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Article on scientists’ use of Twitter cites Sciencewise publication

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An article in the Journal of Promotional Communications on the role of Twitter in public engagement on science issues cites the Sciencewise publication ‘Sustainable Participation’ (by Jason Chilvers) as a source for understanding the shift from deficit to dialogue.

The article does not take a view on whether deficit or dialogue is fundamentally superior, nor whether there is an inevitable progression from one to the other, but rather that both models are assumed to have a role in public engagement.

The focus of the article is on the ways in which US and UK scientists use Twitter, especially the hashtag #scicomm. It concludes that the scientists in this study did not use Twitter as an engagement mechanism but that it was part of a broader life, straddling professional and personal boundaries. As such, the author concludes that:

“regardless of the engagement agenda of individual scientists using it, Twitter may significantly change the nature of science communication. Twitter creates 'ambient awareness' which can generate strong feelings of closeness and intimacy (Kaplan and Haenlein 2011). If en masse these scientists tweet about their lives, organise social events and collaborations, challenge their superiors, post pictures of their pets or their particle colliders, all in plain sight of a potentially limitless audience, then there seems to be an opportunity for Twitter to fulfil this role. As Jackson and Lilleker (2011) point out in the case of UK Members of Parliament's use of Twitter, this can arguably break down barriers between scientist and non-scientists, and encourage greater trust and interest and build an impression of scientists that surpasses pejorative media narratives.”

‘Sustainable participation? Mapping out and reflecting on the field of public dialogue on science and technology’, by Jason Chilvers. Published by Sciencewise in 2010.
Smith, Alison. 2015. ‘Wow, I didn't know that before; thank you’: How scientists use Twitter for public engagement, Journal of Promotional Communications, 3 (3): 320-339.