Browse all Publications

Filter by section: Article

Publications included in this section.

Oct 05, 2022 Article
Strategic communication at the European Space Agency: juxtaposing strategy and public attitudes

by Axel Pfleger, Alexander Gerber and Alexander Struck

This case study analyses the efficacy of the European Space Agency's (ESA) strategic communication through a content analysis and an online attitudes survey in Germany. Our findings generally indicate low efficacy as ESA's communication strategy strongly focusses on press agentry, and is not managed in a sufficiently strategic manner. ESA pays little attention to evaluation and lays emphasis on targeting ‘the general public’. By contrast, we reveal a diversity of attitudes towards ESA among various publics. In light of this disconnect from best practice and public attitudes, we argue for a more inclusive approach which maximises public participation and introduces a more diverse and evidence-based science communication portfolio so as to make ESA's communication more efficacious and sustainable.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Sep 28, 2022 Article
How issue entrepreneurs shape public discourse of controversial science: examining GMO discussion on a popular Chinese Q&A platform

by Kaiping Chen and Yepeng Jin

Social media have become popular channels for sharing and discussing science issues. Drawing from the classic communication theory, Public Arena Model, this paper examines how issue entrepreneurs influenced the Chinese public's cognition of GMO, especially the role of celebrities and scientists in controversial science communication. To answer this question, we used the structural topic modeling method to examine public discussion about GMO on a popular Q&A site in China (Zhihu) from 2014 to 2019 (N=40,101). In study 1, we investigated what the major themes of public discourse are about GMO and the evolution of these themes in general. In study 2, we investigated public discourse in a more specific context, an iconic event in China's GMO history, a debate between a TV celebrity and a scientist, to examine how two major issue entrepreneurs influenced what and how the public deliberated GMO. We found that the issue entrepreneurs' debate increased public discussion on the ‘science communication’ aspect of GMO yet decreased public discussion on the ‘science’ of GMO. Supporters of different entrepreneurs are divided in their attitudes and rhetoric toward GMO. These findings shed new light on how social media is a digital embodiment of the public arena where public deliberation about controversial science occur and evolve.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Aug 29, 2022 Article
Vaccination rates in Europe are not associated with online media intensity

by Catarina Luís, Veronica Romina Di Marzo, Mandeep Kaur, Christos Argyropoulos, Declan Devane, Fiona Anne Stewart, George Antoniou, Greet Hendrickx, Helena Hervius Askling, Margot Hellemans, Miriam Cohen, Orly Spivak, Pierre Van Damme, Rebecca Jane Cox, Sirkka Vene, Sofie Sibia, Zoi Dorothea Pana, Ole Olesen and on behalf of VACCELERATE Consortium

To map the public information about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine trials in Europe, we have compiled an inventory of online communication materials from official sources (e.g., governments, public agencies, and NGOs) via directed online research. While information for the general public was abundant across Europe, we found a large variation in number, type and target audiences among countries. Little or no information was found for population groups that are typically underrepresented in vaccine clinical trials. Materials about clinical trials and trial participation were also limited. Interestingly, higher number of media materials was not reflected in higher national vaccination rates.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Aug 22, 2022 Article
Increasingly polarised or finding common ground? Exploring pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric on two South African Facebook pages

by Karien Connoway, Hannah Keal, Milandré van Lill and Marina Joubert

We investigated pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric on two South African Facebook pages to identify the nature, sources and justifications of the vaccine-related claims published on these pages. Our dataset consisted of 440 Facebook posts made by page administrators during 2019. Statements related to the safety and necessity of vaccines dominated the pro-vaccine page, while the anti-vaccine page focussed primarily on claims about the dangers of vaccines. Posts on both pages frequently contained content shared from within Facebook, with much of the content originating from the United States. Both pages made equal use of scientific justifications (i.e. published journal articles) to support claims, and most of these articles were published in accredited journals. The authors hope that a better understanding of the nature, sources and justifications of pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric may lead to more constructive dialogue about vaccines, including the ongoing debate about COVID-19 vaccines.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Aug 16, 2022 Article
Making science communication inclusive: an exploratory study of choices, challenges and change mechanisms in the United States from an emerging movement

by Sunshine Menezes, Kayon Murray-Johnson, Hollie Smith, Hannah Trautmann and Mehri Azizi

This qualitative study explores perspectives of U.S.A.-based science communication researchers and practitioners who attended a symposium focused on advancing inclusive science communication (ISC). ISC is a growing global movement that aims to center equity, inclusion, and marginalized perspectives in science communication. Findings underscore the complexity of systemic barriers to ISC, the critical need for resource sharing and network building, and the importance of evaluation frameworks. The authors also highlight critical dialogue as a strategic tool that might help support intentional, reciprocal, and reflexive practices in science communication.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Aug 01, 2022 Article
Communicating urgency through humor: School Strike 4 Climate protest placards

by Matthew Hee, Anna-Sophie Jürgens, Anastasiya Fiadotava, Karina Judd and Hannah R. Feldman

Protest placards are an important part of School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) protest culture and illustrate how protesters view, understand and share their environmental concerns. Many of the placards use humor to convey the messages of their creators. Bringing together science communication and humor studies, this paper examines the communicative functions of humor in Australian SS4C posters by asking to what extent protest signs can be understood as a vehicle of science communication. The paper reveals how humorous protest placards become the means of grassroots creativity, exploring bottom-up science communication in an ambiguous, but accessible and enjoyable form.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Jun 28, 2022 Article
Plausibility of scientific findings: institutional factors in lay evaluations

by Elizaveta P. Sheremet and Inna F. Deviatko

One of the recent “crises” experienced by science is associated with a decline in its public support. We conducted two factorial surveys among university students aiming at broadening our understanding of the information cues influencing the wider publics' judgments of science. We found that sociological and criminological research results are perceived as less plausible compared to neuroscientific and physiological research, but as more plausible than results from genetics. In contrast with the previous data on the importance of funding and institutional prestige cues as the indirect indicators of the research quality among academic experts, we discovered the absence of any effects of funding or institutional prestige for the selected type of general audience.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Jun 10, 2022 Article
The ‘Engagement Incubator’: using design to stimulate reflexivity about public engagement with science

by Jo Bailey, Rhian Salmon and Maja Horst

Public Engagement with Science calls for scientists to think more reflexively about their research, and how assumptions, power and contexts influence associated communication. To interrogate this, we utilised design to stimulate reflexive thinking about science communication through a residential ‘Engagement Incubator’ that took the form of a pop-up cardboard laundromat. Participants reported an increased appreciation for, and insight into, PES theory, and its relevance to their work. In addition, our experience of enacting PES theory, and reflexive thematic analysis of data collected through the process, deepened our own understanding of PES and reinforced our appreciation of engagement as reproductive, and inherently circular work.

Volume 21 • Issue 04 • 2022 • Special Issue: Responsible science communication across the globe

Jun 10, 2022 Article
Levelling the playing field: lessons from sport on re-framing science engagement as a benefit to the individual

by Lindsay Keith and Gary Kerr

The workforces of the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) industries suffer from skills gaps and lack diversity. Science engagement activities often try to solve these problems through targeting audiences under-represented in the STEM workforces. There is limited data, however, to suggest that these engagement efforts are successful in translating into more diverse workforces. We draw upon Unicef’s ‘Sport for Development’ model and propose a new conceptual framework: ‘Science Engagement for Good’. This frames science engagement activities around the benefits to individuals, families and communities, rather than the benefits to STEM industries, the economy or society at large.

Volume 21 • Issue 04 • 2022 • Special Issue: Responsible science communication across the globe

Jun 10, 2022 Article
Towards the reflective science communication practitioner

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

The practice of science communication is fundamentally changing. This requires science communication practitioners to continuously adapt their practice to an ever-changing ecosystem and highlights the importance of reflective practice for science communication. In this study, we supported 21 science communication practitioners in developing a reflective practice. Our study shows that reflective practice enabled practitioners in becoming aware of their own stance towards science or assumptions regarding audiences (single-loop learning), underlying and sometimes conflicting values or worldviews present in science communication situations (double-loop learning), and facilitated practitioners to adapt their practice accordingly. Triple-loop learning, allowing practitioners to fundamentally rethink and transform their mode of science communication, was less observed. We argue that reflective practice contributes to opening-up public conversations on science — including a conversation on underlying values, worldviews, and emotions, next to communicating scientific facts.

Volume 21 • Issue 04 • 2022 • Special Issue: Responsible science communication across the globe