Participation and science governance


A Science Shop acts as a mission-oriented intermediary unit between the scientific sphere and civil society organizations. It seeks to facilitate citizen-driven open science projects that respond to the needs of civil society organizations and which, typically, include students in the work process. We performed a thematic analysis of a systematically selected literature on Science Shops to understand how the scientific literature reflects the historical evolution of Science Shops in different settings and what factors the literature associates with the rise and fall of the Science Shop. We used the PRISMA methodology to search for scientific papers in indexed journals in eight databases published in English, French and Spanish, and employed the thematic theory approach to extract and systematize our results. Twenty-six scientific articles met the inclusion criteria. We identified three meta-categories and ten sub-topics which can serve as key pointers to guide the set-up and future work of Science Shops. Our results identify a major paradox: Science Shops incorporate public values in their scientific agendas but have difficulties sustaining themselves institutionally as they do not fit the current dominant research paradigm. Science shops represent a persuasive complementary approach to the way science is defined, executed and produced today.


A new regime of science production is emerging from the involvement of non-scientists. The present study aims to improve understanding of this phenomenon with an analysis of 16 interviews with Spanish coordinators of participatory science practices. The results indicate a majority of strategic and captive publics and point to communication as a key tool for the development of successful practices. Five key elements of the degree of integration required to develop a citizen participation in science practice were analysed: derived outputs, level of participant contribution, participation assessment, practice replicability, and participant and facilitator training. Proposals for strategies to remove barriers to citizen participation are the study's principal contribution.


The COVID-19 pandemic was the most prominent feature in the media in 2020. This research analyzes the scientific community's perception of the journalistic coverage of the pandemic in the Spanish media. Based on a survey with the participation of 818 respondents, the study revealed that scientists believe that radio did the best job in reporting the pandemic, whereas television did the worst. Among our findings, it is worthwhile to mention that — according to scientists — the media used sensationalistic tones and reports were not particularly accurate nor realistic. Finally, we included the scientific community's recommendations to treat the subject more appropriately.


For many decades, NGOs and social movements have acted as “alternative” science communicators. They have made strategic use of science to promote their ideological stances, to influence political and/or economic decision-making and to motivate civic action. To date, however, our understanding of science communication in activism has received little critical attention. This set of commentaries acts as a starting point for further research and reflection. The different cases and perspectives urge readers to consider the impact, democratic legitimacy, and relevance of alternative science communication, and the challenges that alternative science communicators pose for science communication and society.


In this series of comments, we argue for Science Communication as an enabler of transdisciplinary, integrative collaboration in the context of today’s complex, multi-stakeholder issues. Participatory design, as a collaborative method, is effective in achieving mutual learning, shared understandings, integrating disciplines and creating solutions that make sense in the multi-layered reality of today’s challenges. Science Communication, therefore, is communication design in transdisciplinary collaborations.


This essay explores the relationship of science communication and public relations and contends that science communication has something to learn from public relations research. I provide an alternate history of public relations, drawn from the history of social movements (activism). I outline two areas from public relations theory: first, notions of human agency and equity in communication and, second, public interest in public communication. In doing so, I highlight how research from critical public relations could contribute to science communication efforts to enable participation with science and technology from wider, more diverse publics.


Today, science and politics are in a complex status of reciprocal dependency. Politics is dependent on scientific expertise in order to adequately address highly complex social problems, and science is fundamentally dependent on public funding and on political regulation. Taken together, the diverse interactions, interrelations and interdependencies of science and politics create a heterogenous and complex patchwork — namely, the science-policy interface. The societal relevance for phenomena such as scientific policy advice, science governance or (politically fostered) science communication have been amplified by the developments of digitalisation and now call for new approaches to clarify the ambiguous relationships within the science-policy interface. This special issue aims to provide a platform for researchers to address communication at the intersection of science and politics from different angles. The research presented in the special issue, thus, aims to reduce the contingency of science-policy communication in its various dimensions and looks to spur further investigations into the science-policy interface.


We explore and discuss the diverse motives that drive science communication, pointing out that political motives are the major driving force behind most science communication programmes including so-called public engagement with science with the result that educational and promotional objectives are blurred and science communication activities are rarely evaluated meaningfully. Since this conflation of motives of science communication and the gap between political rhetoric and science communication practice could threaten the credibility of science, we argue for the restoration of a crucial distinction between two types of science communication: educational/dialogic vs promotional/persuasive.


This study investigates how different segments of the public, with varying degrees of interest in S&T, could formulate opinions on a broader vision and the role they think STI should play in Japanese society through 2020 (Tokyo's Olympic and Paralympic year) and toward 2030. We conducted nine inclusive public engagement activities. Results indicated that the broad public opinions did not completely overlap with officials' opinions, a value of “open and appropriate” was mainly found from the unengaged public, and the visions and values based on their opinions could well be incorporated into the official document. Engaging the disinterested in S&T remains an issue.


Advances in 21st century genetic technologies offer new directions for addressing public health and environmental challenges, yet raise important social and ethical questions. Though the need for inclusive deliberation is widely recognized, institutionalized risk definitions, regulation standards, and imaginations of publics pose obstacles to democratic participation and engagement. This paper traces how the problematic precedents set by the 1975 Asilomar Conference emerge in contemporary discussions on CRISPR, and draws from a recent controversy surrounding field trial releases of genetically modified mosquitoes to explicate the ways in which these precedents undermine efforts to engage publics in decisions at the science-policy interface.


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