CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Special Issue "Connecting Science Communication Research and Practice: Challenges and Ways Forward"

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Special Issue "Connecting Science Communication Research and Practice: Challenges and Ways Forward"

This special issue of JCOM will be devoted to research articles, practical insights and essays focusing on the potential for effective and sustainable collaborations between science communication researchers and practitioners. Our aim is to contribute to the advancement of science communication as a whole and to enable researchers and practitioners to benefit from each other's experience and expertise.

Background and rationale

Various scientific disciplines are contributing to understanding and handling pressing global challenges such as biodiversity loss, climate change, public health, or implications of war, to name but a few. This makes informed and effective communication of scientific content with publics outside specific scientific disciplines, as well as outside the academic system, critically important. Science communication is highly relevant for decision-making in political, environmental, cultural, and economic discourses and collaborations (Davis et al., 2018; Han & Stenhouse, 2015). However, communication environments are increasingly complex and science communicators must address highly convoluted issues, while targeting diverse audiences (Brossard, 2013; Scheufele, 2022).

This importance goes hand in hand with the need to ensure the efficacy and sustainability of public science communication and engagement with society. To do so, science communication must be informed by a solid theoretical base and empirical evidence as well as by insights from science communication practice. The advancement of science communication thus requires contributions from research and practice alike. Both science communication researchers and practitioners have become increasingly diversified, and professionalised during recent years, developing impressive bodies of knowledge about science communication. On the one hand, the field of “science of science communication” (Fischhoff, 2013; Rauchfleisch & Schäfer, 2018) has been established as a cross-sectional, inter- as well as transdisciplinary field of research, exploring different aspects of science communication. On the other hand, science communication practice has grown rapidly over the last decades. Responding to an ever-changing communication environment a large variety of formats has been developed and applied by diverse groups of actors. These range from individual scientists engaging in public discourse (Bauer & Jensen, 2011), to professional communicators at universities or research organisations, science journalists, bloggers and science communicators from the fields of politics or civil society (Davies & Horst, 2016).

However, despite the growth of both communities, there are relatively few instances of exchange and collaboration between science communication research and practice. Among the vast body of knowledge that research on science communication has accumulated, insights with direct relevance for practitioners working in the field are rare (Scheufele, 2022). Furthermore, it may be challenging for practitioners to find, access and interpret relevant research with practical applications. Consequently, science communication practice is seldomly informed by evidence-based knowledge in the field; similarly, practical experiences rarely feed back into research endeavours (Jensen & Gerber, 2020).

National and international science communication associations, such as the global PCST (Public Communication of Science and Technology) Network, offer some opportunities for connecting science communication researchers and practitioners, and bridging the research-practice gap. Despite this, there is still a pertinent lack of structures, occasions and incentives for science communication researchers and practitioners to embark on collaborative projects and share perspectives. This scarcity of interactions and exchanges obstructs and limits the development and professionalisation of the field.

A focus on bridging science communication research and practice

This special issue of JCOM will be devoted to informing and enhancing exchanges and collaborations between science communication research and practice, as well as to encouraging a debate on how this might be achieved and sustained. Science communication researchers might for instance increase the practical relevance of their work and test hypotheses and concepts in the context of the practical realities. Practitioners meanwhile may gain opportunities to base their activities on the latest research insights and reflect on their everyday practice.

For this special issue, we welcome papers that contribute to one or more of the following:

  1. Investigating the interrelation of science communication research and practice from analytical, empirical and historical perspectives

  2. Providing insights and showcasing different kinds of past and current research-practice interactions and projects

  3. Presenting and reflecting on methods and models for initiating, shaping and conducting interactions between science communication research and practice

  4. Reflecting on potential ways forward, exploring how science communication could allow for and promote more and better research-practice interactions

We invite research articles as well as practical insights and essays that fall within the scope of JCOM (i.e., relevant to science communication and public engagement with science). Submissions may cover but are not limited to the following topics:

  1. Interrelation of science communication research and practice, e.g.:

    • Barriers and points of contact between science communication research and practice

    • Mutual benefits and advantages versus harms and disadvantages

    • Historical developments

    • Cross-/transnational comparisons

  2. Past and current projects, e.g.:

    • Case studies of successful and/or failed initiatives

    • Best practice reports

    • Learnings

  3. Methods and models to initiate, shape and conduct collaborative projects, e.g.:

    • Factors and conditions for success

    • Evaluation of methods

  4. Suggestions on ways forward, including novel approaches and innovative perspectives that will enhance productive linkages between research and practice in science communication.

Timeline and procedure

If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please send a 300-word abstract (or article outline) to by 20 March 2023.

The abstract must indicate whether the contribution is intended as a research article (typically 5,000 to 7,500 words), a practical insights report (3,000 to 5,000 words), or an essay (3,500 to 4,500 words). In the case of original research articles, the abstract should articulate:

  1. the issue or research question to be discussed

  2. the methodological or critical framework used, and

  3. the expected findings or conclusions.

Please note that for this special issue, submissions in the form of an essay will only be accepted for review if they are written in collaboration by at least one researcher and one practitioner. Essay abstracts written only by researchers or only by practitioners will not be considered for full manuscript submissions. There are no authorship requirements for either research articles or practice reports. Feel free to consult with the special issue editors about your article ideas and potential angles or approaches.

Decisions will be communicated to the authors by 28 April 2023. Invited paper submissions, adhering to the journal’s style guide, will be due on 21 August 2023, and will be submitted directly to the submission site for Journal of Science Communication: where they will undergo peer review following the usual procedures of the Journal of Science Communication. Please note that the invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee acceptance for publication in the special issue.

The special issue is planned to be published in January 2024.

Editors of this special issue

Timeline overview

  • Call for abstracts published and announced: January 30, 2023

  • Abstract submission deadline: March 20, 2023

  • Communication regarding selection of abstracts: April 28, 2023

  • Deadline for full manuscripts: August 21, 2023

  • Peer review complete: October 30, 2023

  • Publication: January 2024


Bauer, M. W., & Jensen, P. (2011). The mobilization of scientists for public engagement. Public Understanding of Science (Bristol, England), 20(1), 3–11.

Brossard, D. (2013). New media landscapes and the science information consumer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110 Suppl 3, 14096–14101.

Davis, L., Fähnrich, B., Nepote, A. C., Riedlinger, M., & Trench, B. (2018). Environmental communication and science communication—Conversations, connections and collaborations. Environmental Communication, 12(4), 431–437.

Davies, S. R., & Horst, M. (Eds.) (2016). Science communication. Culture, identity and citizenship. Palgrave Macmillan.

Fischhoff, B. (2013). The sciences of science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110 Suppl 3, 14033–14039.

Jensen, E. A., & Gerber, A. (2020). Evidence-based science communication. Frontiers in Communication, 4, Article 78.

Rauchfleisch, A., & Schäfer, M. S. (2018). Structure and development of science communication research: co-citation analysis of a developing field. Journal of Science Communication, 17(03), A07.

Scheufele, D. A. (2022). Thirty years of science-society interfaces: What's next? Public Understanding of Science, 31(3), 297–304.

Scheufele, D. A. (2022). Understanding (perceptions of) emerging information ecologies. Journalism & Communication Monographs, 24(2), 141–145.