Tuesday 4th Feb, 3:45 pm
Research in science communication
This session will provide an update on the four projects that were undertaken with support from Inspiring Australia to develop the evidence base about science engagement in Australia:
- Project A: National Audit of Science Engagement Activity
- Project B: Collation of Science Engagement Data Across Australia;
- Project C: Understanding the Australian Evidence Base for Science Engagement and
- Project D: Determining impact of science engagement to help define and guide best practice.
In Project A, a snapshot national audit of science engagement activities around Australia was conducted in 2012. Data collected in the audit were analysed to compare the qualitative and quantitative data and discover the actual nature of the engagement taking place. Most Australian science engagement is still in either ‘first order’ (one-way communication from scientist to public) or ‘second order’ (dialogue between scientists and the public) modes of engagement. Options for increasing third order engagement of the public with science in Australia will be discussed.
Project B identified 140 peer reviewed articles about science engagement in Australia that were published between 1982 and 2011. Topics of climate change, biotechnology and health and medical issues dominate recent publications of science communication. 55 national studies have been identified that were between 1988 and 2013 and determine Australian public attitudes towards science and science-related issues.
Project C has encompassed a wide range of activities, including description of case studies to provide vignettes about the impact of public engagement activities, production and implementation of a national survey of Australians’ attitudes and behaviour relating to engagement with the sciences, development of an interactive website that provides access to data collected and tools produced and collating national data on the role of media in science engagement.
Project D produced the Inspiring Australia Evaluation Resource Kit which includes a package of evaluation tools which allows collection of nationally comparable data as well as event-specific data. An overview of results of data collected at various events and selected case studies will be presented. Key measurables that can be used to provide evidence of effective science engagement will be discussed.
Using a combination of data collected in all the projects, Project C also involves exploring the gaps between theory and practice, identifying case studies that exemplify best practice and providing access to this information via an interactive website. The website is a work in progress and science communicators are invited to add information and provide feedback.