Professionalism, professional development and training in science communication

10/06/2022

Both research and anecdote in science communication suggests that it is a field where women feel ‘at home’, with high numbers of women science communicators and students on training programmes, but why might this be the case? Using data gathered from a survey of 459 science communicators based in Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden and the U.K., we examine the perspectives of female science communicators, in terms of working practices, motivations and barriers to communicate.

26/04/2022

In 2020, National Science Week events shifted online in response to Australian COVID-19 restrictions. Our research captures this rapid pivot from in-person to online science events, exploring experiences through audience and presenter questionnaires, and follow-up interviews. We examine characteristics of audiences for online science events, benefits and barriers of these events, and opportunities for online engagement. Key benefits were ease of attendance, new experiences enabled online, and greater control and flexibility. Lack of social interaction, technology issues, and audience reliability were identified as barriers. Our research suggests online events operate in a different sphere to in-person events and informs the delivery of engaging online experiences.

11/04/2022

In this editorial, we reflect on our new roles as Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editor of JCOM. We acknowledge the work of previous editors of JCOM, the Editorial Office and the wider JCOM community who have contributed to the success of the journal. We introduce the new Editorial Board and future directions for the journal, and we encourage suggestions from authors, reviewers and readers for taking the journal forward.

28/03/2022

Concepts underpinning participatory science communication have much to offer science communication training and capacity building. This paper investigates a capacity building program with 15 science communicators from nine African countries involved in a six-week program in Australia. Data was collected via surveys, observations, informal interactions and ongoing relationships tracking program outcomes. Key features with a participatory nature included: holistic programs giving participants diverse skills and entry points; ensuring participant's freedom, agency, autonomy and self-efficacy; real-world networking as a self-directed participatory process; participant-led design processes to build skills for creating programs; and, embedding training in real-world contexts with deliberately selected publics.

21/03/2022

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.

17/01/2022

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.

06/12/2021

The article presents the results of a survey of science journalists from six world regions about their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The responses show perception of increasing workload for most participants. Local scientists and peer-reviewed articles are the main sources. According to the respondents, scientists have become more available during the pandemic. The use of preprint articles was a frequent practice, but a considerable proportion declared they did not adopt different procedures when reporting them. Most also said they take fake news into account when writing their stories.

11/10/2021

In 2021 Sweden’s first national portal for citizen science will be launched to help researchers practice sustainable and responsible citizen science with different societal stakeholders. This paper present findings from two surveys on attitudes and experiences of citizen science among researchers at Swedish universities. Both surveys provided input to the development of the national portal, for which researchers are a key stakeholder group. The first survey (n=636) was exclusively focused on citizen science and involved researchers and other personnel at Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU). 63% of respondents at SLU had heard about citizen science (CS) prior to the survey; however a majority of these (61%) had not been involved in any CS initiative themselves. Dominant reasons for researchers choosing a CS approach in projects were to enable collection of large amounts of data (68%), improving the knowledge base (59%), improving data quality (25%), promote participants’ understanding in research (21%) and promote collaboration between the university and society (20%). The other survey (n=3 699) was on the broader topic of communication and open science, including questions on CS, and was distributed to researchers from all Swedish universities. 61% of respondents had not been engaged in any research projects where volunteers were involved in the process. A minority of the researchers had participated in projects were volunteers had collected data (18%), been involved in internal or external communication (16%), contributed project ideas (14%) and/or formulated research questions (11%). Nearly four out of ten respondents (37%) had heard about CS prior to the survey. The researchers were more positive towards having parts of the research process open to citizen observation, rather than open to citizen influence/participation. Our results show that CS is a far from well-known concept among Swedish researchers. And while those who have heard about CS are generally positive towards it, researchers overall are hesitant to invite citizens to take part in the research process.

20/09/2021

A novel and original take on the history of popular science showcases that making science accessible to the public has been part of scientific activity since ancient times. Under this lens, and through twenty-one case studies, current trends such as sci-art and virtual technology can be seen as part of a continuum that was already present in the use of aesthetic and rhetorical tools by the ancient Greeks. Thanks to a careful curation of the collection of texts, this volume as a whole offers more than the sum of its parts (chapters).

15/09/2021

This study examines early-career scientists' cognition, affect, and behaviors before, during, and after a series of science communication training workshops drawing from the Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) and Theory of Planned Behavior theoretical models. We find correlations between engagement (throughout the training), self-reported knowledge and intention to apply their science communication skills. We discuss implications of these findings for science communication training, in particular that science communication behaviors and investment in skill development appear to be more dependent on attitudes and motivations cultivated during the training, rather than their attitudes and motivations coming in.

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