Professionalism, professional development and training 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.

17/06/2021

Public engagement with science activities need to be extended beyond traditional learning venues (e.g., museums, schools) to increase public access. Scientists are motivated to carry out this work; however, it is difficult to scale up training to support the implementation of engagement activities in non-traditional venues. Such training would need to be applicable to different engagement contexts, while avoiding a “one size fits all” approach. We describe the guiding principles, challenges, and design choices of a training program in the United States to support scientists in designing and implementing audience-specific engagement activities in a range of non-traditional venues.

10/05/2021

European science communication project QUEST surveyed and reviewed different aspects of European science communication, including science journalism, teaching and training in science communication, social media activity, and science in museums. This article draws together themes that collectively emerge from this research to present an overview of key issues in science communication across Europe. We discuss four central dynamics — fragmentation within research and practice; a landscape in transition; the importance of format and context; and the dominance of critical and dialogic approaches as best practice — and illustrate these with empirical material from across our datasets. In closing we reflect upon the implications of this summary of European science communication.

10/05/2021

In the changing science communication landscape, researchers may govern their public science-society relations through the social media connections at their fingertips. However, digital media outreach may create challenges for researchers and cause changes in the communication professionals' role. The aim of this qualitative interview study was to enhance understanding of the challenges in the rarely explored organizational collaboration between researchers and communication professionals. The results identify ambiguous duties and responsibilities, as well as blurring boundaries of occupational roles and coordination challenges in content production.

10/05/2021

The promotion of quality is a critical aspect to consider in the re-examination of science communication. This problem is analysed in the research carried out by the QUEST project, as featured in this paper. Engaging key stakeholders in a codesign process — through interviews, focus groups, workshops and surveys — the research identified barriers to quality science communication and on the basis of these, proposes a series of tools and supporting material that can serve as incentives toward quality science communication for different stakeholders across the fields of journalism, social media, and museum communication. And it highlights in particular the significance of training in order to promote professionalism amongst communicators.

10/05/2021

When analysing the actors of the science communication ecosystem, scholarly research has focused on the perceptions and attitudes of scientists, science journalists, and science communicators. How the public envisages the roles of science producers and mediators is mostly uncharted territory. We address this gap, by examining the results of a public consultation in Portugal concerning science communication. We show that the public demonstrates a clear preference for science communication performed by scientists, over journalists, although credibility and trust depend on multiple factors. We also ascertain that professional science communicators are mostly invisible, though the public recognises the value of `translators'.

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