Author: Marina Joubert – Stellenbosch University, South Africa

In 1977, American sociologist Rae Goodell wrote in “The visible scientist” that the scientific community was “a morass of conflicting and changing attitudes on the subject of communicating with society”, and that this was fuelling scientists’ doubts regarding public prominence. Forty years later, scientists continue to face conflicting norms and expectations as far as their public profiles are concerned, leading to lingering ambivalence about public visibility.

In this paper, I will reflect on contradictory views about scientists’ public visibility as reported in recent science communication literature, followed by my own findings on how publicly visible scientists in South Africa respond to these contradictions and tensions. I will present some of the influences that compel scientists to go public with their research, as well as the factors that continue to constrain their public visibility. I will show how scientists still adhere to some of the ‘rules’ for going public that was suggested by Goodell in 1977, while some of these rules have been thrown overboard in a fast-changing science communication landscape in a developing country setting.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Applying science communication research to practice