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Trends and Possibilities in Science Communication


One of the objectives of science communication is to make specific, jargon-laden information produced by scientists into content that non scientists can easily grasp and comprehend...




One of the objectives of science communication is to make specific, jargon-laden information produced by scientists into content that non scientists can easily grasp and comprehend. Currently, science communication or, in particular, science writing  requires a working knowledge of diverse skills, from journalism to communication, to multimedia and literary arts (Science Writing, 2017) . 

With the onset of the information and communication technologies, the structure of the public communication system has been transformed, leading to the emerging trend on the part of audiences to prefer and turn to the online media to satisfy their information needs (Peters, 2013).  As technical and financial limitations to address the public directly online have largely vanished, more science organizations and individual scientists have resorted to the use of the new communication sphere like websites, blogs, social media sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter),  and Youtube to communicate science to their respective audiences.  

There are several reasons why online-based platforms are growing in popularity. For communicators who write in the context of science, online-based platforms provide the possibility to have an increased control over the whole process of content communication.  According to many scholars, these new communication platforms also provide a more symmetrical type of communication, which may lead to the increased participation of the layman in scientific debates and on debates related to various ethical, legal and social implications of scientific activities. Others view this type of communication as more effective in relation to convincing or instructing the audience towards a particular viewpoint.  Still others consider the participation of the layman as essential to increase public support (Peters, 2013).  

On the other hand, for communicators who write about science, it is more easier to hunt for scientific articles to write about via the various journals, websites and blogs that are free and accessible online. Furthermore, the diversity of types of media platforms make it possible to write about science using various perspectives: the current trend is to write stories about science in a personal mode. As Carl Zimmer has emphasized, science is part of the story or behind the story, but not anymore the lead (as cited in Levine, 2014).

Although public communication by means of online-based platforms is the current trend, it is still unclear whether these platforms will finally replace or merely complement the traditional media platforms. However, others underlined the current economic crisis of the traditional journalistic media as the expression of the prevailing new communication environments, which are able to provide unlimited information on a large number of issues for free and with relatively little effort.

Due to the growing popularity of internet-based communication platforms, it is therefore necessary for science writers to have the capacity to craft effective content both for the traditional media and the expanding digital media. It is also essential for science writers to have a grasp of multimedia to adapt themselves and to thrive in this ever changing and growing digital environment.


References:
Levine, D. (2014). 4 science journalists on the (r)evolution of science journalism. In Elzevir. Retrieved from https://www.elsevir.com/connect/4-science-journalists-on-the-revolution-of-science-journalism
Peters, H.P. (2013). Gap between science and media revisited: Scientists as public communicators. In PNAS. 110(Suppl 3) doi. 10.1073/pnas.1212745110
Science Writing. (2017). In John Hopskins University. Retrieved from http://www.advanced.jhu.edu/academics/certificate-programs/science-writing 
Science and Environmental Journalism: Trends, boundaries, and opportunities for a rapidly evolving industry. Retrieved from http://www.journal.frontiers.org/researchtopic/5811/science-and-environmental-journalism-trends-boundaries-and-opportunities-for-a-rapidly-evolving-industry

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