NSF’s ‘Indicators’ Report: Science Communication, News and Television

Posted 11 February 2014 by Matt Shipman

If you want to engage in science communication, getting mainstream news coverage offers the most bang for your buck. But is anyone interested? And which news outlets should you try to reach? A recent report from the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers some interesting insights into science news coverage and public attitudes toward science. One of my take-home messages? Television matters even more than I thought. NSF released its Science and Engineering Indicators report on Feb. 6. The report, which... Read more

A Case for Scientists to Talk to Reporters (and Work with PIOs)

Posted 22 January 2014 by Matt Shipman

Many scientists are reluctant to talk to reporters about their research, much less work with their institution’s public information officers (PIOs) to draw the attention of the press in the first place. But a recent study highlights the fact that working with “traditional media” may create professional benefits for scientists. A paper describing the work, “A Case Study in Serendipity: Environmental Researchers Use of Traditional and Social Media for Dissemination,” was published December 13, 2013, in PLOS ONE. The paper... Read more

How Science Communication Can Help Build Public Support for Science Funding

Posted 13 January 2014 by Matt Shipman

Any scientist can tell you that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get research grants, which are the lifeblood of research programs at universities and other institutions. But there are things that can be done to boost public support for research funding, and they all involve science communication. As a percentage of gross domestic product, research and development funding stayed relatively constant (and even increased slightly) in the United States and European Union between 1995 and 2011 (according to this... Read more

Citation Rates Highlight Uphill Battle for Women in Research Careers

Posted 13 December 2013 by Matt Shipman

One of the most important and institutionalized forms of science communication is the peer-reviewed journal article. These articles are essential to disseminating information among researchers in specific fields of study, and the extent to which those journal articles are cited by researchers in later articles is of enormous professional importance to researchers – particularly researchers who work in academic settings. But it appears that many researchers face an uphill battle when it comes to getting citations and related professional benefits.... Read more

Science, Science Communication Slowly Recovering at Federal Agencies

Posted 21 October 2013 by Matt Shipman

The partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government may be over, but federal agencies are still calculating the long-term impact of the shutdown on science and science communication efforts. Antarctic research projects were early, high-profile victims of the shutdown, with Science reporting Oct. 20 that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is already notifying some researchers that their projects will be delayed by a year. Researchers can also expect significant delays on grant proposals that have been submitted to research agencies.... Read more

Women, Stereotypes, Media and Computer Science

Posted 26 September 2013 by Matt Shipman

Computer scientists and people working in related fields (e.g., programmers) are predominantly men. And while there has been a significant increase in the number of women entering computer science over the past 40 years, they are not even close to parity. According to a recent study, this disparity may be due in large part to media representations of computer scientists. What does the sex disparity look like in computer science? According to a September 2013 report from the U.S. Census... Read more

Confirmation Bias Varies According to How Much We Think We Know

Posted 20 September 2013 by Matt Shipman

If you believe you’re already well-informed on science-related subjects, you are more likely to avoid science news stories that challenge your position on those subjects. That’s one of the findings of a recent study published online in Science Communication. The paper, “Seeking Congruency or Incongruency Online? Examining Selective Exposure to Four Controversial Science Issues,” evaluated which science news stories people choose to read online. Specifically, it looked at the extent to which people choose to read news that is consistent... Read more

The ‘Serious Scientist’ Myth: Why Do We Think Most Scientists Don’t Talk to Reporters? (They Do.)

Posted 26 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

I just read yet another paper that says most scientists actually do engage with reporters, at least once in a while. I’ve written about related findings twice in the past month, and I’m starting to wonder where people have gotten the idea that scientists don’t (or shouldn’t) talk to reporters about their work. (See previous posts here and here.) At issue is something I’ll call the “Serious Scientist Myth.” The Serious Scientist Myth is the idea that “serious” scientists don’t... Read more

Seniority, Self-Confidence Predict Whether Scientists Will Work With Media

Posted 21 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

While some scientists are happy to talk to reporters, many want nothing to do with news media. I’ve met researchers who think that talking to journalists is beneath them, and others who are clearly terrified by the very idea. What’s going on here? What makes some scientists agree to discuss their work with the non-expert public? Earlier this month I ran across a study that sheds some light on the subject. I recently wrote about a 2013 study showing that... Read more

Want to Participate in a Science Communication Study? Here’s Your Chance

Posted 15 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

If you’re reading my blog, you have an interest in science communication. That being the case, I thought you might want to participate in a science communication study. The study is being conducted by Paige Brown, a scicomm grad student and fellow blogger for SciLogs. (You may have read her blog, From the Lab Bench.) Here’s a note from Paige explaining what she’s up to, and how you can take part. (FYI: if you’re a science reporter or blogger, she... Read more