Representations of science and technology


YouTube videos offer a potentially useful vehicle for the communication of science, health, and medical information about COVID-19 to children. Findings from this research showed that primary characters appearing in children's educational YouTube videos about COVID-19 were most often adults, with about an equal number of men and women and few characters from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Primary characters frequently demonstrated and modeled protective health measures. Adult expert characters (medical professionals and scientists) appeared to some extent in these videos. Directive discourse frames appeared most frequently, followed by the informative and persuasive discourse frames when communicating scientific and health information. Changes in the use of informative, directive, and persuasive frames before and after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced guidelines on how to communicate about COVID-19 with children are explored.


In recent years, access to science content production has been democratized. New actors can make their discourses reach large audiences through popular platforms with no institutional gatekeeping. However, it remains unclear which conceptions of the science-society relationship underlie science content created by non-corporate individuals. To explore how science communication cultures of boosters and critics inform this kind of science content in Spanish, we conducted a qualitative content analysis of a sample of 50 videos from ten YouTube science channels. Our results suggest that more accessible science communication does not necessarily entail a democratized view of science but may reinforce a traditional perspective.


Physics is often perceived as difficult, but there has been little research on how physics is reported in the media. In this two-stage content analysis, we examine the portrayal of physics in five major Dutch newspapers. Results show that astronomy and astrophysics is the most prominent field. Furthermore, newspaper articles are triggered almost equally by scientific and non-scientific events. Finally, the majority of described physics concepts are framed as difficult, but journalists do provide explanations for them.


The promise of CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR) genomic editing applied to agriculture is promoted widely by scientists. We utilized textual analysis methods to compare perceptions of this innovation held by various stakeholder groups — scientists, policymakers, farmers, and the general public. Results reveal distinctions in the semantic structure and concepts emphasized across groups. Scientists and policymakers exhibited a high level of technical sophistication while emphasizing the potential societal benefits, while farmers and the general public focused on perceived personal benefits and familiarity with the issue. These results will aid development of message strategies bridging the gap between the scientific community and key publics.


When, to what extent and under what conditions autonomous driving will become common practice depends not only on the level of technical development but also on social acceptance. Therefore, the rapid development of autonomous driving systems raises the question of how the public perceives this technology. As the mass media are regarded as the main source of information for the lay audience, the news coverage is assumed to affect public opinion. The mass media are also frequently criticized for their inaccurate and biased news coverage. Against this backdrop, we conducted a content analysis of the news coverage of autonomous driving in five leading German newspapers. Findings show that media reporting on autonomous driving is not very detailed. They also indicate a slight positive bias in the balance of arguments and tonality. However, as soon as an accident involving an autonomous vehicle occurs, the frequency of reporting, as well as the extent of negativity and detail increase. We conclude that well-informed public opinion requires more differentiated reporting — irrespective of accidents.


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.


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.


Wikipedia has been accused of being biased against challengers to scientific orthodoxy due to efforts by editors having affinities with the Skeptics movement. Examination of Wikipedia, including entries on fluoridation, the origin of AIDS and vaccination, reveals several characteristics typical of a Skeptics sensibility, including the definition of scepticism, lists of deviant ideas, derogatory labelling of heterodox viewpoints, and categories established without reference to reliable sources.


Germany was second in the number of March for Science participants. Applying news value theory, this article analyzes the newsworthiness of the 2018 March for Science in Germany, comparing journalistic (online) reporting on the march (N=86) and Twitter communication about #marchforscience (N=591). The results of the content analyses reveal that news factors were more frequent and reached higher intensities in journalistic reporting than on Twitter. Relevance, prominence, personalization, and influence were the news factors most emphasized by journalists. On Twitter, reach was the only news factor correlating with social media engagement (likes, comments, and retweets).


This article employs quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine images of neurobiology published in a science news database, sampled across a two-year interval. Upon comparing the images to article headlines, the author argues that identifiable digital effects — such as blobs of bright colour, sparks of light, superimposed lines — correlate with articles reporting on new observations of neuronal action. A qualitative semiotic analysis of characteristic examples forwards the idea of a “blurry image”, denoting how audiences must cognitively blur the line between objectivity and subjectivity, between the “real” and the enhanced performative action evident in digital images tingling with vibrant life. The conclusion suggests that digital image making can increase aesthetic pleasability even as it serves as a partner in the cognitive task and, accordingly, the argumentation of the neuroscientist. Future research can investigate whether or not digital overlays and image features identified as obvious and attractive impact assessments of scientific research or alter evaluations of objectivity.


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