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Science of science communication Brian Trench Dublin City University.

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Presentation on theme: "Science of science communication Brian Trench Dublin City University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Science of science communication Brian Trench Dublin City University

2 The Science of Science Communication Colloquium hosted by US National Academies of Science, Washington, May 2012 This colloquium will survey the state of the art of empirical social science research in science communication and will focus on research in psychology, decision science, mass communication, risk communication, health communication, political science, sociology, and related fields on the communication dynamics surrounding issues in science, engineering, technology, and medicine with five distinct goals: To improve understanding of relations between the scientific community and the public To assess the scientific basis for effective communication about science To strengthen ties among and between communication scientists To promote greater integration of the disciplines and approaches pertaining to effective communication To foster an institutional commitment to evidence-based communication science See programme and archived webcasts at colloquia/upcoming-colloquia/science-communication.htmlhttp://www.nasonline.org/programs/sackler- colloquia/upcoming-colloquia/science-communication.html

3 Science communication Mass communication / media Communication Psychology Philosophy Ethics Rhetoric Sociology Linguistics History Political Economy Policy Studies

4 Science communication Science education Philosophy and Ethics of science Health promotion Risk communication History of Science Life sciences Physical sciences Environmental sciences Social Studies of Science

5 Status of science communication Hybrid status as both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary (Priest 2010) Not a full discipline [and this] allows science communicators to plunder all disciplines and fields of study to conduct their work most effectively (Gascoigne et al 2010) Emerging discipline with some recognised criteria of a discipline but still weak in theoretical development and definition of its boundaries (Trench and Bucchi 2010)

6 Complex root system Cross-disciplinary migration of champions Short training courses for professional scientists Science writing within communication programmes Writing and presentation modules for science students Training for science museums, shows, outreach Science writing postgraduate programmes

7 Programme content from four fields Science (usually biology) Education studies (also museum studies) Social studies of science (incl. history, philosophy) Communication theory and skills

8 Challenges to programmes Not seen as core business and therefore vulnerable to cutbacks (Netherlands, Italy) Reduced practical content through relocation to another department (Mexico) Continuing need to explain or justify science communication and science communication research in a natural sciences setting (UK, Netherlands)

9 Opportunities for programmes Improved protection through relocation from a natural sciences to a humanities department (France) Demand for courses in science communication for other programmes (Spain, UK) External support from institutions promoting science- in-society initiatives (Spain) Internal support from unit promoting science-in- society initiatives (France)

10 Im not sure the scientists understand completely what we do and they could have some problems with some of it. We are in a strange balance. They understand that we are useful. It depends on different boundary conditions: we could become a kind of outreach department or a research department, though this is less likely. Mostly, the scientists in our institute have in mind a popularisation model for science communication. Nico Pitrelli, SISSA, Italy

11 We were very fragile when we depended directly on science departments but our relocation to Humanities seems to protect us. Our Masters is really a professional Masters and the departments in Humanities dont have many professionally oriented programmes. The literary people welcome us because of the professional dimension to our education. Baudouin Jurdant, University of Paris 7

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14 SCI-COMM R ESEARCH A RTICLES, (n=1,237) More than twice as many articles published as

15 T OP10 J OURNALS FOR S CI C OMM R ESEARCH, Tpp 10 journals accounted for 518 of 1,237 papers (42%)

16 R ESEARCH M ETHODS IN A RTICLES, Research MethodTotal Articles Using This Method Surveys or Questionnaires331 Content Analysis290 Interviews159 Case Studies149 Secondary Analysis of Surveys78 Focus Groups72 Evaluation Studies56

17 S ELECTED T OPICS IN S CIENCE C OMMUNICATION R ESEARCH

18 18 Science comm PhD theses Data gathered for 57 theses > 50% in UK/Australia/USA > 50% focused on context of science or medicine media/journalism > means of communication > engagement and dialogue > role of scientists > role of stakeholders > evaluation Top 4: media content analysis, survey, interview and case study No clear shared research aims Multiple theories employed Multiple contributions to practical field

19 Topics of current PhD projects theory education evaluation scientist citizen media/means festivals art museum engagement/cyberscience interaction visitors/scientists evaluation theory/science education television/scientific citizenship benefits field trip/guest speaker culture based sc-training climate change Australian newspapers concept of interactional expertise cancer prevention high school teachers ecological art /pus of marine biology math. info in Portuguese press corporate public/museum governance engagement/dialogue dialogue/responsiveness science antibiotic resistance/risk reduction strategic sc/changing university authentic museum objects/visitors pop. science books mathematics framing / pet fish owners effective strategy/organize cultural knowledge/western science strategic sc/climate change values/sc among prof. science com. stakeholder/sustainable dev. sc. theories/deliberative democracy laboratory access/teachers and pupils popular culture/a brief history of time informal science / visual interpretation multimedia/com. / edu. potential nanotech./civil society media influence/bone marrow donation science/public/citizenship public health program sc. theories/application in practice expertise citizenship stakeholder int. professionalization in SC stakeholder/sus. bioproducts learning/school trip scientist online involvement/journalism

20 Topics of current PhD projects theory education evaluation scientist citizen media/means festivals art museum engagement/cyberscience interaction visitors/scientists evaluation theory/science education television/scientific citizenship benefits field trip/guest speaker culture based sc-training climate change Australian newspapers concept of interactional expertise cancer prevention high school teachers ecological art /pus of marine biology math. info in Portuguese press corporate public/museum governance engagement/dialogue dialogue/responsiveness science antibiotic resistance/risk reduction strategic sc/changing university authentic museum objects/visitors pop. science books mathematics framing / pet fish owners effective strategy/organize cultural knowledge/western science strategic sc/climate change values/sc among prof. science com. stakeholder/sustainable dev. sc. theories/deliberative democracy laboratory access/teachers and pupils popular culture/a brief history of time informal science / visual interpretation multimedia/com. / edu. potential nanotech./civil society media influence/bone marrow donation science/public/citizenship public health program sc. theories/application in practice expertise citizenship stakeholder int. professionalization in SC stakeholder/sus. bioproducts learning/school trip scientist online involvement/journalism

21 Methods of current PhD projects questionnaires/interviews content analysis – incl. discourse analysis participant observation eye-tracking case study participatory design literature / document analysis

22 Current PhD research projects (extract) Name Country UniversityTopic Vickie Curtis UK Institute of Educational technology (Open University) How new developments in communication technologies are influencing public engagement activities in science: citizen cyberscience initiatives. Diana Kaiser Ireland Schools of Biotechnology and Communication (Dublin City University) Development and application of evaluation theory for the evaluation of informal science education, science outreach and public engagement with science. Supara Kamolpattana UK Science Communication Unit, (University of the West of England, Bristol) Development of culture-based science communication training for science museum explainers Elaine McKewon Australia School of Journalism (University of Technology, Sydney) Coverage of climate change in Australian newspapers ( ) with the aim of explaining how the scientific consensus on climate change was reconstructed as a scientific debate in the news media. Eric Kennedy Canada Centre for Knowledge Integration (University of Waterloo) Investigation of the concept of interactional expertise proposed by sociologists Harry Collins and Robert Evans. Gustav Bohlin Sweden Department of Science and Technology (Linköping University) Antibiotic resistance and how different features of this problem, such as causes and risk-reduction measures, are communicated to and with the Swedish public. Nick Verouden Netherlands Department of Science Education and Communication (Delft University of Technology) This project explores the coupling of science communication to strategic university organizational goals and objectives by investigating how professionals deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis. ConstanzeHampp Germany TUM School of Education, Science Communication (TU Munich) Seek to verify the claimed impact of authentic museum objects (originals) on museum visitors, testing the assumption that originals attract higher attention than reproductions Susana Pereira PortugalFaculty of Sciences (University of Porto) Mathematical information in the Portuguese press

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24 Base communication models Dominant models in PCST Variants on dominant PCST models Sciences orientation to public Dissemination Deficit Defence Marketing They are hostile They are ignorant They can be persuaded

25 Base comm models Dominant models in PCST Variants on dominant PCST models Sciences orientation to public Dissemination Deficit Defence Marketing They are hostile They are ignorant They can be persuaded Dialogue Context Consultation Engagement We see their diverse needs We find out their views They talk back They take on the issue

26 Base comm models Dominant models in PCST Variants on dominant PCST models Sciences orientation to public Dissemination Deficit Defence Marketing They are hostile They are ignorant They can be persuaded Dialogue Context Consultation Engagement We see their diverse needs We find out their views They talk back They take on the issue Conversation Participation Deliberation Critique They and we shape the issue They and we set the agenda They and we negotiate meanings

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30 4 stages of scientific development Stage 1: new objects and phenomena – scientists are pioneers, not afraid to make mistakes, have difficulties with peer review, do not always possess excellent technical skills Stage 2: develop methods and techniques – scientists validate techniques, develop a specific language, are ingenious and inventive, able to implement ideas Stage 3: production of specific knowledge: highest number of original publications – Scientists are resistant to first-stage propositions Stage 4: maintain and pass on scientific knowledge generated in phase 1 to 3 crucial revisions of the domain – scientists write reviews and textbooks presenting overview of the discipline (Shneider, Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2009)

31 How much do practitioners care? Survey of those attending BAAS Science Communication conference 2007 (N=124) (87% science graduates; 54% professional science communicators; 69% female; 73% <40-y-o) 42% read PUS and 36% SC occasionally 55% never read PUS or SC Miller, in Cheng et al, Science Communication in Social Contexts (2008)

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33 Uses of scientific research To classify objects To explain observed behaviour – causation; correlation; models To clarify concepts To aid prediction – If this, then that … To aid planning, strategy


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