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A sketch from the Managing Editor: Celebrating Public Understanding of Science

By  Susan Howard. I’m writing this blog post as part of the journal’s 30-year anniversary, to give a glimpse behind the scenes of the editorial team: it’s part record, part nostalgia. I am a little taken aback to be writing that I have been the managing editor of PUS for 13 years, starting in the role in the spring of 2009. That’s a good portion of the journal’s history. I’ve watched it go from 6 issues per year to 8, from around a dozen submissions a month to 3 times that; seen production in the UK move to production in India; I’ve worked with three editors each based in a different country with different priorities and editorial styles. Susan Howard, Managing Editor of Public Understanding of Science Martin Bauer supervised my PhD (in stereotypical images of scientists) and we worked on several projects together. When I completed my thesis, very (very) certain that I didn’t want to and shouldn’t be an academic, and starting to train as a counsellor, I was casting around for a job, an
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#AcademicTwitter series: How to write a good Twitter bio

By Elena Milani & Cristina Rigutto Nowadays, if you want to reach the academic community online and share your research outputs with other scholars or journalists, the first place to be is Twitter. However, just being on Twitter is not enough; you need to know how to use it effectively.  For this reason, we, Elena and Cristina - the former and current blog and social media editors of Public Understanding of Science, decided to write a series of posts about the nuts and bolts of Twitter for academics .  The first post of this series is about how to write a good Twitter profile . How should I choose my handle? When we set up a Twitter profile, the first step is choosing a handle. A Twitter handle is the username that appears at the end of your unique Twitter URL and below your name. Twitter handles must contain fewer than 15 characters Twitter handles should be as simple and memorable as possible; for this reason, using  name and surname  is usually the best choice. For example, Cri

What do people know (and think they know) about COVID-19?

By Natasha Strydhorst. Stories and speculations have been swirling throughout the pandemic, seemingly spreading as fast as COVID-19 itself. The stories we see in academic journals and our newspapers of choice, however, are not necessarily the same as those making the rounds via social media and the (however pandemic-constrained) everyday social interactions.  Just which stories—and attendant (mis)perceptions—are making the rounds? We set out to capture a snapshot of these in three U.S. municipalities a little over one year into the pandemic, creating a small but rich smorgasbord of impressions in the midst of a historic global disruption of commerce, travel, workplaces, habits, and—foundationally—health. What that snapshot looks like, in a word: diverse.  We asked 27 participants five core questions: What do you know about COVID-19? What have you heard about COVID-19 that you think may be true? What would you most like to know about the disease COVID-19? What would you most like to kn

Welcome to the Editorial Team: Elena Milani new Social Media Editor of PUS

By Hans Peter Peters, Editor of Public Understanding of Science With the beginning of November, Dr. Elena Milani, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), UK, is the new social media editor of Public Understanding of Science. She follows Cristina Rigutto from the University of Trento, Italy, who held that position since 2016. Elena is a research fellow at the Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol, and a social media expert with not only a theoretical understanding of social media but also a lot of professional experience. She completed her PhD at UWE with a study on vaccine movements on social media, and has worked as social media editor for university departments, campaigns and scientific conferences. As social media editor of PUS she will be responsible for our blog and Twitter account @SciPublic . Cristina Rigutto who teaches on social media at the University of Trento has broadened our social media activities since 2016, giving our journal some visibility in the social

Who can think rationally about the pandemic – and who can’t?

By Fabian Hutmacher, Regina Reichardt, and Markus Appel The COVID-19 pandemic poses a great challenge – to politicians and healthcare workers, but also to the general public. Not only because the present situation is associated with financial insecurity, stress, and reduced well-being for many people, but also because individuals need to understand the current state of research in order to adjust their behavior appropriately. As our study  demonstrates, however, pandemic-related information is not processed in an objective manner. Rather, people’s attitudes influence their thinking: Being rational is not easy. That is the bad news. The good news is that the participants’ evaluations became more accurate when they had better abilities to reason with numbers.  How did we get to this conclusion? In order to investigate how people process pandemic-related information, we selected a topic that has become polarized in the public debate: mask mandates. We recruited 417 participants from the U

The political views and scary information reflected by Chinese cartoons about genetically modification

Prof. Wang Guoyan's science communication team of Soochow University researched cartoons on Chinese genetical modification (GM).  They found that topics on GM in China peaked from 2013 to 2016 when controversies on GM food fueled the spread of political conspiracy theories. GM cartoons in China reflect strong political views and contain scary information. The findings and opinions presented in this article have been published on  Public Understanding of Science . The study analyzed 257 GM cartoons that appeared on the Internet in China from 2012 to May 2018. Only 19 new cartoons were added after a retrieval conducted in August 2020. The findings showed that the number of China's GM cartoons is consistent with the Baidu Media Index on the headline news about GM. The hottest GM events, e.g., the debate between Cui Yongyuan and Fang Zhouzi and the “Golden Rice” incident that lasted from the end of 2012 to 2016, generated enormous media attention and public opinion, resulting in

Your Chance of Finding Quality Scientific Information on Google Depends on the Language You Search In

The language divide in scientific information available to Internet users  Choose your language: Hebrew Arabic We are often told that nowadays, all the world's knowledge is available at our fingertips – just a quick Google search away. But what happens when users search for information in their own language? For example, when searching for a scientific term, do search engines provide English-, Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking students with the same level of access to quality scientific information? This question is addressed by a new study, conducted at the Technion and recently published in Public Understanding of Science. The study found that search results for terms in English are of better quality than those provided for equivalent terms in Hebrew and Arabic. Additionally, most of the differences between the languages pertained to pedagogical aspects of quality, that is, the extent to which the content was geared towards young users, rather than