Science Popularization and Open Science

Project description

The project “Science Popularization and Open Science” is dedicated to the openness of science for the broad public by communicating scientific findings and developments in an appropriate and understandable matter.

Nowadays, the models of communication of science with the public suggest a two-way negotiation of meaning between scientists and non-scientists (dialogue approach instead of a linear one-way knowledge transfer from experts to laypersons). Furthermore, science popularization may also involve input into decision making about science and allows for knowledge co-production (in the sense of a participatory approach). Based on these conceptualizations, science popularization is closely connected with Open Science. The possibilities of Open Science, digitalization of science, and Science 2.0 open up new ways of interaction (e.g., non-scientists can take part in discussions in scientific blogs) and thus, can have strong influence on information processing, understanding and the development of attitudes towards scientific topics. Another important aspect is the potential of practical initiatives of opening science for the broad public, for example podium discussions between scientists and non-scientists, interactive exhibitions at museums, or the integration of scientific information in everyday activities (e.g., scientific wallpapers in trains). Besides these promising developments, also possible shortcomings have to be considered, for example the danger of contextual biases.

Important research topics of the project “Science Popularization and Open Science” include:

  • Appropriate framing of scientific information (e.g., by narrations/storytelling; different formats or media)
  • Fostering the understanding of scientific information and development of scientific knowledge and concepts
  • Balancing the competing concerns of scientific correctness and comprehensibility for non-scientists (e.g., avoiding the so-called easiness effect)
  • Addressing and effectively debunking misconceptions and scientific myths (e.g., avoiding the so-called backfire-effect)
  • Presentation and perception of scientific controversies (e.g., avoiding the so-called conformation bias).
  • Perceived credibility of scientific information (relation to the media competence of non-scientists to correctly estimate the source of information)
  • Participation of the broad public in the scientific process (besides citizen science, e.g., fostering discussions between scientists and non-scientists on blogs or face-to-face

Project activities and prospective research agenda

Based on former research on science popularization and science communication, the identified research topics (listed above) will be addressed since they are highly relevant for Open Science but partly unexplored and partly their practical application is not evaluated so far.

The project activities include mainly empirical studies to receive further scientific insights that enable the improvement of science popularization in the course of Open Science and digitalization of science. Additionally, promising and innovative initiatives of science popularization will be academically accompanied in order to support a continuous optimization.