Science communication: theory and models

10/06/2022

Practitioners of responsible science communication in Latin American countries face context-dependent challenges ranging from high poverty and inequality to a public from an extremely varied palette of cultural backgrounds. Effort has been done in the region to foster a coherent community of science communicators. This article reflects on the history of science communication in Latin America and how these challenges are being faced.

10/06/2022

There are many different pathways into science communication practice and research. But rarely do these pathways require critical reflection on what it means to be a ‘responsible’ science communicator or researcher. The need for this kind of critical reflection is increasingly salient in a world marked by the wilful disregard of evidence in many high-profile contexts, including politics and, most recently, public health. Responsible science communicators and researchers are audience- and impact-focused, beginning their decision-making process by considering their audiences’ starting positions, needs and values. This article outlines some key considerations for developing socially responsibility for science communication as a field both in terms of practice and research.

28/03/2022

Participatory science communication featured in several sessions and individual papers at the 2021 online conference of the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) Network. This coverage recognises the drive away from linear communication to more participatory forms of science communication. In this special edition we present practice insights, papers and essays that explore participatory science communication. These contributions explore definitions, processes and describe case-studies of participatory science communication which involve a variety of publics, from young school students to Indigenous groups to farmers. In this introductory editorial we reflect on the papers, describe the growth of a participatory approach as part of the continuing evolution of science communication; explore a definition for participatory science communication; and consider some of the key concepts and issues that emerged.

28/03/2022

The language of science communication has moved from deficit to dialogue and talk of a ‘new social contract’ with the public ‘invited to participate’. This paper outlines a practitioner path that begins with storytelling and moves to a more participatory mode of practice of science communication for adaptation to climate change at the community scale. I outline personal practitioner reflections, specifically the need to consider issues of power, place, pain and the need to challenge assumptions. I propose the need to consider context, many forms of local knowledge and expertise, social learning, plus the pain of historical, contemporary or projected loss.

28/03/2022

This practice insight focuses on lessons learned while completing a research project designed to compare the relative effectiveness of three communication strategies in rural communities relative to motivating citizens to take action on a public health issue, specifically Type 2 diabetes. Our main arguments are: 1) Engaging citizens in any type of communication related to public health or science action requires first assessing a community's readiness for that action; and 2) Community readiness — rather than communication methodology — is the better predictor of citizens' participation in collective or individual actions on public health and science issues.

28/03/2022

Building a strong and trustworthy communication network to report unusual signs of disease will facilitate Australia's response to a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. In a four-year study, the FMD Ready Farmer-led surveillance project adopted the Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) framework, modelling transformation of how knowledge is co-created, valued, and communicated. The FMD Ready project has highlighted the need for multiple stakeholders' voices to be heard, and the importance of regulatory bodies to listen. Relationships take time and need to be valued as a necessary tool in a participatory, innovative approach to animal health and disease management.

28/03/2022

While short-term participatory science communication activities have been well researched, long-term programs have received scant attention. Analysing survey data and participant discussions, I investigated interactions between Australian farmers and scientists engaged in the Climate Champion Program (2009–2016). I compared their interactions to three theorised science communication models: deficit, dialogue and participatory. I found their interactions illustrated a mix of the characteristics of all three models. While farmers and scientists appeared to be motivated to interact by deficit and dialogue objectives, respectful and trusting relationships emerged from long-term participation, which was key to making deficit- and dialogue-style communication more effective.

28/03/2022

From ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Do Not Feed the Animals’ takes an engaged approach in which science communication is both process and outcome of the research. The project started in the UK in March 2020, coinciding with government-imposed lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; since the project’s engagement had been designed around in-person interactions, a rapid and creative rethink was needed. This paper outlines the redesign of the project and describes a hybrid model of on-line and in-person engagement, integrating new skills and technologies which the pandemic catalysed, with well-established in-person practice in science communication. Our research develops good practice for online, participatory science communication, and supports the advancement of engaged research more widely.

14/03/2022

Citizen science opens the scientific knowledge production process to societal actors. In this novel collaboration process, scientists and citizens alike face the challenge of new tasks and functions, eventually resulting in changing roles. Role theory provides a way of conceptualizing the roles that people take in communication and interaction. We use role theory to create a framework that identifies scientists' and citizens' tasks in citizen science projects, main aims of communication, spaces they interact in, and their roles — thus providing a structured way to capture communication and interaction in and about CS for further scientific reflection and practical application.

13/12/2021

While most Americans believes in climate change, to elicit action, communicators should use strategies to convey risks. One strategy is to cognitively engage individuals by eliciting curiosity. Previous studies have shown that individuals with higher science curiosity are more likely to perceive the risk of climate change. This study uses scientists’ act of sharing personal anecdotes to elicit curiosity and examines the effect of scientist’s traits on risk perception. Results show that anecdotes do not affect any of the variables. However, there is a positive relationship between curiosity and risk perception, and between trust in scientists and risk perception.

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