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Sep 22, 2014 Article
Science blogging: an exploratory study of motives, styles, and audience reactions

by Merja Mahrt and Cornelius Puschmann

This paper presents results from three studies on science blogging, the use of blogs for science communication. A survey addresses the views and motives of science bloggers, a first content analysis examines material published in science blogging platforms, while a second content analysis looks at reader responses to controversial issues covered in science blogs. Bloggers determine to a considerable degree which communicative function their blog can realize and how accessible it will be to non-experts Frequently readers are interested in adding their views to a post, a form of involvement which is in turn welcomed by the majority of bloggers.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

Sep 22, 2014 Article
Films and Science: quantification and analysis of the use of Science Fiction films in scientific papers

by Luciano Guillermo Levin and Daniela De Filippo

The purpose of this study is to quantify the use of science fiction films in academic papers as well as to analyse the patterns of use of those films indexed in international databases, using the ISI Web of Science database. Twenty films were selected from recognised sources. Films referenced in the scientific literature were detected and, with quantitative methodologies, we classified their genres, the journals of publication and the disciplines they belong to. Finally, we performed a detailed study of each paper in which selected films were found, to observe and categorise specifically the ways such film references are used.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

Sep 22, 2014 Article
Types of knowledge in science-based practices

by Nelius Boshoff

Science communication as an interdisciplinary field of study has always been concerned with issues of knowledge utilisation. This theoretical paper focusses on the “knowledge” part of knowledge utilisation and provides a conceptual frame to distinguish between different types of knowledge in science-based practice. A practitioner’s knowledge store is portrayed as a dense set of personal knowledge, consisting of procedural knowledge, factual knowledge, potential factual knowledge and opinions/beliefs; the totality of which is continuously refined through more experiences and additional information received from people, documents or events. Implications for future studies of knowledge utilisation in science-based practices are highlighted and a number of questions posed to science communication as a profession.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

Sep 22, 2014 Article
Delivering the message: a theoretical study on designing science content for nature-based experiences

by Sanha Kim

The urgent state of our global environment calls for collective action, which depends in large part on effective science communication for better understanding and awareness. Activities and institutions that provide opportunities to learn about nature all ultimately rely on scientific findings about nature. Although science produces the knowledge and information about nature, for the content to be accessible and meaningful to the general public, it needs to be processed by what I call science content design. This process is similar to the concepts of interpretation in tourism, or aesthetic understanding in alternative science education. This study is a theoretical exploration on the definition and nature of science content design, what constitutes its process, and how the content can be designed. Focusing on the fields of macro-biology, I also discuss the types of biological content generally used in nature-based experiences, and examine model cases of biological content design.

Volume 13 • Issue 03 • 2014

Apr 08, 2014 Article
Framing engagement: expert-youth interaction in a PES event

by Sampsa Saikkonen and Esa Valiverronen

Previous studies on public engagement with science have identified various difficulties in the encounters between experts and lay people. However, there is a scarcity of research investigating expert-youth interaction. In this paper we focus on the interactive framings of an informal PES event. Based on a case study involving a climate change panel discussion and a simultaneous online chat, both aimed at young people, we discuss the multiplicity of framing. Further, we look for “misbehaviours” which challenge the rationality and norms of the event. Our findings indicate that the frame of deliberative participation is very fragile.

Volume 13 • Issue 02 • 2014

Apr 02, 2014 Article
Narrative as a learning tool in science centers: potentials, possibilities and merits

by Mai Murmann and Lucy Avraamidou

In this theoretical paper we explore the use of narrative as a learning tool in informal science settings. Specifically, the purpose of this paper is to explore how narrative can be applied to exhibits in the context of science centers to scaffold visitors science learning. In exploring this idea, we analyze the theoretical, structural and epistemological properties of narrative. In the pages that follow, we first discuss the advantages and possibilities for learning that science centers offer alongside challenges and limitations. Next, we discuss the role of narrative in science, as a tool for supporting science learning. We then continue with an analysis of the structural and epistemological properties of narrative and discuss how those can serve to establish narrative as a learning tool.

Volume 13 • Issue 02 • 2014

Mar 25, 2014 Article
Examining perceptions of astronomy images across mobile platforms

by Lisa Smith, Kimberly Arcand, Jeffrey Smith, Randall Smith, Jay Bookbinder and Megan Watzke

Modern society has led many people to become consumers of data unlike previous generations. How this shift in the way information is communicated and received — including in areas of science — and affects perception and comprehension is still an open question. This study examined one aspect of this digital age: perceptions of astronomical images and their labels, on mobile platforms. Participants were n = 2183 respondents to an online survey, and two focus groups (n = 12 astrophysicists; n = 11 lay public). Online participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 12 images, and compared two label formats. Focus groups compared mobile devices and label formats. Results indicated that the size and quality of the images on the mobile devices affected label comprehension and engagement. The question label format was significantly preferred to the fun fact. Results are discussed in terms of effective science communication using technology.

Volume 13 • Issue 02 • 2014

Mar 13, 2014 Article
Communicating evolution with a Dynamic Evolutionary Map

by Sonia Stephens

Metaphors and visualizations are important for science communication, though they may have limitations. This paper describes the development and evaluation of a novel interactive visualization, the "Dynamic Evolutionary Map"' (DEM), which communicates biological evolution using a non-standard metaphor. The DEM uses a map metaphor and interactivity to address conceptual limitations of traditional tree-based evolutionary representations. In a pilot evaluation biology novices used the DEM to answer questions about evolution. The results suggest that this visualization communicates some conceptual affordances differently than trees. Therefore, the described approach of building alternative visual metaphors for challenging concepts appears useful for science communication.

Volume 13 • Issue 01 • 2014

Mar 13, 2014 Article
The passive voice in scientific writing. The current norm in science journals

by Leong Ping Alvin

In contrast to past consensus, many authors now feel that the passive voice compromises the quality of scientific writing. However, studies involving scientific articles are rare. Using a corpus of 60 scientific research articles from six journals, this study examined the proportion of passives used, and the contexts and forms in which they occurred. The results revealed that about 30% of all clauses were passive clauses. The canonical form was most pervasive, followed by the bare passive; together, they constituted more than a quarter of all clauses analyzed. Passives were typically used in main clauses, followed by relative and adverbial clauses. Roughly 29% of all passives were located in the methodology section. Based on the results, the proportion of passives in scientific writing may stabilize at about 30%. It is unlikely to dramatically drop any further since the trend suggests that passives are still widely used in the methodology section.

Volume 13 • Issue 01 • 2014

Mar 04, 2014 Article
The uncertainties of climate change in Spanish daily newspapers: content analysis of press coverage from 2000 to 2010

by Emilia Lopera and Carolina Moreno

This paper explores media coverage of climate science through a selection of Spanish newspapers (El País, El Mundo, ABC, Expansión and Levante). We selected a stratified random sample of 363 items to be studied for eleven years (2000-2010). Content analysis allowed us to find out media attention paid to climate science, prevalence of informative tables, evaluation and characterization of news, as well as the presence of questioning or rejection of climate change. According to main results, press coverage of climate science in Spain was mainly focused on the consequences rather than on the causes or natural sources, and media attention paid to it was limited. Overlapping with social and macroeconomic problems in the country also contributed to communication of climate science as a controversial and uncertain science through informative framings.

Volume 13 • Issue 01 • 2014