis of the news coverage of autonomous driving in five leading German newspapers. Findings show that media reporting on autonomous driving is not very detailed. They also indicate a slight positive bias in the balance of arguments and tonality. However, as soon as an accident involving an autonomous vehicle occurs, the frequency of reporting, as well as the extent of negativity and detail increase. We conclude that well-informed public opinion requires more differentiated reporting — irrespective of accidents.

Volume 20 • Issue 04 • 2021

May 26, 2021 Article
Learning without seeking?: Incidental exposure to science news on social media & knowledge of gene editing

by Joshua T. L. Anderson, Emily Howell, Michael A. Xenos, Dietram A. Scheufele and Dominique Brossard

Little is known about how incidental exposure to news, interpersonal discussion, and the diversity of social networks interact in social media environments and for science-related issues. Using a U.S. nationally representative survey, we investigate how these features relate to factual knowledge of gene editing. Incidental exposure to science-related news interacts with interpersonal discussion and network heterogeneity and reveals that the relationship between incidental exposure to news and knowledge is strongest among those who discuss the least. Incidental exposure could alleviate knowledge gaps between the Facebook users who are the most and least involved in interpersonal discussions about science.

Volume 20 • Issue 04 • 2021

May 10, 2021 Article
Public online engagement with science information: on the road to a theoretical framework and a future research agenda

by Monika Taddicken and Nicole Krämer

Internet technologies and specifically social media have drastically changed science communication. The public no longer merely consume science-related information but participate (for example, by rating and disseminating) and generate their own content. Likewise, scientists are no longer dependent on journalists as gatekeepers to spreading relevant information. This paper identifies and reflects on relevant theoretical strands that help to inform theoretical frameworks and research agendas. Therefore, we discuss the technological structures and resulting affordances, a new knowledge order and its actors, as well as trust and rationality as important constructs.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021

May 10, 2021 Article
The landscape of European science communication

by Sarah Rachael Davies, Suzanne Franks, Joseph Roche, Ana Lucia Schmidt, Rebecca Wells and Fabiana Zollo

European science communication project QUEST surveyed and reviewed different aspects of European science communication, including science journalism, teaching and training in science communication, social media activity, and science in museums. This article draws together themes that collectively emerge from this research to present an overview of key issues in science communication across Europe. We discuss four central dynamics — fragmentation within research and practice; a landscape in transition; the importance of format and context; and the dominance of critical and dialogic approaches as best practice — and illustrate these with empirical material from across our datasets. In closing we reflect upon the implications of this summary of European science communication.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021

May 10, 2021 Article
“Who is going to believe me, if I say ‘I'm a researcher?’” — Scientists' role repertoires in online public engagement

by Tessa Roedema, J. E. W. Broerse and J. F. H. Kupper

This article contributes to reflective practice amongst scientists who engage with citizens in the digital public sphere, by exploring the scientists' experiences and underlying perspectives on their role repertoires in online science-society interactions. Semi-structured interviews were held with 26 European scientists to investigate their focus and contribution in boundary interactions, perspective on appropriate model of science communication, and activities, outputs and addressees in the digital public sphere — together comprising a role repertoire. The intended role of scientists often did not match with their deployed repertoire in online interactions with citizens. Participants were left with the feeling that the digital public sphere provides hollow interactions, devaluates scientific expertise or even represents a hostile environment. In order to capitalise on the promise of the digital public sphere for constructive interactions with a diverse public, a reflective practice is needed that aligns scientists' intended contribution to science-society interactions with the scientists' perspective and deployed online repertoires.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021

May 10, 2021 Article
Supporting quality in science communication: insights from the QUEST project

by Ilda Mannino, Laura Bell, Enrico Costa, Matteo Di Rosa, Alessandra Fornetti, Suzanne Franks, Claudia Iasillo, Neil Maiden, Arko Olesk, Jacopo Pasotti, Berit Renser, Joseph Roche, Barbara Schofield, Roberta Villa and Fabiana Zollo

The promotion of quality is a critical aspect to consider in the re-examination of science communication. This problem is analysed in the research carried out by the QUEST project, as featured in this paper. Engaging key stakeholders in a codesign process — through interviews, focus groups, workshops and surveys — the research identified barriers to quality science communication and on the basis of these, proposes a series of tools and supporting material that can serve as incentives toward quality science communication for different stakeholders across the fields of journalism, social media, and museum communication. And it highlights in particular the significance of training in order to promote professionalism amongst communicators.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021

May 10, 2021 Article
Dimensions of trust in different forms of science communication: the role of information sources and channels used to acquire science knowledge

by Sonia Brondi, Giuseppe Pellegrini, Peter Guran, Martin Fero and Andrea Rubin

This paper investigates the dimensions of trust and the role of information sources and channels in developing differentiated forms of science communication. The discussions from two public consultations carried out in Italy and Slovakia about controversial science-related topics were quali-quantitatively content analysed. The results show that scientific knowledge pervades diverse communication spheres, producing differentiated paths of trust in science. Each path is determined by topics (environment or health-related), information sources and channels preferred, and specific features of the multifaceted notion of trust. The contribution discusses cross-national commonalities and specificities and proposes implications for science communication.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021

May 10, 2021 Article
Bringing back the debate on mediated and unmediated science communication: the public's perspective

by Ana Delicado, Jussara Rowland and João Estevens

When analysing the actors of the science communication ecosystem, scholarly research has focused on the perceptions and attitudes of scientists, science journalists, and science communicators. How the public envisages the roles of science producers and mediators is mostly uncharted territory. We address this gap, by examining the results of a public consultation in Portugal concerning science communication. We show that the public demonstrates a clear preference for science communication performed by scientists, over journalists, although credibility and trust depend on multiple factors. We also ascertain that professional science communicators are mostly invisible, though the public recognises the value of `translators'.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021