In this Editorial, I reflect on my time as Editor in Chief of JCOM and thank the community of scholars and practitioners who have helped to ensure the success of JCOM by generously contributing their time as reviewers, as well as authors and readers. This community has made my time as Editor in Chief rewarding and informative, as I have learned more and more about our diverse field. I am sure that JCOM will continue to grow and develop under the directorship of Michelle Riedlinger and Marina Joubert.
Although research has been performed on participatory mechanisms in science and technology such as brokering, little seems written on intermediary organizations, e.g. science museums, taking up and embedding a participation brokerage role and systemic factors influencing these. This paper presents a qualitative case study in which six different intermediary organizations developed their participation brokerage role in a European RRI project. We demonstrate how structuring factors in the project context, the intermediary organization and the broader systemic context influenced the participation brokerage role take-up and embedding. Our findings yield implications for future capacity building endeavors among participation brokers in the making.
Genetics literacy is crucial for making informed decisions. However, perceived complexity, educational gaps, and misleading media narratives make reaching diverse populations difficult. Interventions to improve genetics literacy beyond K—12 classrooms should center on building science trust and self-efficacy. We used a mixed methods approach to survey 12 museums with genetics content and found 3 framing devices, “Genetics is Fun,” “Genetics is Relevant,” and “Genetics is Discovery.” While each framing strategy leads to high engagement with genetics topics, these approaches differed in ways that affect ability to learn and how genetics is perceived. Exhibit creators should consider design ramifications when creating a genetics exhibit that builds genetic literacy.
The Story Collider applies the principles of narrative transportation to produce events that use first-person, personal stories about science to activate audience emotion, empathy, and identities. This study sought to systematically explore underlying patterns in the subjective experience of these live shows. This study combined a research framework from the performing arts with Q methodology, a method designed to capture and quantify subjectivity of personal meaning. This revealed four profiles, each representing a distinct way that one can internalize the value of science storytelling. Results highlight an opportunity within programs that operate at the nexus of science communication and the arts.
This paper focuses on developing and assessing a non-obtrusive and transformative method, based on virtual reality, to evaluate science communication projects in science centres. The method was tested using deep-sea cutting-edge scientific content. We applied a mixed design, with 72 adult participants randomly assigned to experimental conditions (with/without exhibition exposure). Results showed that the exhibition promoted a better understanding of science. The non-obtrusive measures on awareness and engagement were positively related with questions posed via questionnaire and interview. The study adds theoretical and empirical support to the design and implementation of non-obtrusive and transformative evaluation experiences in science exhibitions in science centres and museums.
This essay examines a highly popular comic series published in Spain between 1969 and 1970 which focused on Felix Rodríguez de la Fuente (1928–1980), a prominent and influential naturalist and media icon, as main character. These comics constitute a remarkably illustrative example of the use of popular media in processes of construction of natural history knowledge. Situated in the complex final years of Franco's regime, they allow us to probe the combined role of science, media, and celebrity in the construction of a visual environmental culture through storytelling strategies designed to engage young audiences in naturalist-like practices.
Accurate news media reporting of scientific research is important as most people receive their health information from the media and inaccuracies in media reporting can have adverse health outcomes. We completed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of a journal article, the corresponding press release and the online news reporting of a scientific study. Four themes were identified in the press release that were directly translated to the news reports that contributed to inaccuracies: sensationalism, misrepresentation, clinical recommendations and subjectivity. The pressures on journalists, scientists and their institutions has led to a mutually beneficial relationship between these actors that can prioritise newsworthiness ahead of scientific integrity to the detriment of public health.
Citizen science opens the scientific knowledge production process to societal actors. In this novel collaboration process, scientists and citizens alike face the challenge of new tasks and functions, eventually resulting in changing roles. Role theory provides a way of conceptualizing the roles that people take in communication and interaction. We use role theory to create a framework that identifies scientists' and citizens' tasks in citizen science projects, main aims of communication, spaces they interact in, and their roles — thus providing a structured way to capture communication and interaction in and about CS for further scientific reflection and practical application.
Despite being a critical environmental problem, soil pollution is not usually considered as a relevant issue by the general public. This disinterest derives from traditional procedures to assess soil pollution that are quite complex and costly, not considering any form of citizen involvement. Seeking to challenge this situation, the project “Nuestros Suelos” (Our Soil) aimed at designing and testing a low-cost participative soil pollution assessment toolkit. The final prototype included several participative modules, going from an assessment of the history of local soils to measuring heavy metals such as Arsenic and Copper. Tested with low-income communities in northern Chile, the toolkit was able not only to produce multiple kinds of data but also a public that started to understand and care about the issue.
The ‘Born or Built? — Our Robotic Future’ (‘BOB?’) exhibition examines relationships between humans, robots and artificial intelligence. It encourages visitors to explore ethical and social issues surrounding these new technologies and invites visitors to post their own questions. We examine visitor responses to the exhibit “A of the Day”, which encourages visitors to engage by writing down their own question prompted by their experience in ‘BOB?’. As responses were submitted, it became apparent that the questions posed by visitors were potentially a valuable contribution to future science communication policy about robotics, and to those designing and implementing these technologies. We performed a content analysis that distilled themes in visitors' open-ended questioning that conveyed visitor knowledge and insight into what science communication about robotic technologies needs to address. Taken this way, visitors' questions form a moment of dialogue between the public and science communicators, engineers and researchers in which visitors contribute their knowledge and ideas about robotics. Such moments of dialogue are potentially valuable if the public is to be included in the development of robotics technology to build trust in robotics technology.
Justin Gest's book “Mass appeal. Communicating policy ideas in multiple media” illustrates how to communicate research effectively. He offers insights into different mediums and provides practical examples of each. While the author has a background in policy research, his ideas and insight are of interest to a much broader audience with an interest in science communication.