Special Issue on Living Labs Under Construction: Paradigms, Practices, and Perspectives of Public Science Communication and Participatory Science

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

Special Issue Editors:

 

Living Labs galore. Involving citizens and other stakeholders in science endeavors and integrating them in the design of new technologies and scientific inquiry is a core aim of contemporary research and development. Living labs are prime places in the quest of science to be more inclusive and to open up to people from all walks of life, including politics, design, and culture. Promising to foster participation, collaboration and co-creation around science, living labs have been mushrooming across the academe, from STEM subjects to the humanities. In fact, they have become the token for an up-to-date science communication that is not satisfied with conveying expert-driven information but seeks an exchange with people that are addressed as the participants of, not just the audience for research.

Despite the keen interest and heavy investments into living labs, their epistemic underpinnings and conceptual grounding remain shaky. The many approaches and initiates, that are for instance connected in the European Network of Living Labs, do not follow a common idea or design, except the ambition to venture into the “real world” outside of labs and libraries. Moreover, little is known about the communicative and social processes happening at these sites and the ways, participation is being configurated. What is further missing is a critical view on the political schemes and ambitions around public engagement and living labs which have been the focus of especially European funding since 2006.

The Special Issue addresses this lack of conceptualization and rigorous analysis of the paradigmatic foundations and practical frameworks of living labs. Unlike other publications on living labs, the SI is not bound to a particular area of application but rather focuses on the communication and interaction happening there. It is interested in contributions that examine the ways living labs are constructed and operated so to fulfil the promise of open, active, and innovative public science engagement. Papers are welcome that query the underlying theories and normative assumptions of living labs, for instance regarding the varying notions of what makes for “productive” participation and “good” participants; it also involves thinking about other factors such a trust, agency, and expertise that come to bear upon the living lab experience. We also invite papers that present and discuss methods for studying the public engagement and public participation aspects of living labs and what kinds of insights they help to generate. The Special Issue should also provide a space to interrogate the key moments in the life cycle of living labs like the definition of problems and possible solutions, the identification of stakeholders and their needs, or the organization of their temporal order and social responsibilities. In particular, we encourage papers that that take a comparative look at the public science communication aspects of living labs in different scientific or societal contexts.

Along these topics, the Special Issue allows us to scrutinise the merits and pitfalls of an omnipresent science communication enterprise. It makes us rethink and reorganise how living labs are set up and operated. Define standards for what constitutes successful and sustainable integration and public engagement with science.

We invite research articles as well as practice insights and essays that fall within the scope of JCOM (i.e. relevant to science communication and public engagement with science). They could address but are not limited to the following themes:

  • Conceptualisations of living labs, their normative premises and public participatory ambitions
  • Cverviews, comparisons, and critical discussions of living lab approaches, practices, and schemes
  • Reflections on the position of living labs in science communication paradigms, their connections to other forms of science communication
  • Indicators and parameters to assess the performance and impact of the public engagement or communication aspects of living labs
  • Evaluations and accounts of the quality and effects of citizen participation in living labs
  • Histories and genealogies of living lab initiatives across different science fields and territories also beyond Europe and the US
  • Obstacles and problems of living labs • Communicative and social processes within living labs as well as issues of trust, agency, and expertise
  • Methodologies and methods for studying living labs

 

Timeline and procedure

300-word abstracts (or article outlines) should be submitted by July 25, 2022, to livinglabs.specialissue@gmail.com.

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.

The abstract must indicate whether the contribution is intended as a research article (typically 5,000 to 7,500 words), a practice insight (3,000 to 5,000 words), or an essay (3,500 to 4,500 words). 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 August 30, 2022. Invited paper submissions, adhering to the journal’s style guide, will be due November 30, 2022, and will be submitted directly to the submission site for Journal of Science Communication: https://jcom.sissa.it/jcom/index.jsp 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 into the special issue. 

The special issue is planned to come out in April or May 2023.