Public understanding of science and technology

25/01/2023

Citizen science projects are valued for their impact on participants' knowledge, attitude and behavior towards science. In this paper, we explore how participation in biodiversity citizen science projects is correlated to different dimensions of trust in science. We conduct a quantitative study through an online survey of 1,199 individuals, 586 of them being part of a biodiversity citizen science program in France. Our results suggest that participation-related trust is more exhaustive — it covers more dimensions of the scientific endeavor — than education-related trust. This exploratory study calls for more empirical research on the links between citizen science and the different dimensions of public trust in science.

18/01/2023

The Covid-19 pandemic escalated demand for scientific explanations and guidance, creating opportunities for scientists to become publicly visible. In this study, we compared characteristics of visible scientists during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic (January to December 2020) across 16 countries. We find that the scientists who became visible largely matched socio-cultural criteria that have characterised visible scientists in the past (e.g., age, gender, credibility, public image, involvement in controversies). However, there were limited tendencies that scientists commented outside their areas of expertise. We conclude that the unusual circumstances created by Covid-19 did not change the phenomenon of visible scientists in significant ways.

23/11/2022

Aiming to address various fundamental questions regarding science communication solutions to a polarized post-COVID-19 world, the IAMCR 2022 Suzhou Pre-conference was held from 8 to 10 July 2022. More than 300 delegates gathered online to discuss a variety of topics related to science communication and public engagement with science in a post-COVID-19 world. With its focus on China, alongside the involvement of leading scholars from around the world, the conference provided an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the factors that shape science communication, and societal responses to science, in different country contexts.

17/10/2022

The Public Awareness of Research Infrastructures (PARI) three-day conference held in July 2022 at the SKA Observatory’s Global Headquarters (U.K.) discussed the science communication issues that practitioners face at research infrastructures, like community building, science diplomacy and equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM. We concluded that we need to bring society within the walls of the scientific facilities as much as we need to help scientists engage with society.

28/09/2022

Social media have become popular channels for sharing and discussing science issues. Drawing from the classic communication theory, Public Arena Model, this paper examines how issue entrepreneurs influenced the Chinese public's cognition of GMO, especially the role of celebrities and scientists in controversial science communication. To answer this question, we used the structural topic modeling method to examine public discussion about GMO on a popular Q&A site in China (Zhihu) from 2014 to 2019 (N=40,101). In study 1, we investigated what the major themes of public discourse are about GMO and the evolution of these themes in general. In study 2, we investigated public discourse in a more specific context, an iconic event in China's GMO history, a debate between a TV celebrity and a scientist, to examine how two major issue entrepreneurs influenced what and how the public deliberated GMO. We found that the issue entrepreneurs' debate increased public discussion on the ‘science communication’ aspect of GMO yet decreased public discussion on the ‘science’ of GMO. Supporters of different entrepreneurs are divided in their attitudes and rhetoric toward GMO. These findings shed new light on how social media is a digital embodiment of the public arena where public deliberation about controversial science occur and evolve.

26/09/2022

‘Science Communication Practice in China’ is a book that does two things. One very intentional, one less so. Intentionally, it presents the state of science communication and popularisation in China with a strong focus on the historical and policy context this is embedded in. Less (or possibly un-)intentionally, it makes explicit both its assumptions about what science communication should aim for and how it should go about its business, as well as forcing the reader to acknowledge their own assumptions of the role and place of science communication.

10/06/2022

Public Engagement with Science calls for scientists to think more reflexively about their research, and how assumptions, power and contexts influence associated communication. To interrogate this, we utilised design to stimulate reflexive thinking about science communication through a residential ‘Engagement Incubator’ that took the form of a pop-up cardboard laundromat. Participants reported an increased appreciation for, and insight into, PES theory, and its relevance to their work. In addition, our experience of enacting PES theory, and reflexive thematic analysis of data collected through the process, deepened our own understanding of PES and reinforced our appreciation of engagement as reproductive, and inherently circular work.

30/05/2022

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranks Mexico in one of the last places in science performance [OECD, 2019]. This has been a concern for some local science communication groups (SCGs) in small and medium-sized cities, whose mission is to fill this disparity by performing science communication (SciCom) activities. The SCGs were contacted via a survey to collect information about their dynamics and public reach. A descriptive analysis enabled the identification of the logistics and coordination issues found among SCGs. Consequently, a local network of science communication groups is advised to reinforce their impact.

23/05/2022

There exist today many forms of anti-scientific beliefs, from extreme views like the QAnon conspiracies, to misconceptions about vaccines and cancer treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented to us a situation in which the public is being asked by medical experts and politicians alike to trust in science and follow after various health recommendations like wearing masks or getting vaccinated against the virus. We used an anti-science belief scale [Morgan et al., 2018] to assess how preexisting beliefs that run counter to the scientific narrative predict behaviors during the pandemic. We found that people who were more accepting of those anti-scientific positions trusted medical information and experts less and engaged less in recommended health behaviors, while simultaneously showing a more favorable view of Trump's actions as President during the pandemic.

28/03/2022

Traditionally, the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures have always adopted a deficit model for communication, with one or two invited scientists giving lectures to an audience present at the Royal Institution (Ri) and, since 1936, an audience watching the lectures on television at home. As trends in public engagement have tended towards more dialogue or participatory models, the Ri has made efforts to create a programme of events around the lectures: extending the experience outside of the lecture theatre and giving audiences more opportunities to experience live events and participate in discourse. In this paper, we explore data collected as part of an 18 month evaluation of the Christmas Lectures and their associated events. We focus on data collected at events designed to create live and interactive experiences beyond the lectures and evaluate these participatory approaches. The paper shares this learning to enhance the extension of traditional science communication towards science participation.

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