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From Policy to Funding, Science Communication May Be More Important Than Ever

Posted 30 January 2015 by Matt Shipman

Detail of an image by secretlondon123, obtained via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

If you think science should inform policy decisions or you just want to ensure that there is continued government support for scientific research, you should be alarmed by a new report from the Pew Research Center. Here’s the short version: the U.S. public is markedly less supportive of federal science funding than it was five years ago, and is less likely to be swayed by science on policy issues. This should be a wake-up call to the science community: science... Read more

A Journal to Advance Citizen Science: an Interview with Caren Cooper

Posted 26 January 2015 by Matt Shipman

Detail of a photo of the Cascade Butterfly Project in Mt. Rainier National Park. Photo credit: Kevin Bacher. Click for more information.

Science communication and citizen science have a lot in common – namely, the desire to engage with people both inside and outside of the traditional science community. But where science communication is often seeking only to educate or to get folks interested in science, citizen science is trying to get people actively involved in the scientific process. Citizen science can take many forms – from “games with a purpose,” such as Phylo, to projects that have people collecting ants from... Read more

Science Communication Needs and Best Practice: What Would a Top Ten List Look Like?

Posted 14 January 2015 by Matt Shipman

Image credit: Sam Churchill, via Flickr. Click for more information.

A new paper offers up a “top 10” list of science communication (scicomm) challenges and potential solutions – but also highlights the flaws in the list. I’m hoping it can be a starting point for a discussion that could help people address at least some of the scicomm problems they’re grappling with. Background Here’s the deal: science communication can be a tricky business. It can be defined in a wide variety of ways, and includes a host of different interests... Read more

New Resource Aims To Help Reporters Cover Genetics

Posted 5 January 2015 by Matt Shipman

This image was released by the National Human Genome Research Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, with the ID 85329. Retrieved via Wikimedia Commons. Click for more information.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Robin Bisson. Bisson is a former staffer at the UK’s Science Media Centre, and is launching a similar initiative in the US that focuses solely on issues related to genetics and biotechnology. He describes the new initiative here. During the last few weeks I’ve frequently had two scenarios described to me. One: a scientist gets frustrated about the latest misinformation about their field playing out in the media, and would like to... Read more

Big Changes at the Scientific American Blog Network

Posted 15 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Scientific American posted an announcement Dec. 15, stating that editors will be “reshaping” the Scientific American Blog Network and releasing new editorial guidelines for the network. What wasn’t entirely clear in the post, titled “A New Vision For Scientific American’s Blog Network,” was that a number of blogs on the network have been eliminated. The Dec. 15 post does not say that any blogs have been cut, but as soon as the post was published a number of announcements began... Read more

Health News and the Importance of News Releases

Posted 10 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Ministry of Information Photo Division, via Wikimedia Commons. Click for more information.

A new study from the BMJ highlights the link between exaggeration in news releases about health-related research and exaggeration in news stories about that same research. And, in a timely coincidence, a project based out of the University of Minnesota has announced that it will be holding people accountable for misleading news releases. A paper describing the work, “The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study,” by Petroc Sumner, et al., was... Read more

Seasonal Science Stories: Using the Calendar as Your News Hook

Posted 4 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Detail from poster for "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (1964). Artist unknown. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Click on image to link to full poster.

Reporters and bloggers write in a variety of styles for a variety of audiences, but one of the things that every blog post or news item needs to do is explain to readers why the writer is telling this story now. What’s the news hook? Science stories are often reactive, meaning that the story was written in response to some external event that the writer had no control over – such as the publication of a journal article or a... Read more

Shirts, Science Communication, and Why Appearances Can Be Important

Posted 14 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

That Shirt

On Nov. 12, a robot launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) about ten years ago landed on a comet approximately 300 million miles away. Which is (literally) awesome. But this blog is about science communication, so I want to talk about a shirt. One of the ESA staffers prominently featured in coverage of the landing was Matt Taylor, who is head scientist on the project. Taylor is an intelligent guy, but he made the unfortunate decision to wear a... Read more

Following Your Passion Project: Notes from the 2014 National Association of Science Writers Meeting

Posted 13 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Tomasz Moczek, via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Brooke Borel. Borel is a freelance science writer and author. She organized a session at the 2014 meeting of the National Association of Science Writers on what it takes to make a “passion project” a success, and I asked her to write a guest post on the subject. Last month, 430 science journalists and communicators took over a Marriott hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio for their annual meeting, which included talks and... Read more

Science Blogging and Citations

Posted 31 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: North Carolina State University

Paige Brown Jarreau, author of the SciLogs blog From The Lab Bench, recently wrote a lengthy post on the science of science blogging. The post included a lengthy list of related journal articles, and one of them caught my eye: “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations?” With Paige’s blessing, I decided to unpack that particular paper a bit. The full title of the paper is “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future... Read more