Science communication: theory and models

20/06/2018

We investigate the impact of a science documentary on individuals' intention to engage in information-related behaviors by experimentally testing the effects of source type (scientist, politician, or anonymous source) and communication setting (interview or lecture) using a manipulated clip from the documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Our results indicate that, compared to anonymous sources, use of authoritative ones result in greater intention to engage in some information-related behaviors. Additionally, our results suggest that increased intentions to engage in exchanging information can be attributed to negative affect induced by the clip featuring a politician. Implications for documentary films and science communication are discussed.

07/05/2018

This meta-article aims to explore the role of uncertainty in knowing in informal science learning contexts. Subjects (N=2591) were sixth-graders from four countries. In addition to the correct and incorrect questionnaire alternatives, there was a "don't know" option to choose if uncertain of the answer. The unique path-analysis finding showed that the role of motivation was uniformly positive on correct and negative on uncertainty of answers. In all contexts the number of correct answers increased, incorrect and uncertain answers decreased. Interestingly, although there was no more difference in knowledge pro boys after the intervention, the girls were still more uncertain.

23/01/2018

Visual narratives, such as comics and animations, are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for science education and communication. Combining the benefits of visualization with powerful metaphors and character-driven narratives, comics have the potential to make scientific subjects more accessible and engaging for a wider audience. While many authors have experimented with this medium, empirical research on the effects of visual narratives in science communication remains scarce. This review summarizes the available evidence across disciplines, highlighting the cognitive mechanisms that may underlie the effects of visual narratives.

13/12/2017

This issue of JCOM explores the question ‘what works in science communication?’ from a variety of angles, as well as focusing on the politically sensitive topic of climate change. In addition, the issue contains a set of commentaries that explore the sometimes conflicting roles of universities in science communication.

13/12/2017

This paper analyzes data collected but not reported in the study featured in van der Linden, Leiserowitz, Feinberg, and Maibach [van der Linden et al., 2015]. VLFM report finding that a “scientific consensus” message “increased” experiment subjects' “key beliefs about climate change” and “in turn” their “support for public action” to mitigate it. However, VLFM fail to report that message-exposed subjects' “beliefs about climate change” and “support for public action” did not vary significantly, in statistical or practical terms, from those of a message-unexposed control group. The paper also shows how this absence of an experimental effect was obscured by a misspecified structural equation model.

13/12/2017

In this paper, we respond to the critiques presented by [Kahan, 2017]. Contrary to claims that the scientific consensus message did not significantly influence the key mediator and outcome variables in our model, we show that the experiment in [van der Linden et al., 2015] did in fact directly influence key beliefs about climate change. We also clarify that the Gateway Belief Model (GBM) is theoretically well-specified, empirically sound, and as hypothesized, the consensus message exerts a significant indirect influence on support for public action through the mediating variables. We support our conclusions with a large-scale replication.

28/11/2017

This article aims to present a critical analysis of the book entitled “Creative Research Communication ― Theory and Practice”, written by Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp (Manchester University Press, 2016). We aim to present the structure of the book, highlighting its strengths and successes. Although some chapters focus on the UK, the book offers a wide range of examples of practical activities for the communication of research of global interest and provides very useful tips. Ethical issues and the importance of evaluation, of how to do carry out such evaluation and dissemination, are also presented in an inspiring way. Well-written and objective, the book is a must-read for anyone who works, or aspires to work, in the field of public engagement with research.

21/11/2017

This study explored how different presentations of an object in deep space affect understanding, engagement, and aesthetic appreciation. A total of n = 2,502 respondents to an online survey were randomly assigned to one of 11 versions of Cassiopeia A, comprising 6 images and 5 videos ranging from 3s to approximately 1min. Participants responded to intial items regarding what the image looked like, the aesthetic appeal of the image, perceptions of understanding, and how much the participant wanted to learn more. After the image was identified, participants indicated the extent to which the label increased understanding and how well the image represented the object. A final item asked for questions about the image for an atronomer. Results suggest that alternative types of images can and should be used, provided they are accompanied by explanations. Qualitative data indicated that explanations should include information about colors used, size, scale, and location of the object. The results are discussed in terms of science communication to the public in the face of increasing use of technology.

20/09/2017

What is it that really makes communicating science a good, moral thing to do? And are there limits to the potential ‘goodness’ of science communication? In this article, we argue it is time we consider what an ethics of science communication might look like. Not only will this help us figure out what doing the right, moral thing might be. It also invites us to think through one of the most perplexing, challenging and pressing question for this still emerging field: what are the core unifying features of science communication?

18/09/2017

Science communicators develop qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate the ‘impact’ of their work however narrative is rarely adopted as a form of evaluation. We posit narrative as an evaluative approach for research projects with a core science communication element and offer several narrative methods to be trialled. We use citizen science projects as an example of science communication research seeking to gain knowledge of participant-emergent themes via evaluations. Storied experience of participant involvement enhances understanding of context-based and often intangible processes, such as changing place-relations, values, and self-efficacy, by enabling a reflective space for critical-thinking and self-reflection.

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