The future challenges within science communication lie in a 'grey area' where the frontiers between production and sharing of knowledge are blurred. An area in which we can satisfy at the same time and within the same activity the autonomous interests of researchers and those of other stakeholders, including lay publics. Settings are emerging, where we can provide real contribution to scientific research and at the same time facilitate the publics in their process of hacking scientific knowledge to serve autonomously defined and often unpredictable functions. Some are linked to research institutes, others to science centres, others are precisely inbetween. This editorial explores why these special places are needed, and present some case studies, leading to the need of interpreting science culture centres as research facilities.
There is a gap between the discipline of economics and the public it is supposedly about and for. This gap is reminiscent of the divide that led to movements for the public understanding of and public engagement with the natural sciences. It is a gap in knowledge, trust, and opinions, but most of all it is a gap in engagement. In this paper we ask: What do we need to think about ― and what do we need to do ― in order to bring economics and its public into closer dialogue? At stake is engaged, critical democracy. We turn to the fields of public understanding of science and science studies for our approach, finding three themes of particular relevance: understanding, expertise, and audience. We then discuss participatory budgeting (PB) as an example of fertile ground for engagement. We argue that with an economic-engagement focus, activities such as PB could be extended into the public-economics gap and provide avenues for an economic equivalent of participatory science: a form of participatory economics.
Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry. Early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West. The current study is a systematic, bibliographic analysis of a full sample of research papers that were published in the three most prominent journals in the field from 1979 to 2016. The findings reveal that early inequities remain prevalent, but also that there are indications that recent increases in research outputs and trends in authorship patterns ― for example the growth in female authorship ― are beginning to correct some of these imbalances. Furthermore, the current study verifies earlier indications that science communication research is becoming increasingly institutionalised and internationalised, as demonstrated by an upward trend in papers reflecting cross-institutional collaboration and the diversity of countries where authors are based.
How users discuss climate change online is one of the crucial questions (science) communication scholars address nowadays. This study contributes by approaching the issue through the theoretical concept of online public arenas. The diversity of topics and perceptions in the climate change discourse is explored by comparing different arenas. German journalistic articles and their reader comments as well as scientific expert blogs are analyzed by quantitative manual and automated content analysis (n=5,301). Findings demonstrate a larger diversity of topics and interpretations in arenas with low barriers to communication. Overall, climate change skepticism is rare, but mostly present in lay publics.
Computational social science represents an interdisciplinary approach to the study of reality based on advanced computer tools. From economics to political science, from journalism to sociology, digital approaches and techniques for the analysis and management of large quantities of data have now been adopted in several disciplines. The papers in this JCOM commentary focus on the use of such approaches and techniques in the research on science communication. As the papers point out, the most significant advantages of a computational approach in this sector include the chance to open up a range of new research opportunities: from the study of technical and scientific controversies to citizen science, from the definition of new norms and practices for science journalism to open science issues. On the other hand, difficulties are shared with other areas of application. The main risk is that the large quantity of data available can overwhelm the importance of theory. Instead, as the papers in this commentary demonstrate, big data should push scientists to pursue a deeper epistemological and methodological reflection also in the research on science communication.
This is a conference review of the 2nd Commemoration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which had the theme Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media. It was held in United Nations Headquarters, New York City, U.S.A., and a parallel event was held simultaneously in Valetta, Malta. There were 45 listed speakers from 24 countries, with a gender ratio of 2:1 in favour of women. The contribution of the media to socio-cultural barriers facing girls and women in STEM was well-illustrated. However, few actionable solutions were proposed.
Science in film is gaining attention from scientists and science communicators. Sixteen experts gathered at the 253rd Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society to explore the role and relevance of science in film. An audience of researchers, academics and students enjoyed first-hand accounts from filmmakers, science consultants and experts in science communication, who all agreed on the important impact the way science is depicted in film has on education, outreach and the relationship between science and society.