Scholarly communication

03/05/2017

Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry. Early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West. The current study is a systematic, bibliographic analysis of a full sample of research papers that were published in the three most prominent journals in the field from 1979 to 2016. The findings reveal that early inequities remain prevalent, but also that there are indications that recent increases in research outputs and trends in authorship patterns ― for example the growth in female authorship ― are beginning to correct some of these imbalances. Furthermore, the current study verifies earlier indications that science communication research is becoming increasingly institutionalised and internationalised, as demonstrated by an upward trend in papers reflecting cross-institutional collaboration and the diversity of countries where authors are based.

28/03/2017

Reflecting on the public role of academics, this issue of JCOM includes a set of commentaries exploring public intellectuals and intellectualism. The commentaries explore the role of academics in public debates, both as bringers of facts and passion. These pieces, together with past commentaries and letters to JCOM raise interesting questions about the role of academics in public debates that are, perhaps not those usually trodden in the academic literature.

17/11/2016

Scientists for whom English is not their first language report disadvantages with academic communication internationally. This case study explores preliminary evidence from non-Anglophone scientists in an Australian research organisation, where English is the first language. While the authors identified similarities with previous research, they found that scientists from non-Anglophone language backgrounds are limited by more than their level of linguistic proficiency in English. Academic science communication may be underpinned by perceptions of identity that are defined by the Anglocentric hegemony in science, which dictates not only how academic science is communicated but also who can communicate it.

20/07/2016

BOOK: Olson, R. (2015). Houston, we have a narrative: Why science needs story. Chicago, U.S.A.: University of Chicago Press

Scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson makes a bold claim: scientists cannot adequately explain their own work. He attributes all of the issues facing science communication today ― false positives, an uninterested public, and unapproved grant proposals ― to scientists' lack of narrative intuition. Rather than turn to the humanities for help, Olson suggests scientists learn from the true masters of storytelling ― Hollywood filmmakers. His latest book examines the age-old divide between science and the humanities, as well as the new adversarial relationship between science and film, which he says can save science.

22/06/2016

Looking back over the past 5 years of articles published in JCOM, this editorial looks at the topics covered and the geographies represented and asks: are we tackling all main contemporary issues in science communication/popularisation or public engagement? It invites you to contribute with your papers, letters, essays and news to help address the holes in our coverage and to enter into dialogue on our Facebook page.

09/06/2016

The use and availability of digital media is changing researchers' roles and simultaneously providing a route for a more engaging relationship with stakeholders throughout the research process. Although the digital realm has a profound influence on people's day-to-day lives, some researchers have not yet professionally embraced digital technologies. This paper arises from one aspect of a project exploring how university research and professional practices are evolving as researchers engage with stakeholders via digital media to create, share and represent knowledge together. Using researchers from the Open University (U.K.) as a case study, this paper reviews the extent to which they are developing multiple identities and functions in their engaged research through digital media.

17/03/2016

The academic journal paper has been around for several hundred years and during that time has seen shifts in style and structure. This editorial explores the traditional research paper and considers whether thinking about the research paper as a story, provides insights into style and structure that would make research both more transparent and more readable.

16/02/2016

Mirror neurons (MN) — or neurons said to be able to "mirror" the sensed environment — have been widely popularized and referenced across many academic fields. Yet, MNs have also been the subject of considerable debate in the neurosciences. Using a criterion based sampling method and a citation analysis, this paper examines the extent of engagement with the neuroscience literature about MNs, looking specifically at the frequency of "MN debate sources" within articles published in the JSTOR and Communication and Mass Media (CMMC) databases. After reporting the results, the paper reviews characteristic examples in context and, ultimately, shows that MN debates remain largely absent from peer-reviewed articles published in JSTOR and CMMC. However, the paper suggests that this happens for good reason and that MNs retain the potential for inventive animations even though debates have gone largely unrecognized.

15/12/2015

Open Science may become the next scientific revolution, but still lingers in a pre-paradigmatic phase, characterised by the lack of established definitions and domains. Certainly, Open Science requires a new vision of the way to produce and share scientific knowledge, as well as new skills. Therefore, education plays a crucial role in supporting this cultural change along the path of science. This is the basic principle inspiring the collection of essays published in this issue of JCOM, which deals with many subjects ranging from open access to the public engagement in scientific research, from open data to the social function of preprint servers for the physicians' community. These are issues that go along with the targets of the FOSTER project (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) funded by the European Union, which has provided interesting food for thought in order to write this commentary.

10/12/2015

This study addresses an open question about science bloggers' self-perceived roles as science communicators. Previous research has investigated the roles science journalists see themselves engaging in, but such research has failed to capture the experiences of science bloggers as a broad and diverse group that is yet often very different in their practices from professional journalists. In this study, a survey of over 600 science bloggers reveals that on the broadest level, science bloggers see themselves engaging most often as explainers of science and public intellectuals. Perceived communication role depends predominantly on occupation, science communication training, blog affiliation and gender.

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