Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015


Sep 29, 2015 Editorial
A question of (audience) reach

by Emma Weitkamp

Taking the International Science in Popular Culture conference as a starting point, this editorial considers audiences for cultural products, considering the size of audiences (from blockbuster films, to intimate science slams), their pre-existing (or lack of pre-existing) interest in the subject and what this might offer the field of science communication.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015


Sep 29, 2015 Article
Narrative risks in science writing for the lay public

by Olav Muurlink and Peter McAllister

The narrative method of presenting popular science method promises to extend the audience of science, but carries risks related to two broad aspects of story: the power of narrative to impose a compelling and easily interpretable structure on discrete events and the unpredictability and mystique associated with story.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015


Jul 09, 2015 Essay
Science journalism: the standardisation of information from the press to the internet

by María Dolores Olvera-Lobo and Lourdes Lopez

The standardisation and selectivity of information were characteristics of science journalism in the printed medium that the digital editions of journals have inherited. This essay explores this fact from the international perspective, with a special focus on the Spanish case.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Jul 24, 2015 Essay
“Queue up, you stupid!”: communicating about technology problems. An exploratory study of warning messages posted on machines in public places

by Beatrice Arbulla and Massimiano Bucchi

Communication about technology has long been neglected within the field of science and technology communication. This visual exploratory study focuses on how users can communicate with and about technology in public places through warning signs posted on technological devices.
Three broad categories of messages have been identified: bad design, malfunctioning and disciplining users. By analyzing examples within each category, we suggest that studying these communicative situations can be a key to understanding how users are engaged in continuous, elaborate and sometimes even conflicting framing of technological devices (e.g. with regard to their purpose, appropriate uses, shifting boundaries between functioning/malfunctioning); how such framing, in turn, can be used to readjust/realign social behavior and organizational routines.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Aug 19, 2015 Essay
How to do mass media publicity for a neglected disease. Lessons from Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis in Kenya

by Pamela Olet and Joseph Othieno

The prioritization of neglected diseases in the policy making framework requires heightened advocacy [WHO, 2006]. Mass media positive publicity is among approaches that can be used to achieve this. This paper discusses practical use of mass media to do publicity and advocacy for a neglected disease and its vector. It uniquely presents online links to the analyzed newspaper and television news and opinion articles on tsetse and Trypanosomiasis. The paper shares entry points into mass media advocacy from a lessons learned perspective and notes the importance of understanding how the mass media works in order to achieve advocacy of neglected diseases using sleeping sickness as a case study. 

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Aug 25, 2015 Essay
What is the “science of science communication”?

by Dan Kahan

This essay seeks to explain what the “science of science communication” is by doing it. Surveying studies of cultural cognition and related dynamics, it demonstrates how the form of disciplined observation, measurement, and inference distinctive of scientific inquiry can be used to test rival hypotheses on the nature of persistent public conflict over societal risks; indeed, it argues that satisfactory insight into this phenomenon can be achieved only by these means, as opposed to the ad hoc story-telling dominant in popular and even some forms of scholarly discourse. Synthesizing the evidence, the essay proposes that conflict over what is known by science arises from the very conditions of individual freedom and cultural pluralism that make liberal democratic societies distinctively congenial to science. This tension, however, is not an “inherent contradiction”; it is a problem to be solved — by the science of science communication understood as a “new political science” for perfecting enlightened self-government.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Sep 29, 2015 Essay
Highlighting the value of impact evaluation: enhancing informal science learning and public engagement theory and practice

by Eric A. Jensen

King et al. [2015] argue that ‘emphasis on impact is obfuscating the valuable role of evaluation’ in informal science learning and public engagement (p. 1). The article touches on a number of important issues pertaining to the role of evaluation, informal learning, science communication and public engagement practice. In this critical response essay, I highlight the article’s tendency to construct a straw man version of ‘impact evaluation’ that is impossible to achieve, while exaggerating the value of simple forms of feedback-based evaluation exemplified in the article. I also identify a problematic tendency, evident in the article, to view the role of ‘impact evaluation’ in advocacy terms rather than as a means of improving practice. I go through the evaluation example presented in the article to highlight alternative, impact-oriented evaluation strategies, which would have addressed the targeted outcomes more appropriately than the methods used by King et al. [2015]. I conclude that impact evaluation can be much more widely deployed to deliver essential practical insights for informal learning and public engagement practitioners.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Sep 29, 2015 Essay
RedPOP: 25 years of a Science Communication Network in Latin America

by Luisa Massarani, Claudia Aguirre Rios, Constanza Pedersoli, Elaine Reynoso-Haynes and Luz Marina Lindegaard

The Red de Popularización de la Ciencia y la Tecnología en América latina y el Caribe (RedPOP) (Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Popularization of Science and Technology) was created 25 years ago as an expression of a movement that started in the 1960s in favour of a scientific education. The purpose of this movement was to incorporate science into the general knowledge of the population by communicating science through different media, products and spaces such as museums and science centres. Since then, the movement has acquired considerable strength in Latin America and RedPOP has been a key factor to the development of this activity in the region, although several challenges still have to be addressed.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015


Sep 29, 2015 Commentary
Beyond dissemination — science communication as impact

by Laura Fogg-Rogers, Ana Margarida Sardo and Ann Grand

The drive for impact from research projects presents a dilemma for science communication researchers and practitioners — should public engagement be regarded only as a mechanism for providing evidence of the impact of research or as itself a form of impact? This editorial describes the curation of five commentaries resulting from the recent international conference
‘Science in Public: Research, Practice, Impact’. The commentaries reveal the issues science communicators may face in implementing public engagement with science that has an impact; from planning and co-producing projects with impact in mind, to organising and operating activities which meet the needs of our publics, and finally measuring and evaluating the effects on scientists and publics in order to ‘capture impact’.

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Sep 29, 2015 Letter
A response to “Highlighting the value of impact evaluation: enhancing informal science learning and public engagement theory and practice”

by Heather King and Kate Steiner

Whilst welcoming Jensen’s response to our original paper, we suggest that our main argument may have been missed. We agree that there are many methods for conducting impact assessments in informal settings. However, the capacity to use such tools is beyond the scope of many practitioners with limited budgets, time, and appropriate expertise to interpret findings.
More particularly, we reiterate the importance of challenging the prevailing policy discourse in which longitudinal impact studies are regarded as the ‘gold standard’, and instead call for a new discourse that acknowledges what is feasible and useful in informal sector evaluation practice.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Conference Reviews

Sep 29, 2015 Conference Review
Let’s talk in Medellín: XIV RedPOP Congress “Art, Technology and Science: New ways to know”

by Martha Cambre

RedPOP celebrates its 25th anniversary and the congress was a great occasion to commemorate it. More than 400 attendees from 23 countries around the world had the opportunity to talk about the relationship between art, science, education, public policy on science appropriation, science journalism, and new ways to reach the public audience. At the same time a Science Theater Festival was held. The Congress in numbers: 5 Magisterial Conferences, 245 simultaneous presentations, 8 Working
Groups, 9 simultaneous Workshops, 22 poster and 6 theater plays. 10 countries from Latin America (90Conversation was essential in this congress and everything was prepared to motivate it. Participants had the opportunity to hear voices from Latin America an outside of it through the international keynote. The challenging issues that were raised in the plenary sessions as well as the opportunity to make heard their voices during the Working Groups and to be able to work in the  Workshops with the keynote speakers, made this a motivational meeting.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Sep 29, 2015 Conference Review
World Conference of Science Journalists: what are they for?

by Javier Cruz-Mena

The largest meeting of science journalists took place this summer in Seoul, Korea. It bore the imprint of a few of the previous ones — as a gathering to build community and encourage beginners —, but also showed some marked changes from when it all started back in 1992, as told by some of the leading actors.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

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