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May 18, 2017 Article
Discussing climate change online. Topics and perceptions in online climate change communication in different online public arenas

by Ines Lörcher and Monika Taddicken

How users discuss climate change online is one of the crucial questions (science) communication scholars address nowadays. This study contributes by approaching the issue through the theoretical concept of online public arenas. The diversity of topics and perceptions in the climate change discourse is explored by comparing different arenas. German journalistic articles and their reader comments as well as scientific expert blogs are analyzed by quantitative manual and automated content analysis (n=5,301). Findings demonstrate a larger diversity of topics and interpretations in arenas with low barriers to communication. Overall, climate change skepticism is rare, but mostly present in lay publics.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

May 03, 2017 Article
Science communication as a field of research: identifying trends, challenges and gaps by analysing research papers

by Lars Guenther and Marina Joubert

Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry. Early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West. The current study is a systematic, bibliographic analysis of a full sample of research papers that were published in the three most prominent journals in the field from 1979 to 2016. The findings reveal that early inequities remain prevalent, but also that there are indications that recent increases in research outputs and trends in authorship patterns ― for example the growth in female authorship ― are beginning to correct some of these imbalances. Furthermore, the current study verifies earlier indications that science communication research is becoming increasingly institutionalised and internationalised, as demonstrated by an upward trend in papers reflecting cross-institutional collaboration and the diversity of countries where authors are based.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Apr 18, 2017 Article
Building the economic-public relationship: learning from science communication and science studies.

by Fabien Medvecky and Vicki Macknight

There is a gap between the discipline of economics and the public it is supposedly about and for. This gap is reminiscent of the divide that led to movements for the public understanding of and public engagement with the natural sciences. It is a gap in knowledge, trust, and opinions, but most of all it is a gap in engagement. In this paper we ask: What do we need to think about ― and what do we need to do ― in order to bring economics and its public into closer dialogue? At stake is engaged, critical democracy. We turn to the fields of public understanding of science and science studies for our approach, finding three themes of particular relevance: understanding, expertise, and audience. We then discuss participatory budgeting (PB) as an example of fertile ground for engagement. We argue that with an economic-engagement focus, activities such as PB could be extended into the public-economics gap and provide avenues for an economic equivalent of participatory science: a form of participatory economics.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Mar 28, 2017 Article
Online video on climate change: a comparison between television and web formats

by Alicia De Lara, Jose A. García-Avilés and Gema Revuelta

This article proposes a classification of the current differences between online videos produced specifically for television and online videos produced for the Internet, based on online audiovisual production on climate change. The classification, which consists of 18 formats divided into two groups that allow comparisons to be made between television and web formats, was created through the quantitative and qualitative content analysis of a sample of 300 videos. The findings show that online video's capacity to generate visits is greater when it has been designed to be broadcast on the Internet than when produced for television.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Jan 23, 2017 Article
Analysing Dutch Science Cafés to better understand the science-society relationship

by Anne Dijkstra

Science cafés offer a place for information and discussion for all who are interested in science and its broader implications for society. In this paper, science cafés are explored as a means of informal science dialogue in order to gain more understanding of the science-society relationship. Perspectives of visitors, organisers and moderators of science cafés were analysed. Findings show that science cafés stimulate discussion and engagement via informal learning processes. Visitors come to broaden their knowledge in an informal ambiance. Organisers and moderators hope to enhance understanding of science and confidence of people to participate in debates.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Jan 11, 2017 Article
Deliberating science in Italian high school. The case of the Scienza Attiva project

by Federica Cornali, Gianfranco Pomatto and Selena Agnella

This paper provides an analysis of the implementation and the outcomes of Scienza Attiva, an Italian national project for secondary school students, that makes use of deliberative democracy tools to address socio-scientific issues of great impact. The analysis has required a mixed method including surveys of students' pre- and post-project opinions, focus groups and interviews with students and teachers. The results from this evaluation study provide evidence that the project improves students' understanding of socio-scientific issues, strengthens their awareness of the importance of discussion and positively influences interactions in the classroom.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Jan 11, 2017 Article
Volunteer recruitment and retention in online citizen science projects using marketing strategies: lessons from Season Spotter

by Alycia Crall, Margaret Kosmala, Rebecca Cheng, Jonathan Brier, Darlene Cavalier, Sandra Henderson and Andrew Richardson

Citizen science continues to grow, potentially increasing competition among projects to recruit and retain volunteers interested in participating. Using web analytics, we examined the ability of a marketing campaign to broaden project awareness, while driving engagement and retention in an online, crowdsourced project. The campaign challenged audiences to support the classification of >9,000 pairs of images. The campaign was successful due to increased engagement, but it did not increase the time participants spent classifying images. Engagement over multiple days was significantly shorter during the campaign. We provide lessons learned to improve targeted recruitment and retention of participants in online projects.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Dec 06, 2016 Article
Online science videos: an exploratory study with major professional content providers in the United Kingdom

by María Carmen Erviti and Erik Stengler

We present an exploratory study of science communication via online video through various UK-based YouTube science content providers. We interviewed five people responsible for eight of the most viewed and subscribed professionally generated content channels. The study reveals that the immense potential of online video as a science communication tool is widely acknowledged, especially regarding the possibility of establishing a dialogue with the audience and of experimenting with different formats. It also shows that some online video channels fully exploit this potential whilst others focus on providing a supplementary platform for other kinds of science communication, such as print or TV.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016

Nov 29, 2016 Article
Science, Twitter and election campaigns: tracking #auspol in the Australian federal elections

by Merryn McKinnon, David Semmens, Brenda Moon, Inoka Amarasekara and Léa Bolliet

Social media is increasingly being used by science communicators, journalists and government agencies to engage in discourse with a range of publics. Despite a growing body of literature on Twitter use, the communication of science via Twitter is comparatively under explored. This paper examines the prominence of scientific issues in political debate occurring on Twitter during the 2013 and 2016 Australian federal election campaigns. Hashtracking of the umbrella political hashtag auspol was used to capture tweets during the two campaign periods. The 2013 campaign was particularly relevant as a major issue for both parties was climate change mitigation, a controversial and partisan issue. Therefore, climate change discussion on Twitter during the 2013 election was used as a focal case study in this research. Subsamples of the 2013 data were used to identify public sentiment and major contributors to the online conversation, specifically seeking to see if scientific, governmental, media or ‘public' sources were the more dominant instigators. We compare the prominence of issues on Twitter to mainstream media polls over the two campaign periods and argue that the potential of Twitter as an effective public engagement tool for science, and for politicised scientific issues in particular, is not being realised.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016

Nov 29, 2016 Article
Public science communication in Africa: views and practices of academics at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe

by Heather Ndlovu, Marina Joubert and Nelius Boshoff

This study of the science communication views and practices of African researchers ― academics at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe ― reveals a bleak picture of the low status of public science engagement in the developing world. Researchers prioritise peer communication and pay little attention to the public, policy makers and popular media. Most scientists believe the public is largely not scientifically literate or interested in research. An unstable funding environment, a lack of communication incentives and censoring of politically sensitive findings further constrain researchers' interest in public engagement. Most NUST academics, however, are interested in science communication training. We suggest interventions that could revive and support public science engagement at African universities.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016