Measuring impact may be challenging, but does that mean we should accept a lack of ambition? Researchers in all fields are grappling with the challenge of how to measure impact (in many different contexts, which naturally leads to many different approaches), and so perhaps it is not surprising that the ‘impact culture’ is spreading to public engagement. But is the field rising to the challenge or should we think more broadly about how we demonstrate impact, perhaps freeing individual and smaller projects from the need to measure public impact and allowing them instead to focus on formative development? This editorial explores some of the issues in the field.
In this paper, we investigate who are the explainers who work is Brazilian science centres and museums. We used an online survey, which was answered by 370 people from 73 institutions out of a group of 200 scientific and cultural centres. Our results indicate that most of these professionals are young people between 18 and 25 years old, they hold a high school certificate or are attending university, and they have been working in this field for less than five years. Only a fifth declared that they had done professional training before starting their activities; about 60% said that they are not prepared to attend to disabled visitors. We believe that our study will improve the practice of science communication, contributing to the creation of training and professional courses.
This paper discusses the value and place of evaluation amidst increasing demands for impact. We note that most informal learning institutions do not have the funds, staff or expertise to conduct impact assessments requiring, as they do, the implementation of rigorous research methodologies. However, many museums and science centres do have the experience and capacity to design and conduct site-specific evaluation protocols that result in valuable and useful insights to inform ongoing and future practice. To illustrate our argument, we discuss the evaluation findings from a museum-led teacher professional development programme, Talk Science.
Scientists’ participation in science communication and public engagement activities is considered important and a duty. However, in particular, the science-media relationship has not been studied frequently. In this paper, we present findings from interviews with both scientists and journalists which were guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior. Results show that different behavioural, normative and control beliefs underlie scientists’ and journalists’ participation in science-media interactions. Both groups are positive about science-media interactions, but scientists perceive various disadvantages in this relationship while journalists perceive mainly practical barriers. Enhancing mutual understanding and further research is suggested.
Communication of scientific knowledge has been caught up in a pedagogical struggle between science literacy ideologies. The backseat role taken by the teaching of the philosophical and sociological aspects of science has come under fire by those calling for a broader view of science to be made public under the umbrella term “critical science literacy”. In this paper, we argue that the lack of unfinished science in museums — science still in the making or still being debated — is a paradigm case where the richer, fuller view of science is being denied air by the presentation of science as a finished, objective set of facts. We argue that unfinished science offers us the opportunity to present the full complexity of science, including its social and philosophical aspects, and thus enabling the “critical” of critical science literacy.
Throughout the second half of the twentieth century a varied collection of pressure mechanisms were deployed from nuclear technology exporting countries — mainly from the US — to obstruct the development of a group of semi-peripheral countries’ autonomous nuclear capabilities. Argentina was part of this group. This article focuses on how “fear” of nuclear proliferation was used by US foreign policy as one of the most effective political artifacts to construct and protect an oligopolistic nuclear market.
Spread by the press and by some prestigious social science sectors from the US and some European countries, a persistent and dense discourse production was devoted over several decades to the bizarre practice of “calculating” the alleged hidden intentions of those semi-peripheral countries which aspired to dominate as many technologies of the nuclear
fuel cycle as possible.
A survey was conducted during the University of Manchester’s 2014 ‘Science Extravaganza’, which saw the participation of over 900 Key Stage 3 (ages 11–14) students in a range of interactive demonstrations, all run by active University researchers. The findings of this study suggest that a new approach is necessary in order to use these large science events to actively engage with school students about the career opportunities afforded by science subjects. Recommendations for such an approach are suggested, including the better briefing of researchers, and the invitation of scientists from outside academia to attend and interact with the school students.
The representation of self and the nature of our identities often converge through technological forms. This study investigates the promotional techniques of seven companies selling DNA portraits, the objective being to uncover how these images derived from laboratory processes are viewed as valid depictions of the self and scientific knowledge. DNA portraits are revealed as the intertwining of technology and identity through celebrations of the technoself.
Science and activism are terms which are usually seen as quite separate. Yet, they are inextricably linked, even more so as techno scientific progress permeates contemporary society. The five commentaries in this series provide insights for a discussion about how the (apparent) separation between “value laden” activism and “value free” science is in fact very thin, and how science communication can play a key role in ensuring reflexivity and self criticism in science.