Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014


Dec 19, 2014 Editorial
Exploring serendipitous dialogue

by Emma Weitkamp

Over the past decades there has been an increasing recognition of the need to promote dialogue between science and society. Often this takes the form of formal processes, such as citizen’s juries, that are designed to allow the public to contribute their views on particular scientific research areas. But there are also many less formal mechanisms that promote a dialogue between science and society. This editorial considers science festivals and citizen science in this context and argues that we need a greater understanding of the potential impacts of these projects on the individuals involved, both scientists and the public.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014


Nov 17, 2014 Article
The Holy Grail of energy? A content and thematic analysis of the presentation of nuclear fusion on the Internet

by Christian Oltra, Ana Delicado, Ana Prades, Sergio Pereira and Luisa Schmidt

The Internet is increasingly considered as a legitimate source of information on scientific and technological topics. Lay individuals are increasingly using Internet sources to find information about new technological developments, but scientific communities might have a limited understanding of the nature of this content. In this paper we examine the nature of the content of information about fusion energy on the Internet. By means of a content and thematic analysis of a sample of English-, Spanish- and Portuguese-language web documents, we analyze the structural characteristics of the webs, characterize the presentation of nuclear fusion, and study the associations to nuclear fission and the main benefits and risks associated to fusion technologies in the Web. Our findings indicate that the information about fusion on the Internet is produced by a variety of actors (including private users via blogs), that almost half of the sample provided relevant technical information about nuclear fusion, that the majority of the web documents provided a positive portrayal of fusion energy (as a clean, safe and powerful energy technology), and that nuclear fusion was generally presented as a potential solution to world energy problems, as a key scientific challenge and as a superior alternative to nuclear fission. We discuss the results in terms of the role of Internet in science communication.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014

Dec 01, 2014 Article
When quotes matter: impact of outside quotes in a science press release on news judgment

by Paige Brown Jarreau

Scientists often cite discrepancy between scientific values and news values as a primary factor in poor quality science reporting. The goal of this study was to understand how news values including conflict and controversy affect science communicators’ evaluation of press releases containing quotes from outside expert sources. Results of an online survey experiment suggest science communicators find a climate science press release with an outside expert quote that introduces controversy to be more newsworthy. However, when a science communicator attributes relatively high importance to reliability of facts as a guiding principle in story selection, this preference for controversy is reversed.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014


Dec 19, 2014 Essay
Children’s University: sound language styles in a radio programme for/with children

by Josemir Almeida Barros and Debora d’Avila Reis

This essay intends to present and reflect on the production and reception of sound language styles in a radio programme discussing science called Universidade das Criancas UFMG (UFMG Children’s University). This programme, aimed at children, is broadcast on the UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) Educational Radio Station, located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014


Dec 19, 2014 Commentary
Science festivals: do they succeed in reaching beyond the ‘already engaged’?

by Karen Bultitude

The cultural phenomenon of ‘science festivals’ is ever expanding throughout the world, as universities, city and regional governments, and science engagement professionals alike embrace the concept of a focused ‘celebration’ of science. In the past however science festivals have been criticized for neglecting underrepresented audiences. This special issue explores the extent to which current science festivals have managed to engage with diverse publics, and identifies the key challenges facing the future of science festivals, most notably the need for deeper research into the impacts of science festivals.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014

Book Reviews

Dec 19, 2014 Book Review
Social networks and popular understanding of science and health: sharing disparities

by Ann Grand

In this book, Brian G. Southwell discusses how disparities in information-sharing arise and what can be done to alleviate them. In all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons, people have always sought to share information among their family and other social networks. However, this sharing has never been equal: inevitably, some people are better-informed than others and some are more socially-connected than others. At first glance, the plethora of communication tools and technologies available nowadays should help democratise information and reduce disparity but differences in how, when and with whom information is shared create conversation gaps and maintain inequalities. Southwell explores and catalogues information-sharing behaviours, discusses the factors that affect how and why we share information and addresses the questions of why disparities in information-sharing matter and what we can do about the gaps between ‘information-haves’ and ‘information have-nots’.

Volume 13 • Issue 04 • 2014

  • 1