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Dec 09, 2020 Article
A space to study: expectations and aspirations toward science among a low-participation cohort

by Cherry Canovan and Robert Walsh

Widening participation in science is a long-held ambition of governments in the U.K. and elsewhere; however numbers of STEM entrants to university from low-socioeconomic status groups remain persistently low. The authors are conducting a long-term school-based space science intervention with a group of pupils from a very-low-participation area, and studied the science attitudes of the participants at the beginning of the programme. Key findings were that young people from the very-low-SES study cohort were just as interested in science study and science jobs as their peers nationally, and had a pre-existing interest in space science. Some participants, particularly boys, demonstrated a ‘concealed science identity’, in that they perceived themselves as a ‘science person’ but thought that other people did not. Boys tended to score higher on generalised ‘science identity’ measures, but the gender difference disappeared on more ‘realist’ measures. In addition, although participants agreed that it was useful to study science, they had little concrete idea as to why. These findings shed light on how science communicators can best address low-SES groups of young people with the aim of increasing their participation in science education and careers. We conclude that interventions with this group that focus on ‘aspiration raising’ are unlikely to be successful, and instead suggest that activities focus on how young people can see science as a realistic path for their future. It would be helpful for in-school programmes to allow young people an outlet to express their science identity, and to give information about the kinds of jobs that studying science may lead to. Further research into whether the gender split on idealist/realist measures of science identity persists over time would be of use.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 04, 2020 Article
Engagement styles in an environmental citizen science project

by Yaela Golumbic, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari and Barak Fishbain

This paper identifies the diverse ways in which participants engage with science, through the same citizen science project. Using multiple data sources, we describe various activities conducted by citizen scientists in an air quality project, and characterize the motivations driving their engagement. Findings reveal several themes, indicative of participants motivations and engagement; worried residents, education and outreach, environmental action, personal interest and opportunistic engagement. The study further illustrates the interconnectivity between science communication and citizen science practices and calls for nurturing this relationship for the mutual advancement of both fields.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 02, 2020 Article
Masculine public image of six scientific fields in Japan: physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, information science, mathematics, and biology

by Yuko Ikkatai, Azusa Minamizaki, Kei Kano, Atsushi Inoue, Euan McKay and Hiromi M. Yokoyama

U.S. and other publics perceive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields as masculine and scientist as a male occupation, but Japanese public perception remains unstudied. Using an online survey, we identified keywords associated with physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, information science, biology, and mathematics. A second online survey showed that the Japanese public perceived both keywords and fields as masculine. This trend was stronger in individuals with less egalitarian attitudes towards gender roles. We suggest that attitude towards gender roles contributes to the masculine image of science in Japan.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Oct 26, 2020 Article
Interactive articles: a case study in the ‘Ciência Hoje’ magazine

by Natalia Souza and Diego Vaz Bevilaqua

This paper analyzes a new initiative in Brazil’s ‘Ciência Hoje’ magazine, called “Interactive Articles”, aimed at understanding how stakeholders relate to interactivity when writing a science communication article. We investigated participation in two platforms (magazine website and Facebook page) and interviewed the authors concerning the tool’s impact on their articles. Comments were examined using intensity analysis and content analysis, while interviews were analyzed with the collective subject discourse method. The study concluded that the novel initiative presented positive results in terms of interactivity and was regarded as public engagement and contextual model of science communication from the interviewed authors.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Article
China and the battle to win the scientific narrative about the origin of COVID-19

by Daniel Lemus-Delgado

The emergence of COVID-19 represented a critical problem for the legitimacy and prestige of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese authorities had to fight not only to contain the spread of the virus but also to create a favorable public opinion about how they managed the crisis. Based on Foucault's approach to the “Regime of Truth”, this article analyzes the narrative surrounding the origin of the virus and how science was employed to lend it legitimacy. The article concludes by reviewing how the idea of science as a truth knowledge is used to construct a particular viewpoint, one focused on legitimizing the outbreak containment measures taken by the Chinese government.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Article
Rapid reaction: ethnographic insights into the Science Media Center and its response to the COVID-19 outbreak

by Irene Broer

This paper offers an ethnographic account of the editorial response to the COVID-19 outbreak by the Science Media Center Germany. Ethnographic research data was gathered during a 4-week fieldstay in January 2020 which coincided with the first weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak. The findings offer insights into how the editorial staff grappled with the scientific non-knowledge and uncertainty that marked the initial phase of the global COVID-19 outbreak, while simultaneously dealing with acute journalistic demands for expertise.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Article
COVID-19 in the South Pacific: science communication, Facebook and ‘coconut wireless’

by Vipul Khosla and Prashanth Pillay

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the criticality of science communication. Utilising a mixed-methods approach, this article takes an audience-focused perspective to analysing COVID-19 related social media posts on 23 popular South Pacific community Facebook pages over a four-month period across eight South Pacific countries. We analyse how audiences co-opt scientific terms, address information gaps and embed it in their lived experience. It is ascertained that online conversations around COVID-19 in the Pacific are intermeshed with both scientific fact and, personal accounts and rumours, referred to locally as ‘coconut wireless’, problematising established modes of empirical enquiry.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Article
Science communication for the Deaf in the pandemic period: absences and pursuit of information

by Alexandre G. Silva, Tiago Batista, Felipe Giraud, Andrea Giraud, Flavio Eduardo Pinto-Silva, Julia Barral, Juan Nascimento Guimarães and Vívian rumjanek

COVID-19 pandemic hit Brazil in February 2020. Controversial information, minimization of the problem, and difficulties resulting from extreme social inequality, led to the intensification of the disease and number of deaths. During this period, the government failed to provide information to the Deaf minority that uses Brazilian Sign Language to communicate. This study analyzes information provided by a TV with accessibility, as well as a Facebook page created by Deaf and hearing interpreters, and videos posted on Instagram and YouTube for that community. The novelty of the subject required linguistic efforts so that information could be coherent in sign language.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Article
How public perceptions of social distancing evolved over a critical time period: communication lessons learnt from the American state of Wisconsin

by Kaiping Chen, Luye Bao, Anqi Shao, Pauline Ho, Shiyu Yang, Christopher D. Wirz, Dominique Brossard, Markus Brauer and Lori DiPrete Brown

Understanding how individuals perceive the barriers and benefits of precautionary actions is key for effective communication about public health crises, such as the COVID-19 outbreak. This study used innovative computational methods to analyze 30,000 open-ended responses from a large-scale survey to track how Wisconsin (U.S.A.) residents' perceptions of the benefits of and barriers to performing social distancing evolved over a critical time period (March 19th to April 1st, 2020). Initially, the main barrier was practical related, however, individuals later perceived more multifaceted barriers to social distancing. Communication about COVID-19 should be dynamic and evolve to address people's experiences and needs overtime.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Sep 30, 2020 Article
Pharmaceutical influencers on Instagram and their communication during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis

by Zahaira Fabiola González Romo, Sofia Iriarte Aguirre and Irene Garcia Medina

Today, thanks to the consolidation of Internet, users have access to many sources of information on health issues. On social networks, there are profiles of health professionals who share content that generates credibility when published by specialists who are knowledgeable in the sector. These profiles include pharmaceutical professionals who disseminate and create content based on scientific knowledge. Pharmaceutical influencers on Instagram have an informative role on health, nutrition and cosmetic dermatology issues. This research aims to learn about the communication management of these influencers during the Coronavirus crisis in Spain and how they have modified their habitual discourse, as well as seeking to identify the formats of their publications that generate greater engagement and conversions among their followers.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020