Science communication: theory and models

26/07/2021

To address science literacy issues, university faculty have to engage in effective science communication. However, social pressures from peers, administration, or the public may silence their efforts. The purpose of this study was to understand the effect of the spiral of silence on faculty's engagement with science communication. A survey was distributed to a census of tenure-track faculty at the University of Florida [UF], and the findings did not support the spiral of silence was occurring. However, follow-up interviews revealed faculty did not perceive their peers to value science communication and were more concerned about how the public felt about their research and communication.

17/06/2021

Public engagement with science activities need to be extended beyond traditional learning venues (e.g., museums, schools) to increase public access. Scientists are motivated to carry out this work; however, it is difficult to scale up training to support the implementation of engagement activities in non-traditional venues. Such training would need to be applicable to different engagement contexts, while avoiding a “one size fits all” approach. We describe the guiding principles, challenges, and design choices of a training program in the United States to support scientists in designing and implementing audience-specific engagement activities in a range of non-traditional venues.

26/05/2021

Little is known about how incidental exposure to news, interpersonal discussion, and the diversity of social networks interact in social media environments and for science-related issues. Using a U.S. nationally representative survey, we investigate how these features relate to factual knowledge of gene editing. Incidental exposure to science-related news interacts with interpersonal discussion and network heterogeneity and reveals that the relationship between incidental exposure to news and knowledge is strongest among those who discuss the least. Incidental exposure could alleviate knowledge gaps between the Facebook users who are the most and least involved in interpersonal discussions about science.

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

The pace and scope of digital transformation has brought about fundamental changes to science communication. These changes have so far hardly been reflected in the underlying concepts of science communication as field of research and practice. Against this backdrop, this paper asks how science communication can be conceptualized in response to fundamental societal changes brought about by digital transformation. In response to this question, this paper builds on the results of a Delphi study with 31 outstanding international science communication scholars. It presents a shared approach that conceptualizes online science communication broadly and tackles different points of view by identifying specific characteristics that enable the distinction of different settings of science communication. It is argued that such an approach should be more appropriate for a contemporary analysis of science communication and also helpful for professional communicators and policymakers to understand the interactions of science and society in the context of the digital media landscape.

10/05/2021

In this essay the authors reflect on some recent trends in science communication research, celebrating it as an inherently interdisciplinary endeavour. Some current tendencies in science communication are more limiting, however: they present theoretical and strategic prescriptions that do not adquately reflect the variety and cultural diversity of science communication internationally. Rethinking science communication in the context of such diverse practices and cultural reorientations, the authors revise some of their own views and revisit notions of communication as conversation to propose an inclusive definition of science communication as the social conversation around science.

10/05/2021

Although the need to improve quality of science communication is often mentioned in public discussions, the science communication literature offers few conceptualizations of quality. We used a concept mapping approach, involving representatives of various science communication stakeholder groups working collaboratively, to propose a framework of quality. The framework organizes individual elements of quality into twelve indicators arranged into three dimensions: trustworthiness and scientific rigour, presentation and style, and connection with society. The framework supports science communicators in reflecting on their current practices and designing new activities, potentially improving communication effectiveness.

10/05/2021

Communities are rarely seen as the ideal level at which to focus science communication efforts, compared to the individual, psychological or mass, societal levels. Yet evidence from allied fields suggests building interpersonal relationships with specific communities over time is key to meaningful engagement, so orienting science communication towards communities is warranted. In this paper, we argue this case. We review previous studies, identifying three existing models of community-oriented science communication, which we label ‘neighbourly’, ‘problem-solving’ and ‘brokering’. We illustrate the effectiveness of the ‘problem-solving’ approach and the desirable ideal of ‘brokering’ using recent examples of community-oriented science communication from Australia.

10/05/2021

Citizen science is a transdisciplinary approach that responds to the current science policy agenda: in terms of supporting open science, and by using a range of science communication instruments. In particular, it opens up scientific research processes by involving citizens at different phases; this also creates a range of opportunities for science communication to happen This article explores methodological and practical characteristics of citizen science as a form of science communication by examining three case studies that took different approaches to citizens' participation in science. Through these, it becomes clear that communication in citizen science is ‘÷always’ science communication and an essential part of “doing science”.

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