Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023


Oct 02, 2023 Article
Not here, not now, not me: how distant are climate futures represented in journalistic reporting across four countries?

by Lars Guenther and Michael Brüggemann

Among the reasons why climate change is not a major cause for concern for some members of the public is its psychological distance. Since journalistic media are important sources of information about climate change, this article analyzed how distant climate futures are portrayed in journalistic media across four countries (Germany, India, South Africa, and the United States; n=1,010). Findings show that there are only few differences across countries; representations of distance rather varied with the type of climate future scenario portrayed. The most frequent scenarios in journalistic reporting were distant — especially regarding the temporal, spatial, and social dimensions.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 13, 2023 Article
An analysis of science communication about COVID-19 vaccination in Portuguese online news media

by Elaine Santana, Joana Bernardo, Inga Donici, Rúben Valente, Bárbara Pedro, Inês Almeida, Sílvia Silva, Conceição Alegre, Teresa Loureiro and Rosa Silva

This study aimed to analyze the usage of scientific concepts and technical terms related to COVID-19 vaccination in Portuguese online news sources and examine citizens' comprehension of these terms. A retrospective descriptive study was conducted, examining Portuguese news articles about COVID-19 vaccination from November 2021 to January 2022. Scientific terms were extracted from 190 articles, and seven citizens provided identification and brief definitions of familiar terms. Approximately 68% of the news articles involved collaboration with researchers or health professionals. A total of 144 scientific terms were identified in 77% of the articles, with more than half (57.54%) of these terms being unknown or inadequately defined by the citizens consulted.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 20, 2023 Article
Found a fossil: improving awareness, engagement, and communication strategies for heritage discoveries

by Sally Hurst, Matthew Kosnik, Linda Evans and Glenn A. Brock

Fossils and Indigenous artefacts are often found by members of the general public. To gauge Australian awareness of heritage laws and willingness to report finds, the Found a Fossil project conducted a survey to understand barriers to reporting heritage material. Results showed enthusiasm to report but confusion over appropriate authorities to contact, lack of transparency by government, and poorly communicated legislation created barriers to heritage reporting. This project represents the first attempt to quantify reporting behaviours of Indigenous artefacts and fossils in Australia and recommends improvements for reporting, protection and communication of Australian heritage items and their historical narratives.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 27, 2023 Article
Science communication practices and trust in information sources amongst Nigerian scientists and journalists

by Emma Weitkamp, Ruth Larbey, Mahmoud Bukar Maina, Katy Petherick, Mustapha Shehu Muhammad, Abdullahi Tsanni, Xinyang Hong and Abdulhamid Al-Gazali

Relatively few studies have explored the communication practices of researchers and journalists working in African contexts. We set out to explore the communication activities undertaken by Nigerian health researchers and journalists, their motivations and the barriers they face in communicating about health topics with lay audiences, as well as their trust in a range of sources of scientific information. The study adopted a survey methodology, recruiting 69 participants at a communications training workshop for both health researchers and journalists. We found high levels of participation in research communication amongst health researchers compared with previous work. While many barriers are similar to those faced by researchers in other contexts, our respondents highlighted that lack of support from managers is a significant hurdle, which has not been highlighted in other studies. Both journalists and researchers primarily communicate science with the aim of educating, informing, entertaining or inspiring their audiences. Regarding trust, both researchers and journalists broadly trust sources linked to science, such as academic journals. However, trust in industry, NGOs and other media was higher amongst journalists than health researchers. Least trust was invested in social media sources, with the exception of material posted on accounts linked to universities.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Dec 04, 2023 Article
Emotional responses from families visiting the zoo: a study at Parque das Aves in Foz do Iguaçu

by Graziele Scalfi, Luisa Massarani, Waneicy Gonçalves, Adriana Aparecida Andrade Chagas and Alessandra Bizerra

In this study, we aim to analyse human emotional responses towards animals, specifically birds, in the context of a visit to a zoo. The study was carried out with seven families in Parque das Aves. The visits were recorded using the point-of-view-camera method, and the data was analysed using qualitative software to identify emotion descriptors. The findings from our study reveal that the physical characteristics of birds, such as their patterns and colours, as well as their behaviours and abilities, triggered emotional responses that were associated with admiration for the species, concern for their well-being and awareness of conservation issues, enabling these families to construct meaning.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Dec 06, 2023 Article
Which scientist are you? Creating self-outgroup overlap with a scientist through a personality matching game

by Alexandra L. Beauchamp, Su-Jen Roberts and Craig Piper

Based in intergroup contact theory, we investigated how messaging about shared characteristics affects perceived closeness with scientists (i.e., self-outgroup overlap). In an online study, participants ($N=486$) played a personality matching game that matched them with a real scientist, then they responded to a survey. We replicated the study at a zoo ($N=63$) to examine implementation as a facilitated game. Self-scientist overlap improved in the online setting; in the in situ setting, trust increased, but not self-scientist overlap. Findings suggest that learning about how one scientist is similar to one's self can increase perceived closeness to scientists overall.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Practice Insights

Sep 18, 2023 Practice Insight
How to save the world with zombies? — A scientainment approach to engage young people

by Petra Bättig-Frey, Mirjam West, Rahel Skelton and Verena Berger

When trying to sensitize adolescents for sustainability, innovative communication approaches are needed. In the outdoor escape “Zombie mission”, players follow a story and try to save the world by solving puzzles about sustainability topics with scientific information found in the university gardens. This study investigates to whom this scientainment approach appeals and whether it can impart knowledge and raise interest in science and the environment. A mixed methods approach was adopted using questionnaires and interviews. The results suggest that the game is a promising tool for communicating sustainability to adolescents, even those who may not have had prior interest in the environment or science. Participants enjoyed the activity and gained new knowledge as a result.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 25, 2023 Practice Insight
How European journalists cover marine issues

by Bruno Pinto and Ana Matias

Keeping citizens informed about the sea is important because it can motivate collective actions to address threats to coastal and marine sustainability. In this article, we wondered how European science and environmental journalists cover marine issues in the print media. We conducted 26 interviews with press journalists in 13 European countries and asked about topics, triggers, and sources to write marine-related news. We found that climate change, marine pollution, and biodiversity are the most important issues and that good working relationships with both scientists and NGOs are key for this media coverage.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Oct 23, 2023 Practice Insight
Towards inclusive PE for science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and opportunities

by Konosoang Sobane, Elizabeth Lubinga and Karabo Sitto-Kaunda

Inclusive public engagement (PE), an approach that recognizes the plurality of gender identities, is crucial for science reach, uptake, and impact. This study explored the PE activities of 15 science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify existing practices, their strengths, and barriers to inclusive PE practices. Key informant interviews were used to elicit data, with additional data collected through a digital audit of the 15 councils. The study established that SGC activities demonstrate relatively good alignment with their PE mandate. Initiatives have been developed and implemented, although there are areas that need strengthening. Some of the key areas that need strengthening are the lack of commitment to multilingual knowledge transfer using local languages; the explicit inclusion of women in policies and programs, the diversification of engagement platforms and tools to address the urban-rural divide and the digital divide.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 06, 2023 Practice Insight
What would aliens think of science on earth? Philosophical dialogues in the museum to help children reflect about science

by Jelle De Schrijver

Thinking about what makes science science can help people develop both an understanding of and a critical attitude towards knowledge. In this case study we explore how children participating in informal science communication activities can think about science by engaging in philosophical dialogues. The dialogue facilitator's inquisitive stance helps children develop arguments about knowledge, scientists, and science. The use of philosophical questions and a cover story involving alien scientists enthuses most children, but some find it frustrating. However, frustration acts as a motivator enhancing further reflection. Introducing this approach at science museums or science festivals challenges science communicators to question rather than to answer.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 22, 2023 Practice Insight
The value of public science events: insights from three years of communicating climate change research

by Ruth A. O'Connor, Tara Roberson, Clare de Castella and Zoe Leviston

Public science events are valued primarily as sites of individual learning. We explored the individual and collective value of university-based science events discussing climate change and motivations to attend. While events were most commonly valued as opportunities for learning, their social context created collective value associated with the physical gathering of like-minded people. Participants despairing at inaction on climate change were given agency through learning, participation, interpersonal discussions and normalising new behaviours. Post-event interpersonal discussions increase the reach of events beyond “the choir”. These discussions increase the diversity of messengers, creating opportunities for new framings and understandings of climate change.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023


Oct 09, 2023 Essay
A critical perspective on the mediatization of brain imaging and healthy ageing

by Najmeh Khalili-Mahani and Eugene Loos

Since the invention of functional brain imaging in the early 1990s, this instrumentally and computationally expensive methodology has captured our interests in visualizing the working mind, especially that of super-ageing brains. Because neuroimaging research is costly, various communication strategies are deployed to increase its visibility and fundraising success. Through a historical perspective on the representation of healthy ageing in the media, we examine the methods of communication (media logic) and the cultural interdependencies between media, research institutions, and health funding politics (mediatization), which magnify the profile of brain imaging in advancing the science of healthy ageing. Examples of hyped messaging about healthy-ageing brains underline the risk of visual ageism — a prejudiced and stereotypical view of what a good or bad older brain looks like. We argue that hyped mediatization can alienate older adults from participating in a line of research that might stigmatize them.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Book Reviews

Oct 16, 2023 Book Review
Visualising science: a thorough guide for designing and using science graphics

by Marnell Kirsten

`Building Science Graphics' guides scientists and science communicators on how their communication of science knowledge can benefit from the visual aid of science graphics. This can be an intimidating task to someone unfamiliar with visual design, but the book demystifies this entire process, giving a simple and straightforward account of a complex topic.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023