Public understanding of science and technology

28/03/2017

This article proposes a classification of the current differences between online videos produced specifically for television and online videos produced for the Internet, based on online audiovisual production on climate change. The classification, which consists of 18 formats divided into two groups that allow comparisons to be made between television and web formats, was created through the quantitative and qualitative content analysis of a sample of 300 videos. The findings show that online video's capacity to generate visits is greater when it has been designed to be broadcast on the Internet than when produced for television.

09/03/2017

This paper briefly describes a new academic discussion project first presented on November 29th, 2016, at the "Universum Sciences Museum" in Mexico City. Interdisciplinary professionals comprise the Museological Reflections Group (MRG), whose aim is to think and explore new possibilities for science museums. The group's first edition, offered the theme "The Sciences behind Showcases: Anthropological and Archaeological Processes".

21/10/2016

The phenomenon of lay readers of neuroscience being positively biased by the mere presence of brain images (fMRI), has been hotly debated, with recent failures to replicate the phenomenon, and suggestions that context is important. We experimentally investigated the potentially biasing effect of neuroimagery on participants' beliefs and explored an important facet of context within a neuroscience article: whether the article was supportive or critical of fMRI use in detecting states of mind. Results supported recent arguments that a “neurorealism” effect may in part be an artifact of experimental design; but we also report evidence that context may be critical.

07/06/2016

"Genetically Modified Organisms" are not a consistent category: it is impossible to discuss such a miscellaneous bunch of products, deriving from various biotech methods, as if they had a common denominator. Critics are too often pre-emptively suspicious of peculiar risks for health or the environment linked to this ill-assorted ensemble of microorganisms, plants or animals: yet, even before being unscientific, the expression "GMO(s)" has very poor semantic value. Similarly, claims that recombinant DNA technology is always safe are a misjudgement: many unsatisfactory "GMOs" have been discarded, as has happened also for innumerable agri-food outcomes, obtained via more or less traditional field and lab methods. The scientific consensus, i.e. the widespread accord among geneticists, biologists and agriculturalists, maintains that every biotech invention has to be examined case by case, evaluating the unique profile of each new organism ("GMO" or otherwise): to assess its safety, the technique(s) used to produce it are irrelevant. Therefore, in considering "green" biotechnologies, a triple mantra should be kept in mind: 1. product, not process; 2. singular, not plural; 3. a posteriori, not a priori. Both people's and law-makers' attitude to agricultural biotechnologies should be reoriented, and this is an interesting task for science communicators: they should explain how meaningless and misleading the "GMO" frame is, debunking a historical, ongoing socio-political blunder, clarifying to the public what most life scientists have been recommending for several decades.

26/05/2016

The letter compares and contrasts thinking about making science accessible and relevant to children in science centres and museums with thinking about communication in social history museums.

20/04/2016

There is growing recognition that effective science communication should not merely focus on addressing scientific literacy but must also open dialogue between scientists and the public, build trust, and increase public interest in environmental research. Citizen science BioBlitzes offer a useful approach for science communicators to address many of these key aims. We explore the BioBlitz concept, learnings and outcomes based on a case study of a BioBlitz held in Sydney, Australia. We found that participants valued learning about biodiversity on the day and importantly, all participants (scientists and citizen scientists) rated interacting and learning from the experience as one of the main benefits.

20/04/2016

We investigate the development of scientific content knowledge of volunteers participating in online citizen science projects in the Zooniverse (http://www.zooniverse.org). We use econometric methods to test how measures of project participation relate to success in a science quiz, controlling for factors known to correlate with scientific knowledge. Citizen scientists believe they are learning about both the content and processes of science through their participation. We don't directly test the latter, but we find evidence to support the former — that more actively engaged participants perform better in a project-specific science knowledge quiz, even after controlling for their general science knowledge. We interpret this as evidence of learning of science content inspired by participation in online citizen science.

24/11/2015

The ever-changing nature of academic science communication discourse can make it challenging for those not intimately associated with the field ― scientists and science-communication practitioners or new-comers to the field such as graduate students ― to keep up with the research. This collection of articles provides a comprehensive overview of the subject and serves as a thorough reference book for students and practitioners of science communication.

29/09/2015

The drive for impact from research projects presents a dilemma for science communication researchers and practitioners — should public engagement be regarded only as a mechanism for providing evidence of the impact of research or as itself a form of impact? This editorial describes the curation of five commentaries resulting from the recent international conference
‘Science in Public: Research, Practice, Impact’. The commentaries reveal the issues science communicators may face in implementing public engagement with science that has an impact; from planning and co-producing projects with impact in mind, to organising and operating activities which meet the needs of our publics, and finally measuring and evaluating the effects on scientists and publics in order to ‘capture impact’.

14/05/2015

Communication of scientific knowledge has been caught up in a pedagogical struggle between science literacy ideologies. The backseat role taken by the teaching of the philosophical and sociological aspects of science has come under fire by those calling for a broader view of science to be made public under the umbrella term “critical science literacy”. In this paper, we argue that the lack of unfinished science in museums — science still in the making or still being debated — is a paradigm case where the richer, fuller view of science is being denied air by the presentation of science as a finished, objective set of facts. We argue that unfinished science offers us the opportunity to present the full complexity of science, including its social and philosophical aspects, and thus enabling the “critical” of critical science literacy.

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