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Science Communication Research: Past Patterns and Future Perspectives

BY Alexander Gerber  Just like other research fields coming of age, science communication may ask itself which patterns have characterised its development over the past decades, which topics and methodologies were particularly often used, and what this can tell us about the strengths and weaknesses of the research field. An in-depth empirical analysis has explored exactly these questions. The results were recently published as a book, which also comprises reflections by the world’s leading science communication scholars about the field’s future needs and perspectives.  The study triangulates a bibliometric and content analysis of approx. 3,000 journal papers with a multi-stage panel study and a review of grey literature spanning four decades. Quantitative findings from the journal analysis (e.g. about disciplinary contexts or topics, research methods, data analysis techniques used) were discussed by a panel of 36 science communication researchers in a multi-stage series of qualitative
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Free Book Webinar. Newton's Chicken: Science in the Kitchen

On January 14th at 2 p.m. GMT, Massimiano Bucchi, Professor of Science and Technology in Society, University of Trento, will discuss and answer questions about his new book, Newton's Chicken: Science in the kitchen  World Science Publishing. This highly rigorous, yet original and entertaining publication provides a surprising account of the relationship between gastronomy and scientific research. Why has science forcefully entered the kitchen from a certain moment in history? Why do scientists often use images and metaphors drawn from gastronomy? What is the common thread that connects scientific experiments to mouth-watering recipes? What has futurist cooking got in common with molecular gastronomy? Experiments with coffee, controversies over beer and chocolate recipes guarded as if they were secret patents are the ingredients of this original, surprising account of the intersections between gastronomy and research, between laboratories and kitchens. To join us on Thursday 14 Janu

Academic freedom under threat

By  Esa Väliverronen Problems with academic freedom and scientists’ freedom of expression have been increasingly debated in the academia recently. Restrictions to the freedom of inquiry and the public expression of researchers have become more prominent all over the world, and researchers have not remained silent anymore. According to the recent report Free to think by Scholars at Risk, published in late November 2020, “(a)ttacks on scholars, students, staff, and their institutions occur with alarming frequency. Around the world,   state and non-state actors, including armed militants and extremist groups, police and military forces, government authorities, off-campus groups, and even members of higher education communities, among others, carry these attacks.”   In many countries, pressures on academic communities around the world have increased as a result of the   COVID-19 pandemic . Scholars at Risk lists only the most severe violations against scientists and experts, such as

Communicating Science & Research Information to lay public. The Malawi experience

Outreach exhibitions are an effective tool for communicating science or research information to rural communities in Malawi This story is based on my encounter with Mrs Buleya during an outreach exhibition.  BY  Rodrick Emmanuel Sabakunsi “Beep” - I ignore it. Then a second one: “Beep”. I peep through the window, and there stands Kestern, the exhibition officer. He beckons me, saying: “Boss, we are ready, everything has been packed, we can start off now”. I look at my watch: exactly 7:30 AM. I switch off my laptop, put it in the drawer, take my bag and walk towards the car. This is the journey that I have performed for the past two years. This day, Friday, like all other Fridays is the day when we conduct our outreach exhibition, a crucial part of our science communication and public engagement initiatives. Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust , the organization that I work for, is a Clinical Research organization conducting its research in both urban and rural Malawi. These weekly outreac

IN ADDITION TO VACCINE, TRUST WILL BE NEEDED

Second Wave of Pandemic Overwhelms Trust in Institutions and Scientific Experts in Italy Massimiano Bucchi, Eliana Fattorini, Barbara Saracino The start of the pandemic crisis at the end of the winter had revealed, in Italy as in other countries, the weakness of stereotypes that describe the general public as an easy prey of unreliable information sources and content. According to data from the Science and Technology in Society Monitor , in fact, Italian citizens mostly relied upon (and considered trustworthy) institutional sources of information on the pandemic and how to avoid contagion. Evaluations of the management of the crisis by national and local institutions were also largely positive, with peaks of appreciation beyond 85% for the Civil Protection Department and 65% for the National Government (similar trends were recorded internationally).  More than six months later, in the midst of the so-called “second wave”, the picture has profoundly changed. Citizens’ positive evaluatio

On the trail of 19th century science performers: the case of L. K. Maju

By Dulce da Rocha Gonçalves  Science performers played a significant role in science communication during the nineteenth century: they performed live for different audiences, in a variety of settings, often hauling science and technology experiments and demonstrations throughout the territory. Some scientific performers used the live event of the stage performance as a way to communicate their own investigative endeavors, to promote their published works, or to boost their scientific reputation. Other performers were interested in science and technology as fruitful material for their entertaining and instructive performances. The latter was the case for Levie Kinsbergen Maju (1823-1886), a Dutch performer with a background in stage magic who reinvented himself as a science popularizer in the 1860s. From the sensational ghost lecture of John Henry Pepper to Edison’s phonograph, and from illustrated astronomy lectures to the microscopic projection of the cholera bacillus, Maju delivered

Jargon in science communication research and practice

 By Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Orli Wolfson, Elad Segev Too basic to mention, a truism too dull to repeat, jargon is still one of the greatest hurdles to effective science communication. Despite all the emphasis on dialogue and participatory actions, it's almost impossible for readers to understand a text if the vocabulary is more akin to a foreign language. With COVID-19 dictating our movements and social interactions, we are dependent today more than ever on the engagement of individuals from all walks and talks of life with public health guidelines and policy. These are spelled out in the languages of values and biology, ethics, and medicine.  Jargon concerns us both as science communication researchers who aim for interdisciplinary collaboration and visibility, and as science communication practitioners who recognize the need to communicate scientific concepts in vivid and familiar ways.  To do so, we need to support scientists to learn how to talk about science in new ways. Natural