Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009


Mar 20, 2009 Editorial
Techno-scientific hybrids. Science communication in pursuit of an academic identity

by Nico Pitrelli and Yuri Castelfranchi

A recent article published in Science Communication addresses the training issue in issue in our discipline. Henk Mulder and his colleagues discuss the shared features that university curricula should or could have to favour the full admission of science communication into the academic circle. Having analysed analogies and differences in the curricula that a number of schools provide all over the world, the authors reached the conclusion that much remains to be done. Science communication seems far from having found shared fundamental references, lessons that cannot be missed in the practical-theoretical education of future professionals or researchers in this discipline. What should one study to become a good science communicator? And to make innovative research?

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009


Jan 26, 2009 Article
Mouse model: what do Japanese life sciences researchers mean by this term?

by Jin Higashijima, Kae Takahashi and Kazuto Kato

Mouse-related research in the life sciences has expanded remarkably over the last two decades, resulting in growing use of the term “mouse model”. Our interviews with 64 leading Japanese life sciences researchers showed heterogeneities in the definition of “mouse model” in the Japanese life sciences community. Here, we discuss the implications for the relationship between the life sciences community and society in Japan that may result from this ambiguity in the terminology. It is suggested that, in Japanese life sciences, efforts by individual researchers to make their scientific information unambiguous and explanative are necessary.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009

Feb 24, 2009 Article
Using communication research to gather stakeholder preferences to improve groundwater management models: a South Texas case study

by Ric Jensen and Venkatesh Uddameri

There is a compelling need to ensure that the points of view and preferences of stakeholders are fully considered and incorporated into natural resources management strategies. Stakeholders include a diverse group of individuals in several sectors that have an interest in how natural resources are managed. Typically, stakeholders with an interest in groundwater resources include groups who could be affected by the manner in which the resource is managed (e.g., farmers who need water for irrigation; municipalities and individuals who need drinking water, agencies and organizations that want to maintain in-stream flows to support ecosystems, etc.) Refugio County in South Texas provides an interesting case study since several groups of water users in the region are working with researchers at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) to develop decision-support models that incorporate stakeholder concerns. The focus of this paper is to provide a series of arguments and approaches about the ways in which stakeholder issues have recently been incorporated into environmental models, to briefly describe some of the TAMUK efforts to develop groundwater models that incorporate stakeholder inputs, and to present and discuss a method in which communication research can be used to obtain stakeholder preferences input into modeling efforts.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009

Mar 20, 2009 Article
The communicative process of weather forecasts issued in the probabilistic form

by Alessio Raimondi

One of the main purposes of weather forecasting is that of protecting weather-sensitive human activities. Forecasts issued in the probabilistic form have a higher informative content, as opposed to deterministic one, since they bear information that give also a measure of their own uncertainty. However, in order to make an appropriate and effective use of this kind of forecasts in an operational setting, communication becomes significatively relevant.The present paper, after having briefly examined the weather forecasts concerning Hurricane Charley (August 2004), tackles the issue of the communicative process in detail.The bottom line of this study is that for the weather forecast to achieve its best predictive potential, an in-depth analysis of communication issues is necessary.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009


Mar 20, 2009 Commentary
Master in science communication: an overview

by Donato Ramani

Science, politics, industry, media, state-run and private organisations, private citizens: everyone has their own demands, their own heritage of knowledge, thoughts, opinions, aspirations, needs. Different worlds that interact, question one another, discuss; in one word: they communicate. It is a complicated process that requires professionals «who clearly understand the key aspects of the transmission of scientific knowledge to society through the different essential communication channels for multiple organizations». The purpose of this commentary is to cast some light upon the goals, the philosophy and the organisation behind some European and extra-European Master’s degrees in science communication. We have asked the directors of each of them to describe their founding elements, their origins, their specific features, their structure, their goals, the reasons why they were established and the evolution they have seen over their history.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009


Mar 20, 2009 Letter
New languages for the spreading of scientific knowledge: broadening the dialog between science and society

by Danielle Pereira Cavalcanti and Cecília C. B. Cavalcanti

The Internet is by far the most intensely used communication tool of today and the main channel of interaction in the globalized world. This technology has opened up a whole new area for the interaction of knowledge: cyberspace, where information is always present and continuously changing. The interactivity that characterizes the virtual media together with the interactive modules developed by science centers and museums make the Internet a whole new space for the popularization of science. In order to stimulate dialog between science and society, Espaço Ciência Viva has decided to employ the Internet to divulge and to popularize scientific knowledge by bringing debates about the advances of science to the daily lives of people. To this end, its website was remodeled, which led to an increase of up to 600% in the number of visitors.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009

Book Reviews

Mar 20, 2009 Book Review
Science on air: a journey through early science programmes in US radio

by Matteo Merzagora

“Science on the air” is an enjoyable and extremely well researched account of the origins of science programming in north American radio. From 1923 to the mid-50s, LaFollette takes us in a journey through the life and programs of many scientists, journalists and storytellers who chosed radio as a medium for science communication. A journey who allow the reader to visit many success, but also many incomprehension and missed opportunities, mainly by scientific institutions, who often failed to understand the potential of radio as a tool for science communication. It is a fully enjoyable journey, that leave the reader with an appetite to know how the US situation relates to other wonderful experiences around the world in the same years, and how those pioneer experiences influenced today's landscape.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009

Mar 20, 2009 Book Review
Scientists' virtues matter. More than ever

by Alessandro Delfanti

In his latest book “The scientific life. A moral history of a late modern vocation”, the social historian of science Steven Shapin addresses the public image of contemporary scientists, their virtues and vocations. Who are, and how they represent themselves, those scientists who work on the edge between industry and academy, and who are responsible for the radical uncertainty embedded in the contemporary production of scientific knowledge? If “people matter”, as Shapin states, the genealogy he provides should encourage us to dig more deeply in the main stage of the virtues and ethos of scientists: the mass media.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009