- Journalists' Corner
- Good Practices
In this section is presented a list of successful initiatives and stories in science communication.
These examples have been selected responding to criteria such as: the impact that these initiatives have had in society; the hot issues they tackle; the innovative way of conveying them and, last but not least, the journalist work behind them.
Lab to Media
The Brussels-based communication agency Lab To Media does not represent an example of success story itself. However, the services they provide in the field of science communication do meet the criteria to be regarded as good examples.
A concrete example of science communication by Lab to Media is the documentary film Nano: The Next Dimension.
This documentary features several leading physicists discussing nanotechnology and its applications in the modern technology. The aim of the film is to increase awareness of nanotechnology and the European research in this field. In this they succeeded.
The film captures one ́s attention immediately with a use of stunning imagery of the Earth and an intriguing narrative introduction. A scientist ́s concise description of what nanotechnology helps introduce the viewer to this new scientific technology. Amazing graphics are used to give a good mental picture of the nano-scale.
We collected other online examples related to nanotechnology; three projects that try to explain to a wider audience the principles and applications of this complex scientific field:
- Nanoandme.org is a website for anyone who wants to know more about nanotechnology. One of the most important roles for the Nano&me site is to provide a forum to debate some of the important issues which arise from the uses of nanotechnologies, particularly social and ethical issues.
- Communicating nanotechnology information to the broad public. Nanototouch is a project aimed at communicating nanotechnology through a completely new methodology, which is aimed at pushing science communication to its extreme. In fact, the revolutionary concept behind this project stands in the re-collocation of science from the standard perspective of a top-down communication, to a more active involvement of the public; thus science will no longer exist as a separated apparatus from the rest of society.
- NanoHex video for nanofluid coolants - on YouTube. NanoHex, a cutting edge nanotechnology project that aims to develop a revolutionary cooling system for a range of industrial applications. Formulating carefully engineered nanofluids, the project hopes to unlock new development possibilities for more compact, lightweight, energy efficient and environmentally friendly processes and products.
Online interactive initiatives / “Citizen science” examples
Based upon the idea that science needs to be more transparent, it would be wrong to assume the public cannot be involved in knowledge construction. The next two projects have been selected upon the basis that “citizen science” is not such a distant concept to achieve.
Opal and Galaxy Zoo are two interactive science projects that have succeeded because they show how science can also be open to the public and how scientists can make their workings available for public use. They deal with issues that are deemed as “hobbies” by many citizens, and so they are easy to get to grips with.
These online initiatives offer a collaborative relationship between scientists and the public, who participates actively in the project and not as mere information consumers.
Open Air Laboratories, OPAL
The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is an exciting initiative open to anyone with an interest in nature. It started in 2007 with developing a wide range of local and national programmes. By bringing scientists, amateur-experts, local interest groups and the public closer together, lasting relationships will be formed and environmental issues of local and global relevance explored. The project will also generate valuable scientific data. A total of 15 partners are working together to deliver a total of 31 projects. The entire OPAL portfolio is headed by Imperial College in London.
Galaxy Zoo project was launched in July 2007, with a data set made up of a million galaxies imaged with the robotic telescope of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Within 24 hours of launch, the site was receiving 70,000 classifications an hour, and more than 50 million classifications were received by the project during its first year.
More than 250,000 people have taken part in Galaxy Zoo so far, producing a wealth of valuable data and sending telescopes on Earth and in space chasing after their discoveries.
Project Planet Ocean
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has identified the platform Protect Planet Ocean as a case study of effective science communication.
Protect Planet Ocean is an initiative by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) with the collaboration with UNEP-WCMC. The website was created to inform people about diversity of the ocean ́s ecosystems and its importance. The website has seen over 600,000 unique visitors from 220 countries since its launch in 2008.
In this website, you can explore the world's Marine Protected Areas directly in Google Earth, learn about ocean issues and how you can help and/or work in conservation, as well as upload movies and photos from inside Marine Protected Areas to our global Google Earth Marine Protected Areas layer.
BBC Watchdog online service
Another example of success is also not a story itself but the BBC’s Watchdog. This section deals with investigations and topical reports (also food related) into the big names and smaller rogues letting consumers down. Especially informative for the audience are its sections on Reports and Consumer Advice on food and drink.
“Bird Flu” section in The Guardian
One of the hot topics related to food safety in recent years has been the commonly known as ”Bird Flu”. Dating from 2007 and up to the present day, the surveillance of the story done by The Guardian has developed into a really comprehensive and informative section on the online newspaper including top stories, useful links or related subjects. Worth highlighting is the Editors pick, an interactive graphic providing basic information on what the virus is, the way it expands, its migratory routes or the latest updates on the virus in the UK.
Online article: "The Death of the Fishsticks", Der Spiegel International
The Death of Fish Sticks by the German newspaper Der Spiegel tackles the issue of the famous “pangasius”. For centuries it remained a wild fish that travelled upstream to search for food. Nowadays, its raising global demand and declining fish populations have made pangasius a farmed species. The catchy and light-hearted title introduces the reader into a well structured story explaining the current problem facing this fish.
Beginning in reverse order, the article takes you through the chain of process of the pangasius, from consumer, to middleman to fisherman at the Mekong river. By opening the story with a woman at the market, the reader instantly relates to the scenario as a consumer down to the final process.
Online article: " Cerca del 40% de las merluzas asta' n mal etiquetadas"
Based upon the paper “High level of mislabeling in Spanish and Greek hake markets suggests the fraudulent introduction of African species”), jointly written by professors of Spanish and Greek universities, the Spanish Scientific Information and News Service SINC produced a related video and the article Cerca del 40% de las merluzas están mal etiquetadas. The story was then followed by several Spanish media like El País and La Opinión. Besides, some political groups demanded an investigation in the Parliament.
UFOTV on youtube
Living in a visual world, most of us use internet as a means of watching videos, being Youtube the most commonly video platform. Just like UFOTV, some Youtube TV channels are created in order for scientists to put across their research results. These channels receive a high number of viewers, and so giving their content a great distribution potential. In this video example leading scientists convey their opinions on the GMO.
Zoonomian is a science and technology blog inspired by the great polymath, lunar man, and author of the insightful ‘Zoonomia’ - Erasmus Darwin. It comprises personal writings, reports, and observations on a science and technology theme. It is a good example of how to use new Social media tools for scientific dissemination.
The Exploratorium is a museum of science, art, and human perception located in San Francisco, California. Online since 1993, the Exploratorium was one of the first science museums to build a site on the World Wide Web, exploring hundreds of different topics (included food science) for different audiences: a parent, a scientist, an educator, curious…
Among its many honors, the Exploratorium’s website has received Webby Awards for Best Science Site and Best Education Site a total of five times since 1997.
- 20 million visitors access the Exploratorium website, which features more than 25,000 pages of original content
- 1 million unique visits are made to Exploratorium online teaching sources
- 50+ webcasts and podcasts are produced, both at the Exploratorium and at sites worldwide
Exploratorium staff are always experimenting with new ways to interact in cyberspace—from the virtual world of Second Life to the online social-media communities of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and more.