Public engagement with science and technology

09/06/2021

As several recent National Academies of Sciences reports have highlighted, greater science communication research is needed on 1) communicating chemistry, and 2) building research-practice partnerships to advance communication across science issues. Here we report our insights in both areas, gathered from a multi-year collaboration to advance our understanding of how to communicate about chemistry with the public. Researchers and practitioners from science museums across the U.S. partnered with academic social scientists in science communication to develop and conduct multi-strand data collections on chemistry communication and informal education. Our focus was on increasing interest in, the perceived relevance of, and self-efficacy concerning chemistry through hands-on activities and connecting chemistry to broader themes concerning everyday life and societal impacts. We outline challenges and benefits of the project that future collaborations can gain from and illustrate how our strands of work complemented each other to create a more complete picture of public perceptions of chemistry.

10/05/2021

Science communication continues to grow, develop and change, as a practice and field of research. The boundaries between science and the rest of society are blurring. Digitalization transforms the public sphere. This JCOM special issue aims to rethink science communication in light of the changing science communication landscape. How to characterize the emerging science communication ecosystem in relation to the introduction of new media and actors involved? What new practices are emerging? How is the quality of science communication maintained or improved? We present a selection of papers that provide different perspectives on these questions and challenges.

10/05/2021

This article contributes to reflective practice amongst scientists who engage with citizens in the digital public sphere, by exploring the scientists' experiences and underlying perspectives on their role repertoires in online science-society interactions. Semi-structured interviews were held with 26 European scientists to investigate their focus and contribution in boundary interactions, perspective on appropriate model of science communication, and activities, outputs and addressees in the digital public sphere — together comprising a role repertoire. The intended role of scientists often did not match with their deployed repertoire in online interactions with citizens. Participants were left with the feeling that the digital public sphere provides hollow interactions, devaluates scientific expertise or even represents a hostile environment. In order to capitalise on the promise of the digital public sphere for constructive interactions with a diverse public, a reflective practice is needed that aligns scientists' intended contribution to science-society interactions with the scientists' perspective and deployed online repertoires.

10/05/2021

Internet technologies and specifically social media have drastically changed science communication. The public no longer merely consume science-related information but participate (for example, by rating and disseminating) and generate their own content. Likewise, scientists are no longer dependent on journalists as gatekeepers to spreading relevant information. This paper identifies and reflects on relevant theoretical strands that help to inform theoretical frameworks and research agendas. Therefore, we discuss the technological structures and resulting affordances, a new knowledge order and its actors, as well as trust and rationality as important constructs.

10/05/2021

This paper investigates the dimensions of trust and the role of information sources and channels in developing differentiated forms of science communication. The discussions from two public consultations carried out in Italy and Slovakia about controversial science-related topics were quali-quantitatively content analysed. The results show that scientific knowledge pervades diverse communication spheres, producing differentiated paths of trust in science. Each path is determined by topics (environment or health-related), information sources and channels preferred, and specific features of the multifaceted notion of trust. The contribution discusses cross-national commonalities and specificities and proposes implications for science communication.

10/05/2021

This paper explains how a participative approach was used to collect first-hand citizens’ suggestions on how to improve science communication regarding Climate Change. A public consultation involving citizens from 5 different European countries revealed various perspectives concerning their communication preferences on scientific topics. Five main themes emerged following citizens' proposals for better communication and involvement: producer of information, medium, message strategies, audiences and areas of action and engagement.

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'.

10/05/2021

Communities of practice in science communication can make important contributions to public engagement with science but are under-researched. In this article, we look at the perspectives of a community of practice in astronomy communication regarding (relations with) their public(s). Most participants in this study consider that public(s) have several deficits and vulnerabilities. Moreover, practitioners have little to no contact with (and therefore make no use of) academic research on science communication. We argue that collaboration between science communication researchers and practitioners could benefit the science-public relationship and that communities of practice may be critical to that purpose.

19/04/2021

Digital citizen science projects differ greatly in their goals and design. Tensions arise when coordinators' design choices and conceptions of citizen science conflict with users' motivations and expectations. In this paper, we use a combination of qualitative methods to gain new insights into the ways citizen science is understood and implemented digitally. This includes a study into the affordances of two citizen science portals for bird observations, and qualitative interviews with users and coordinators of the portals. This reveals tensions related to data sharing, community hierarchies, and communicated expectations. Awareness of these tensions can benefit the future design of online citizen science projects.

15/03/2021

Engaging communities at risk of social exclusion poses a big challenge for science communicators. We schematize a framework for projects using science & art to promote social inclusion, composed of 3 phases — design, plan and collaboration; implementation; and evaluation. We present a case study that aimed to engage with a community of migrant senior women, mostly illiterate. Our findings suggest high engagement was achieved by building trust, involving emotions, choosing a relatable topic and following participatory practices. Inclusive activities occurred on the short-term, but for medium-term impact, community insiders need to be regarded as a second audience.

Pages

Subscribe to Public engagement with science and technology