About this Research Topic
For science communication to be effective and inclusive, we need to understand and apply what works and why. Decades of social and behavioural science research provides us with a breadth of relevant evidence, alongside decades of lessons learned from experimenting with certain approaches in practice.
The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 has been a drastic reminder of the importance of science communication. Policy-makers and researchers, communication practitioners and affected citizens have seen that measures to contain the spread of the virus will only be socially accepted if the communication between such stakeholders is effective. Weighing economic interests against public health concerns, and safety issues against data privacy concerns, has required regulatory trade-offs under conditions that have been described as ‘post normal science’. That is, the situation has called for urgent decisions with values in dispute while the stakes are high and facts uncertain.
These reflections are deeply embedded in the bigger picture of discussing the overall goals and taken-for-granted practices of science communication. In particular, the pandemic has provided a stark reminder of how important it is for science communication to more effectively put public interests at the heart of how scientific knowledge is produced, shared, and applied.
Initiatives such as the “Science of Science Communication” (SOSC) and “Evidence-based Science Communication” (EBSC) aim to combine professional experience from practice with the best available evidence from systematic social research, suggesting ways to address research/practice disconnects.
This Research Topic in Frontiers in Communication will address a) theoretical, conceptual, and methodological challenges and solutions to be discussed and b) questions associated with evidence syntheses and case studies
a) Suggested topics for the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological challenges and solutions are:
• General conceptual aspects of effective knowledge exchange between research and practice
• How science communication research can effectively address evidence needs that are being encountered in practice
• Ways of determining the practical relevance of different types of science communication evidence, including the role of issues such as methodological rigor and generalizability
• Systemic and attitudinal barriers to EBSC such as closed access publishing and institutional competition criteria for career promotion
• Models for increased engagement between research and practice, e.g. in evidence co-creation
• Opportunities and challenges for teaching and training of science communication, including the role of social science methods in curricula and the nature and extent to which evidence comprises the content of science communication curricula (as compared to anecdotal advice)
b) Suggested topics associated with evidence syntheses and case studies are:
• Systematic and synthesis reviews of science communication evidence, distilling knowledge relevant to effective practice
• Case studies demonstrating the use of social science evidence in practice that highlight either general lessons, key caveats, situational drivers of impact or mediating factors
• Case studies relating to a lack of social science evidence in practice and its implications
• Case studies demonstrating evidence-based approaches to determine and/or predict the effectiveness of certain communication activities.
• Application of principles of good practice and ideal types of ‘good or bad’ practice rooted in evidence or evidence-based theoretical models
• Practice-based commentaries about (challenges with) integrating existing evidence from science communication research (or other social science research/theory)
Contributions from science communication practitioners are particularly encouraged, and the editors would like to highlight the possibility of submitting General Commentary papers of up to 1000 words responding to points made in the paper by Jensen & Gerber noted below.
About ‘Evidence-based Science Communication:
Read more about Evidence-based Science Communication (EBSC) in the Frontiers in Communication article by Jensen & Gerber (2020) and/or by visiting the website: sciencecomm.science
Keywords: Science Communication, Health Communication, Environmental Communication, Public Engagement, Science of Science Communication, Evidence-based Science Communication, Evaluation, Social Science Research
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.