Maps can make excellent storytelling tools. In this workshop, we’ll start with a short talk detailing what software and services are out there, including many that are free. We’ll also cover where to find useful and free geographic data. After the introduction, you'll receive a series of tutorials. Tim and Andrew will act as roving instructors, answering questions and providing assistance. The workshop will have two tracks—beginner and advanced—covering different techniques and approaches for both desktop/laptop-based software and webGIS apps that can be integrated into stories, blog posts, and websites.
Attendees with no background in cartography or GIS can expect to learn to how create web-based maps complete with links, photos, and text that can be embedded in other websites. We will also cover the creation of static, image-based maps suitable for publication on the web and in magazines and newspapers. Those with some familiarity with GIS will learn how to use an advanced webGIS system for the storage, analysis, and display of geographic information.
Please come prepared with a laptop (Mac or PC) that already has the necessary data and software. Links to the software and data along with installation instructions can be found at http://www.de-chant.com/tim/scio13
We will open the conference with a Wed night event at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center (http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center) in Raleigh (6-9 PM). It’s an amazing venue. The museum is a short walk from the Marriott/Sheraton.
We will start at 6pm. We will have light appetizers (cheese, fruit, vegetable crudités, finger sandwiches) and drinks (Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (http://www.kentuckyale.com/kentucky-bourbon-barrel-ale) and wine). Bora, Anton, and I will welcome you with a toast to the event and then encourage you to explore and start your conversations!
We encourage you to purchase some more substantial food in the Daily Planet Café (http://www.thedailyplanetcafe.com/) as you stay for the evening. Their entire menu (http://www.thedailyplanetcafe.com/menu/) will be available. At 7:45ish, our very own Brian Malow (http://www.sciencecomedian.com/) (the Science Comedian (http://www.sciencecomedian.com/) ) will entertain you from his home stage of theSECU Daily Planet (http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center/daily-planet) (a 3-story theatre inside the large globe you see outside the museum!), which is a focal point of the Nature Research Center.
Description: Only 2-10% of PhD graduates in any given year will ultimately end up in the coveted, grail-like, tenure-track position. Only a smaller proportion still will actually receive tenure. Despite this, we keep training scientists from the start of their careers that this should be the aspiration. But should the tenured academic be the norm for a science career? Out in the wider world many science graduates are on the front lines where policies get shaped, public opinions get changed, pseudoscience gets debunked, and where we aide our academic colleagues in creating real hope and change. In addition to commercial science, many science graduates run non-profit conservation organizations, form patient and health advocacy groups, work to improve law, develop software and new analytical tools and advise movers and shakers in a wide variety of sectors. There's a veritable Nerd Army always looking for a few good Sci's. But how to get there, from the universities to these non-academic careers? This session will draw on the collective wisdom of those attending to provide ammo for those unsure of their place in this world. Scientists are more broadly trained than we often give ourselves credit for and can leverage many of scientific skills in other areas.
- How do we make students aware that they most likely will not be a tenured academic?
- Where and how can students and early career people find emotional support for getting off the academic career meth? Need to move from personal stories (such as #IamScience) to practical paths.
- What are our transferable skills and how do we shift from our research focus to marketing our abilities and talents? Are there skills that should be taught during a graduate program that could enhance both the traditional path and the newer options?
- How do we teach students to think more entrepreneurially and highlight the wide variety of scientific careers that may be more readily accessible to them?
- What are the sectors that hire science graduates? Examples from industry, biotech/pharma, science writing/journalism, freelance/self-employment, non-profit and government.
How many times have you asked yourself, "Can I say 'Cryptomonads are a group of photosynthetic/algal cells,' or must I make note of that one genus that isn't photosynthetic and makes it hard to say what exactly they are?" Well, you're not alone. In scientific publication and in science communication, one of the great challenges is streamlining the message at the expense of at least SOME of the data. But lending a hat-tip to ALL the data makes for unwieldy sentences—exemptions, exceptions and uncertain language add up to difficult reading. Not all the data can be represented, but how do you incorporate it into a coherent message? How do you decide what to emphasize and what to omit? How much qualifying is 'too much'? While some choices may be more subjective than others, this session will address best practices for assembling summaries that are the most accurate representation of the data.
- How do you generalize without misrepresenting the data?
- How does one organize the transformation of raw image data (eg. micrographs) to a summary diagram?
- What sorts of details are permissible to omit?
- How does the target audience shape which details stay and go?
With always-on, high-speed internet connections, most of North America and Western Europe has no problem with accessing content that we present. However, rural areas, underdeveloped countries, and people with disabilities are deterred by multimedia-rich websites. How can we reach these under-served populations?
- What tools are there to measure your load time?
- How can we decrease load time?
- How can we make our page accessible to everyone?
These three fields are distinct entities, with their own training, traditions, audiences and goals, but must they be as separate as they are? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each field and what can we learn from each other? With a shared goal of encouraging scientific understanding and literacy, we'll explore the ways teachers, science writers, museum educators and more can work together.
- "What do you think holds back collaborations between teachers, science writers, museum educators and others interested in science outreach and education?"
- "What examples have you seen or experienced working across boundaries in formal science education, informal science education and science writing?"
- "What would be effective tools/methods to use to foster collaboration between different groups interested in scientific outreach?"
When it comes to writing about health and medicine, we all want to be the smartest kid in the room, but no one likes a show off, and scientists don't always like to hear their work criticized. Explore how to find flaws in studies, be skeptical, and include important context that separates you from scaremongerers (OMG this new bug is going to kill us all!) and practitioners of "gee-whiz" (this will be on the market in two years and cure diabetes!). And learn how to do that so the scientists who read your stuff end up with more respect for you, not less.
- What are some mistakes veteran science writers learned from when first writing about medical studies?
- How do you ask the right questions about studies without being an expert in everything?
- How do you write critically but respectfully about studies so you don't alienate authors?
- How do you find a biostatistician to keep in your back pocket?
As science writers, we work hard to snag readers and keep them reading. But there are writers out there whose examples can help us but go ignored because they write in what some disdainfully calls "genre." We're talking thrillers, mysteries, adventure, romance, police novels, sci-fi, historical fiction. There's a reason why Patrick O'Brian, Jack Patterson, Ray Bradbury, and Anne Perry have sold millions of books: The best of them have developed narrative methods and techniques — call 'em tricks if it makes you feel better — that quicken readers' attention, efficiently establish scene and character, and move narrative at whatever speeds best suits the story. Some are downright innovative. We science writers face the same problems. How do we switch between narrative strands? How do we lay down one strand so it can be picked up easily later? How do we jump from one time to another, embed exposition within scene, or describe natural forces? How can we solve the problem that tormented Chekhov, that of getting someone in and out of a room? In this workshoppy session, David Dobbs (secret passions: detective novels, Elmore Leonard, and the Aubrey-Maturin series) and Maryn McKenna (mystery writers Dorothy Sayers and Anne Perry, and YA fantasy authors you've never heard of) will unpick how these tricks work and how you can use them too. Maryn McKenna is a columnist for Scientific American and the author of Superbug and Beating Back the Devil. David Dobbs freelances for the New York Times, National Geographic, Nature, and other outlets and is writing his fifth book, The Orchid and the Dandelion. Their blogs, Superbug and Neuron Culture, are both at Wired.
How do we teach the teachers? Science educators at all levels need to hear the "inside baseball", the historical context and other interconnections which is too often dismissed as background information of little public interest. Moreover, in physics and increasingly in other fields, "context" means "mathematics", and how do we engage our audience and convey accurate information when numbers are scary? None of the existing venues for online science communication are right for this: magazines are constrained, and blogs are largely swayed, by what's topical. OpenCourseWare is scattered and of uneven quality and coverage. We need to take the ethos of the "explainer" to its logical extreme. Suppose you, Dr. Scientist, have to teach a class on your professional area to first- or second-year undergrads. You need, at a minimum, texts, but nowadays you'll also need simulation codes, sample datasets on which to practice analysis, primary literature to assign as reading.... Can you find all you need from Open-Access sources on the Web? Would you know where to look? Is there just one place to go where everything is there for you, curated and mapped? In the year 2013, why not?
- Who could host such a thing?
- Who'd pay for it?
- How do we give it the stamp of professional respectability?
- How do we integrate it into the existing science communication ecosystem?
Written stories, from features in National Geographic to blogs on Wordpress, are the bread and butter of the science online community. There's a staggering amount of diversity within that textual world, but many stories can bust out of pure text. They can live, and grow and be way more awesome when you add a little something extra. Maybe that's a podcast, or a graphic that explains what's going on. Maybe it's a slideshow, or an animation. Maybe it's a simple timeline, to clear up the order of events. Maybe it's taking that tiny nugget of the story and turning it into a cartoon. The same is true of lectures, videos and podcasts. You have words in the script, yes, but there's also lighting, sound, intonation and even the pauses between -- all powerful and vastly underutilized tools for communication. Whatever it might be, this session hopes to help you think about building out - beyond text and into the magical non-textual world. Participants will discuss examples of where build outs have worked and failed, and be able to brainstorm their own projects. The session will be predominantly theoretical, but tools to accomplish those build-outs will also be touched upon. Session attendees will walk away with a sense for the possibilities that are out there for giving their text some miracle-grow.
- You story is really cool, but it could be cooler. How can you push your story further? How do you think beyond text?
- You wrote a story. Yay! Now what about the data, graphics, interactives, podcasts, slideshows, interpretive dances and more?
- We have roughly 2500 years experience with stagecraft (at minimum). How can we apply that to science lectures?
Citizen science describes science-society collaborations that span a wide spectrum of activities under many different names, disciplines, scales, physical places around the world, and places in history. Citizen science is also called volunteer science, community-based research, street science, do-it-yourself (DIY) science, public participation in scientific research (PPSR), participatory science, web-mapping, crowd-sourcing, and more. It can be global and exclusively online via games and solving puzzles, crowd-sourcing information, or data transcription. It can be exclusively offline, such as connecting people with nature or science locally. Most commonly, citizen science involves people collecting or observing in their real world geo-referenced location and submitting the information into an online database via computer or mobile technology. From astronomy to zoology and conservation to urban planning, citizen science allows professionals and amateurs to co-produce knowledge. Session moderators will provide historic and modern-day context of citizen science and review the scope of projects and platforms/technologies that provide new frontiers for citizen science.
- Only collecting data? What scope of activities/projects qualify as #citizenscience? #scio13
- Only helping scientists? Managers, urban planners, claims adjusters…who uses the data? #scio13 #citizenscience
- #citizenscience isn’t new: what frontiers do communication technologies open for citizen science? #scio13
- Is knowledge co-produced via #citizenscience more special than knowledge via regular sci method? #scio13
- What disciplines/professionals are involved in #citizenscience? #scio13
- What types of story angles emerge from each #citizenscience project? #scio13
- How are participants recruited for #citizenscience projects?
- Can we trust #citizenscience data? #scio13
- Beyond peer-reviewed outcomes of co-produced knowledge, where to dig for #citizenscience stories? #scio13
- Is a scientific result more/less newsworthy if it came about from #citizenscience methods? #scio13
- What online tools/platforms enable #citizenscience engagement in hypotheses, protocols, data collection, data sharing, analyses? #scio13
- Evaluating select #citizenscience tools/platforms: what are their benefits/ limitations?
Press releases are becoming an increasingly powerful force in driving online science coverage. Even the best science writers use them to inspire articles and provide background information. However, they have also been implicated in some egregious examples of science communication, where problems with the publicity have received more attention than the science itself. This session will discuss how press releases should be improved, focusing on the needs of science writers.
- What are the minimum requirements for a good press release?
- How can we make press releases — which are generally one-size-fits-all — useful for news organizations with vastly different practices?
- Is there a way to make the process more efficient for both PIOs and reporters?
- Do writers prefer to have information given under embargo and if so, how much time is preferred?
- Should attempts be made to explain the importance of a result, or is there too much potential for hype?
- How useful are quotes in press releases?
- How useful is it for PIOs to provide independent experts for comment and context?
- How much effort should be spent producing deeper context or background in case longer articles are being considered?
- What do reporters think of alternatives to the standard press release? E.g. just posting a title, lede, quotes and a link to the paper?
- What about stopping traditional press releases & instead advertizing blog articles with social media? What are some other alternatives?
This companion website to The Science Writers' Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish and Prosper in the Digital Age (Da Capo Press, April 2013) will provide online resources and advice from nearly 3 dozen writers about the craft, commerce and community of science writing.
Dr. Brian Hare is associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina and a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, which is a division of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, founded the Hominoid Psychology Research Group while at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and subsequently founded the Duke Canine Cognition Center when arriving at Duke University.
In addition to serving as the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, Brian is the co-founder of Dognition, a truly revolutionary new service for dog lovers to be released in early 2013. For those who treasure a deeper relationship with their dogs, Dognition provides fun, cognitive science-based games that help you discover the unique way that your dog sees the world.
Every owner has wondered at one time or other: What is my dog really thinking? Or why does my dog behave the way he does? With Dognition, you can begin to answer these questions and more, while discovering new ways to connect with your dog. What’s more, all of the data aggregated by Dognition will help scientists like Brian make exciting new breakthroughs in dog cognition, contributing to the greater good of all dogs.
Brian co-authored The Genius of Dogs with Vanessa Woods, available Feb. 5, 2013.
Mathematicians often use numerical algorithms as a research tool. The codes are a means to an end and usually shared within research groups. What can mathematicians learn from computer science and open source projects? From librarians and repositories? What are the impediments to sharing code more widely? What are the pros and cons? What infrastructure and management work best?
OggiScienza is an italian online science magazine (http://oggiscienza.it) published using cc license, free to read; differently from most publications we pay all the contributing journalists/bloggers and try to generate some revenues repackaging the content for iPhone/iPad and selling the subscriptions. Will it work? Time will tell...
Academia.edu is a platform for academics to share research papers. Academia.edu provides academics with altmetrics around the impact of their work: readership metrics showing how many readers they have, and demographics of those readers. Researchers on Academia.edu regularly submit to their tenure committees their altmetrics from Academia.edu to demonstrate the impact of their work. Richard Price, the founder of Academia.edu, will talk about how Academia.edu's altmetrics are changing the way that research is evaluated, and about how altmetrics will evolve in the future. 2.2 million academics have joined Academia.edu, and over 5,000 academics join each day.
EPA's Village Green Project - High-tech air measurements at your neighborhood park
Paragraph: How would you go about designing and building an educational air and weather-monitoring station that would require less energy than a clock radio, blend seamlessly into a public park or playground, stream useful data to a website, and at a price tag where one could envision deployment of multiple systems? Come hear about one of EPA's Office of Research and Development new projects that involves an interdisciplinary research team. Join us "on the Village Green" with Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) recipient Dr. Gayle Hagler. Come with questions, comments, suggestions and encouragement for our scientists to help us improve a project that aims to provide additional information to assess air quality and support sustainable communities.
Many ethical issues arise while conducting research. What happens when citizen scientists start doing research outside the scope of institutional review boards, medical ethical committees or institutional animal care and use committees? While there is a long history of researchers experimenting on themselves, there is an equally long history of vulnerable groups being taken advantaged of without proper ethical oversight. How does this history and experience dovetail with citizen scientists and researchers who are not a part of this narrative history, and may not have the experience - or ethical self-regulation - to know where to draw a line in the proverbial sand? While there are standards for traditional medical research - still too frequently violated - how are they, or should they, be applied to citizen science research? Join us as we discuss the historical context of ethical research and examine contemporary influential issues, and how this affects and applies to citizen science.
- Who provides ethical oversight for the maker/DIY bio culture? (Who does, and who should? Are they the same people?)
- Who should be responsible for insuring that research undertaken by non-institutionally affiliated researchers is ethical?
- Is there a need for a citizens ethicist group, to provide oversight in to research?
- What are the most effective and efficient ways for a citizen scientist to educate herself about ethical regulations and issues?
- Are you obligated to tell research subjects that you may profit from their tissues and other contributions?
- Many consumers felt misled by 23andMe's consent form [URL to controversy]; how does this affect disclosure needs?
- Ownership of research is contentious in trad research; how should it be handled in citizen groups? [styrofoam URL]
- What does research - and consent - mean to different populations/communities?
- Should crowd-sourced projects be required to seek IRB approval?
- Does placing ethical constraints on DIYbio/art hamper creativity?
Cultivating a space where commentators can vigorously disagree with a writer--whether on a blog, Twitter, G+, or Facebook, *and* remain committed to being in a real dialogue is pretty challenging. It's fantastic when these exchanges work and become constructive in that space. On the other hand, there are times when it goes off the rails despite your efforts. What drives the difference? How can you identify someone who is commenting simply to cause trouble versus a commenter there to engage in and add value to a genuine debate? What influence does this capacity for *anyone* to engage with one another via the great leveler that is social media have on social media itself and the tenor and direction of scientific communication?
- Are there immediate signs of a troll commenter and type (concern troll, etc.)? What are they? How do you respond?
- What are some keys to a strong comment policy that encourages open, candid discussion but discourages troll behavior?
- What do you do about well-meaning commenters who engage trolls but in ways that themselves don't forward the discussion?
- Is there a difference in ways of managing trolls or turning the conversation to constructive on Twitter vs blogs vs G+? Do some basic rules apply?
he after-hours discussions at SciO12 yielded a surprisingly heated meme that persisted for weeks: Press Officers Are Sending Stuff Out Without Scientists' Knowledge! Shock and alarm ensued. Responses from press officers, scientists and writers ranged from skepticism to confirmation. Both claims can't be right, can they?
How many press releases are unreviewed by scientists?
Did nobody look at it, or was it just you who was left out? (Are you a grad student?)
What do scientists really mean by "inaccurate" in a press release?
What do scientists really mean by "didn't vet" a press release?
What would be the harm of un-reviewed stories being released?
Where does "churnalism" come from? Can we trust it?
Who does the PIO work for, really?
Who are the PIOs? How are they trained? What are the rules?
Bonus question -- Who are the bigger jerks: scientists who won't speak plainly, journalists who believe they're prophets of Truth, or press officers who don't understand the stories they're selling?
Research supports several practices in science education that "work", including active learning, tying new knowledge to prior knowledge, and recommendations from the NSF Vision and Change report for Biology Education. Participants will describe evidence-based science education practice, with examples, then will discuss how to incorporate these practices in online science communication. If the participants wish, we can discuss whether MOOCs are opportunities for science outreach.
- What works in science education?
- Is Science Online science education?
- What are effective science ed practices for science online?
- Are MOOCs an opportunity for science outreach?
Many (most) conventional forms of science communication (books, blogs, films, focused and/or beat-driven journalism) speak to self-selecting audiences. Several analyses have pointed to the growing “tribal” or partisan divide being a reliable predictor of acceptance of rejection of scientific findings on subjects like climate change, evolution and others. That’s part of the context that frames the question of how to reach beyond those who already know they’re interested in science. And then there’s this: over the last (n) years (where n is some length of time just slightly shorter than the speaker at the time has been doing whatever s/he does in science communication) there has been an enormous expansion in the ways science popularizers and audiences interact. From the impact of social media to the development radically local approaches like Story Collider and the science festival movement, experiments with form, venue, and approaches to the formation of audience and/or community have significantly broadened the opportunities for science and members of the public to encounter each other. Most important, a common thread among these newer genres and approaches has been framed the idea of science as an expression of culture, and not just a body of knowledge or of methods.
With this in mind, this session hopes to create a forum where we explore these developments more fully. Among facets of the issue to be discussed: we hope to raise and learn of examples where the best impact may be gained by deliberately not compartmentalizing definitions of science, but rather by reaching out through the exploration of all the nuances and different perspectives that science can offer us. From there we’ll go where the participants take the discussion, but some questions present in the moderators minds include thinking critically about the various ways the enterprise of science has been presented in the popular setting – how important is it to emphasize the usefulness of science; its historical significance, the creativity of its approach and the sheer awesomeness of its results, to name a few possibilities. At the same time, assuming participant interest, we can address questions of goals: what is it that popular science communication can (or should) strive to do?
David is currently focusing on a project that tries to address big questions, such as “What is science?” and “What does it mean to be scientifically literate?” at a level where younger children can contribute. Basically, something that gets all children, who even at an early age are shown to self identity with certain “choirs,” to value “questioning everything” but to also do this by using that thing we call the scientific method, the good and the bad. He hopes that this session, with its core audience of public science communicators, can add much needed insight to this intention.
Tom teaches and practices science communication. He hopes this discussion will offer some hints about how to do both better – and to reverse the conclusion that one might plausibly draw about the first quarter century of his working life: that his career is correlated with a net negative impact on the public engagement with science
- Why do some people not care about or even like science? How might one engage them?
- Do perceptions of science make science communication all the more challenging?
- What are some ways of talking or interacting with science that are most effective in reaching the “unconverted?”
- Do you find yourself always preaching to the choir?
How do we understand data? In an age of ever-exploding amounts of information, we face the age-old challenge of making meaning out of complex subjects. Because our eyes can process vast amounts of data quickly, visualization is one key tool in helping us see the big picture, and can be a critical tool for communicating science. But data visualization is more than just word clouds and pie charts, and is informed by a long history of information design, computer science and statistics. This session will explore the process of visualization – how to acquire, question, filter and represent data into clear and powerful visual stories.
- What are some design principles that inform data visualization?
- What are some tips, tricks, and tools that can help with telling visual stories?
- What's the difference between an infographic and a data visualization?
- How can I use data visualization in science?
- What questions should I keep in mind as I make a visualization?
- How do I decide what form a visualization should take?
- What role do colors and typography play in my data visualization?
As researchers, we have many impacts that aren't currently well-reported. Our papers are read, our software is used, our datasets support new research, our blogs and tweets spawn and grow scholarly conversations, and our findings are re-used to create technology and treatments which improve the human condition. Measurements of citation, the current gold standard, capture none of this. In the last few years, growing numbers of people have been talking supplementing citations with altmetrics: measures of research impacts mining online tools including Twitter, blogs, Mendeley, and more. Today, there are several tools--including total-impact and altmetric.com--that can be used by working researchers to gather these metrics. We'll take a look at these tools, and talk about how we can use their data to help understand our own broader impacts. We'll also talk about how we can use that data to help more effectively convey our impacts to others who wish to build upon our work, including fellow scientists, evaluators,companies, and funders.
- What kind of scholarly impacts matter? Which ones aren't being rewarded?
- What tools can help me gather my own altmetrics? What are their respective strengths and weaknesses?
- What's the relationship between impact and influence? Authoritative vs. Influential?
- What's the role of non-academic researchers?
- How do we best report altmetrics?
- How can we best bring our social media impacts to the attention of evaluators?
When it comes to science storytelling, animation is a filmmaker's best friend. It engages symbolic and imaginative thinking, taking your story to places where photos, video demonstration, and verbal explanation can't go. Motion graphics, 3D modeling, stop motion (done with illustrations, live actors, or models), data visualizations—all of these can be highly effective methods for communicating a difficult concept, process or mechanism, and making it approachable. Whether you generate animation yourself, work with animators, or would like to get started, this session will address the basic components of successful animation and provide guidelines for thinking in pictures. We'll look at examples of different types of animation—from science videos and elsewhere—to analyze the effectiveness of different styles and techniques. Even non-science animations from popular movies and television utilize visual elements that can be applied to science stories. The goal is to become more comfortable constructing sentences out of images, not words. Want to get started? You don't need expensive tools or software—anyone can animate sequences of still images stitched together in free software like iMovie (Mac) or Microsoft Movie Maker (Windows). iMovie is also available on iPhone and iPad, as are other stop-motion apps (Stop-motion Camera, iMotion HD, Stop Motion Cafe). There are other free downloadable options for Windows and Mac, and free online editing programs. But if you don't want to animate for yourself, the session will help you prepare for collaborating with animators. Even a non-animator will benefit from understanding what makes animations successful, and how to prepare the content for visual translation.
- Why use animation to tell science stories?
- What can animation communicate that footage, stills, or text explanation can't?
- What are the steps for preparing and creating animation for your story?
- How can you get started animating, either alone or through collaboration?
Coffee causes cancer – no wait, it prevents it. Early detection is always better – but maybe screening is not always a good idea after all. There is a constant barrage of this kind of message about cancer in research, the media and awareness campaigns. Those messages often conflict. It’s no wonder people get confused, or become totally fatalistic and dismiss the important cancer-related messages along with the less valuable. How can science writers and scientists cover research on cancer causes, prevention and screening without increasing fear, false hope or confusion?
- Cancer prevention, the worried well and fatalistic high-risk groups: what is the role of the science writer?
- How do you balance science’s dynamic process with engaging the public about diseases as complex and highly feared as cancer?
- What role for cancer awareness-raising in communities that already overestimate their risk?
- How can journalists and scientists improve news coverage about cancer causes and prevention?
Many discussions of science journalism are increasingly focusing on the need for investigative reporting -- deep digging that exposes something someone wants to hide. This is important. But it isn't the only type of science writing with value. Is really good explanatory science writing becoming a poor relation here? You don't have to expose a scandal to create original, well-crafted content that has real value to the reader/viewer/listener. Sometimes, to explain something really well is enough. Yet with newsrooms cutting back, and focusing the limited resources they have for off-diary research on investigation, good explanation of science for general audiences is taking a back seat. It's time consuming and expensive, but doesn't either carry the kudos or attract the eyeballs that makes news organisations take notice. The Wellcome Trust (where Mark is Head of Communications) is about to launch an online project that will commission high-quality explanatory content (including infographics, animation, video as well as long-form writing) about the areas of science the Trust funds -- but not restricted to its actual scientists. An alpha or beta version of the site is likely to launch soon after Scio 13. Meanwhile, Ed has been writing a column for the BBC that tries to take a more detailed explanatory look at the more far-flung promises of typical news reports. He's also found that his explainers, like an oxytocin piece for Slate, and an ENCODE mega-post on his own blog, have been some of his most popular work this year. Ed and Mark will argue for the value of explanatory content, and explore what makes it good. Mark and Mun-Keat Looi will introduce the Wellcome project, explain what we're looking for, and canvass for improvements -- and of course ideas we might commission.
- What makes good explanatory science writing?
- Who should it be aimed at, and what are the differences between aiming at specialist and general audiences?
- Who's supporting good explanatory science journalism, and why?
- Is explanatory science writing just PR for science?
Both scientists and science writers are trained to be skeptical, both prioritize evidence-based knowledge over intuitions and premoninitions, and both believe the scientific method is the best tool we have for understanding the world we live in. This creates unique opportunities for collaboration and cooperation -- witness ScienceOnline -- but also present unique challenges. What is the appropriate border between writing about a topic and advocating for a cause? Does writing passionately about biological diversity and its losses automatically make one an environmental activist? Does writing about the harmful effects of vaccine denialism mean it's appropriate to partner with the CDC on communication strategies? What do science writers risk when they use their knowledge and connections to influence public policy? This session, led by two writers who have dealt with these issues in their own work, will be structured as a lively discussion on a topic about which there are few clear answers and many strong opinions.
We've all faced the difficult task of writing or speaking about evolution, climate change, or any number of scientific topics that lack public understanding and unanimous support. In this session, Melanie and Cara will bring their combined experience in social/cognitive/personality psychology and persuasion/science communication to the table while we discuss the best practices for persuading science deniers without turning them off from the conversation. Other topics include how to tell the difference between ignorant-yet-innocent commenters and trolls, whether or not some people are simply beyond reach, how to effectively communicate with difficult-to-reach people, and if & when the "no apologies" approach to science communication is an effective strategy.
How can we persuade science deniers without turning them off from the conversation?
What can social, cognitive, & personality psychology teach us about science denialism?
How do you differentiate between innocent ignorance, curiosity, and trolling?
Are some people simply beyond reach? What can persuasion psychology teach us about reaching the unreachable?
Is it effective to take the "no apologies" approach, or do we end up simply preaching to the choir?
How can we use "persuasion tricks" to effectively get scientific messages across to a stubborn audience?
Many large-scale citizen science projects excel at generating public excitement about their work and engaging participants in data collection. Yet, increasingly project organizers aim for much more than a one-off data contribution by participants – we want to engage citizen scientists in the whole process of science, from hypothesis generation through analysis and development of next steps, including future projects. Unfortunately, the process of science can be slow, twisted and even arduous, with long lag times between initial participation and return of results. How do we keep participants interested and engaged during the interim? Can we build communities of interest around projects as a means for maintaining long-term engagement with our citizen scientists? We hope to draw diverse voices into this conversation, hearing from participants and organizers of other engaged online communities (#NASAsocial; Personal Genome Project; DIY, maker and gaming communities come to mind…)
- What are the hallmarks of an engaged community rallied around citizen science? Or do we just know it when we see it? (Useful to consider for evaluation of projects)
- How can we improve dialogue with citizen scientists? Are social media and blogs enough?
- What lessons can we learn from other science (and non-science!) organizations who’ve successfully engaged communities? (Think community groups, political campaigns)
- What tools do you use for building community and effectively fostering communication among members of your group?
- Grassroots or top-down? What’s the best way to facilitate community-building within citizen science organizations?
- What can we do in the interim (specific examples!), during the lag time between steps in the scientific process, to sustain participant interest?
In today's advertising and pop culture, words like "chemical", "synthetic" and "artificial" are synonyms for harmful, toxic and carcinogenic, while words like "natural" and "organic" imply a product is wholesome and good for the environment. This widespread misconception colors public perceptions of chemistry and its role in the modern world. Chemophobia may not be as direct a threat to our future as, say, climate change denialism or the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, but it clouds public understanding of real and very important issues we face (e.g., how to boost agricultural productivity) and plays into the hands of quacks and cranks. How can bloggers and the media effectively combat chemophobia? How much chemistry does the public need to know to be well-informed and make good decisions, and what's the most effective avenue for disseminating that kind of information? Proposed session hashtag: #chemophobia
How important is it to confront misuse of the term 'chemical' vs general fearmongering?
What're good tips for writing about chemophobia without preaching to the choir?
How can bloggers have a clear message as they confront diverse chemophobes (anti-vax, anti-GMO, etc)?
In discussions of altmetrics and citation metrics, we usually think in terms of "here and now" and are looking from the angle of the active researcher who needs to find and curate recent and incoming information, get measures of one's own impact etc. But the ability to identify long-term patterns, e.g., multiple spikes in citations (or mentions in books, articles, blog posts) over years and decades is the stuff of dreams for historians and other social scientists. This is what they do for a PhD - spending years in libraries (sometimes having to travel halfway around the world to other libraries), just to indentify such patterns. Now they can get this done in days (or minutes) and instantly move on to what they really should be doing - analysing and intrepreting these patterns. This session would explore the ways historians and anthropologists of science can use these tools so they can get the most out of them.
- How have you used altmetrics in history or social science?
- What tools do you find most useful for analyzing altmetrics?
- What barriers exist when applying altmetrics in #histsci or sociology of science?
Scientists, journalists, and communicators working outside of the United States and the UK face fundamentally different problems from those living within well-served media landscapes. For example: Canada has few science magazines, a couple television shows, and a handful of radio programmes aimed at a general science audience (with the exception of the French-speaking Quebec, which has a dynamic science writing community). Government funded research grants do not require outreach or education. And, government scientists have been all but barred from talking to journalists. In Canada and other countries with sparse science communication infrastructures, the dominant issues revolve not around journalists vs bloggers, or scientists vs press releases vs the media, but instead focus on what can be done to make science communication exist at all, in any form. This session will explore how scientists, educators, and media people can promote scientific discussions and scientific interest in regions that lack established venues.
- With no budget and no established venues, how would you share science in your community?
- With no magazines or science cafés to provide an audience, what other groups in your community might want to learn some science?
- What can scientists, journalists, writers and educators do to push media outlets for more and better science coverage?
- What might your local general news outlet expect of you if you approach or talk with them about science topics?
This session will focus on improving science engagement and education through the innovative use of games! Video games have become the largest entertainment industry in the world, but they don't just stop at entertainment any more. Video games, and game design, are all about engagement, and creating experiences that teach skills as well as knowledge. From games working to improve education and science learning, to "smart gamification" for science, and how to make science games fun, this discussion will dive into the rapidly growing potential of games!
After spending years with your online life separate from your professional life, it can be quite disconcerting when the two start to overlap. From alarming hallway conversations to angry phone calls, having your colleagues read your blog (especially if they themselves are not social media users) can lead to unexpected interactions. These can either be positive (“Some Nature editor said you were the most famous ocean writer on the internet!”) or negative (“When do you have time to do science?”). This session will discuss the ramifications of scientist-blogger success, particularly for early-career scientists.
Questions: - Should your online life be separate from your professional life?
- If your online life is separate, how do you keep it that way?
- How do you deal with skeptical colleagues who stumble across your online work?
- Is there such a thing as too much visibility?
- Overall, do you experience more positive or negative interactions from your social media use?
- Do interactions change with career stage?
Blogging as a graduate student is a great way of keeping abreast of topical research as well as using one's expertise to communicate science to the public. It might also turn into a great segue out of the lab and into a career in science communication. However, your P.I. might not agree. In the current climate of job shortages, not just in academia, it would be great to discuss the value of blogging and networking (and building an online presence and brand) while working on an advanced degree. But what are the pitfalls of making the decision to do this? How do you navigate the negative vibes coming from your mentors and often peers? And lastly, what are the long term effects of blogging in grad school?
Do you worry about how your P.I. views your blogging (or do you keep it a secret)?
Do you use Twitter to publicize your blog?
Has blogging in grad school helped or hindered you on the job market?
Learn the basics of design, execution, and online sharing of science comics. We will cover current works by contemporary science comics and discuss the creative process, including considerations such as realism, anthropomorphism, and symbolism. The session culminates in a comic workshop where you will illustrate your own science comic and share it online. Art experience not required. Stick figures welcome.
- How can comics effectively communicate science concepts?
- What are some examples of great science comics?
- How do you execute a science comic?
So, you have a great idea for a book. Or at least you think you do. But is it a book, or just another article? How can you tell the difference? And once you do, how do you go from the idea to the actual book? What's the process like, and how is it different from every other writing assignment you've taken on? How do you take a massive amount of information and turn it into something not only readable but a joy to read? And how do you stay sane—and excited—in the process? Writing a book can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. But it can also pose a challenge to your skills and your peace of mind?? Veteran and aspiring authors are invited to join Katherine Sharpe, author of “Coming of Age on Zoloft,” and Maria Konnikova, author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,” in a discussion of how to tackle writing’s ultimate long distance event.
- How do you know which idea is “the one”?
- What makes a book different from a long article?
- How do you know if you’re in trouble—and what do you do if you are?
- What are the resources available to you, and when is the right time to use them?
- What do you need to know about writing a book proposal?
- What should you know going in? / What do you wish you'd known going in?
- Authors in the house: what would you do differently next time?
- How can you get the most out of your relationship with your editor?
- How do you know when to stop researching and start writing (or should you do them at the same time)?
- A happy writer is a good writer? (How do you take care of yourself under pressure?)
- How do you balance writing with your other commitments?
- What do you do if writing your book isn't enough to pay the bills?
- I delivered my first pass manuscript. Now what?
Scio13 is a mixture of many different communities. But sometimes it feels like we are "preaching to the choir." How can we move outside traditional audiences for science and outreach, to reach new communities? Science Fiction Conventions are some of the largest and longest running large cons around. South by Southwest and Netroots Nations are some of the largest social media gatherings in the US. The hard work of bringing lots of people together is already done. How can scientists and science educators break in and work with some of those audiences to broaden the scope of our outreach efforts? Most professional science societies are still unfamiliar and uncertain about the role and/or potentially positive influence of social media on our professional activities. How can we convince them science online is a good idea?
What outreach have you done that was NOT in the context of a school, museum, or science-sponsored activity?
What is key to making a session at a non-science or non-education related conference attractive enough to get an audience?
What unexpected pitfalls to being at a non-science, non-education conference have you encountered?
Do you think you could present your research in a visually oriented format, eg graphic novel, animation?
How can you network to get a spot on a conference schedule?
Do outreach methods need to change with different audiences?
Is this all just an excuse for Bug and Emily to present science while wearing costumes?
We are all made up of many identities -- our gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and politics, to name a few. Some of these identities affect what we choose to write, and sometimes the identities of those who read or interact with us influence their reactions to our work. This has consequences for how widely we are read, for the kinds of attention we get, positive and negative, and the repercussions this attention has on our roles across our online communities. So Sci and Kate ask, who are we, as scientists, educators, journalists, and communicators? And how can we work on using aspects of our internet identities to help us get our messages across, and increasing the diversity of the identities we see in online science? Join us in a discussion on how we form our identities online, how they change over time, and how they impact our lives, our presence on the internet, and the messages we send.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -- George Santayana. Lots of stories, events and controversies in science today are reflections of similar events that happened years, decades or even centuries earlier! This session is proposed as a general discussion of how the stories of the past can be used to shed light and understanding on current controversies in science. Perhaps we can learn new ways forward in social and political problems related to science by looking back on the past? And even if the past may not break us loose from the chains of the present, this session will look at whether history -- in either its contents or its methods -- offers tools the science journalist can use in the construction of compelling stories of inquiry in the here and now.
1. What sort of controversies have appeared time and time again in the scientific community?
2. Which historical scientific controversies hold lessons for us in the present?
3. What kinds of histories can/should a science journalist try to use?
4. Why does the audience care about/value history anyway?
Increasingly, people in the science world seem to play multiple roles. Some are scientists and journalists. Others are journalists and PIOs. Some teach with one hand, research with the other, and blog with their faces. How do we handle the tensions between roles that can have conflicting priorities and values, and how do we partition our different identities online?
Recently many blog post archives on scienceblogs.com went offline. (Temporarily) Based on tweets just after the outage this is a real problem to many people. One issue is the disappearance of links for citations in scientific papers. This points out a "real" problem, data can be ephemeral. We are all here because we think science blogs matter, and as we see science blogs being further integrated into science communication we know we need to figure out better ways to make sure big chunks of the science blogs universe don't just disappear overnight.The goal of this session is to try and hash out some practical ideas for how we might go about preserving a wide swath of science blogs.
1. Do we want to create an opt-in list where anyone with a science blog can alert libraries and archives that they are happy to give their permission to archive their blog? (If so how would something like that work?)
2. What role can different kinds of libraries and archives play in preserving science blogs? For those affiliated with universities, how could institutional repositories become means for preserving this content?
3. Would some org be interested in creating a science blogs archive or repository that would not just aggregate feeds, but save copies of them?
People who would never read about the latest genomics discoveries will turn out in droves for scifi movies like Prometheus that deal (poorly) with genomics. How can we turn pop culture events into teachable moments that help mainstream audiences understand the fundamentals of real science? We'll explore few ways to do this that can be applied in journalism, teaching, or other forms of science communication. Three of the obvious avenues of engagement are: 1) debunkery (showing how Prometheus gets it wrong), 2) complimentary stories (what is the real science that could make the panspermia scenario in Prometheus possible?), and 3) "found science" stories where we pick scenes or moments that can be used to demonstrate concepts and principles in science (e.g., fight scenes and classical mechanics). But those are just the beginning. Bring your questions and ideas!
- In our writing, how can we strike the right balance between having fun, keeping it at the right level for a general audience, and still making sure the science is accurate?
- How do we measure "success" in conveying difficult scientific ideas to a lay audience?
- What are some good examples of using science fiction to explain science to a general audience? Bad ones?
- Do we risk dumbing down or inappropriately spicing up our stories by using science fiction to explore science?
How do you explain evolution to an elementary-schooler? Can you make teenagers care about tectonic plates? If you’re not cool enough will they give up on science forever (and pick you last in kickball)? This session will explore the challenges and rewards of writing for kids. We’ll discuss getting to know your audience and speaking their language. We’ll ask how graphics, humor, games and activities can help get your point across. We’ll talk about social media presence and reaching out to new groups. And we’ll see why if you can talk about science to kids, you can talk about science to anyone.
- How can you get to know your audience (whether preschoolers, high-schoolers, or homeschoolers) and what excites them?
- Can you simplify complex topics without dumbing them down?
- How should you handle controversial subjects (and your readers’ parents)?
- Should you say that on Twitter? How important is outreach and your social media persona?
- How can cartoons, graphics, humor, games, and hands-on activities help you engage audiences of different ages?