Author: Yin-Yueh Lo – Shih Hsin University. Taiwan

Acknowledging the association between knowledge society and economic growth, the Taiwanese Government has begun to promote PCST. There is a call for more science popularization and other forms of interactions between science and the public such as dialogs and citizen science. Universities and publicly funded research centers outside the university system are crucial actors in science communication in terms of financial resources and access to scientists as knowledge-producers. This is particularly true in Taiwan because of its lack of quality science journalism. Yet, the science organizations’ role in connecting science and society has received little attention in Taiwan so far. We therefore explored public information officers’ understanding of their role and how science PR in Taiwan aims to connect science and the public. Twelve science PR professionals from 11 different organizations were interviewed. One result is that the priority of science communication – i.e. communication related to research – within the organizations’ overall public relations activities is higher in the PR of research centers than in that of universities. The latter focus on their obvious relevance as educational institutions while the research centers’ image depends on the excellence and social relevance of their research. Based on our preliminary results we argue that science PR cannot replace the observer role of science journalism but – considering the lack of quality science journalism in Taiwan – science PR may have a function in the provision of knowledge and in making science transparent to the public. Based on a grant from the Taiwanese Ministry of Science and Technology we currently continue our research with a more representative research design consisting of a content analysis of the websites of Taiwanese universities and research centers and a standardized online survey among PR professionals.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation

Author: Yin-Yueh Lo – Shih Hsin University, Taiwan

Co-author: Chun Ju Huang – National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

Public representations of science and medicine are not only influenced by communication about actual scientific projects, findings, or explanations of medical problems. They are also shaped by novels, movies or TV dramas that focus on science-related topics and include scientists or medical professionals as characters. The question is whether fiction mostly proliferates a contorted image of science and medicine, or whether it contributes to a more comprehensive image.

This paper analyses the case of the popular Taiwanese fictional TV series “Wake Up” that centers on an anesthesiologist. We explored the production of the medical scenes, in particular the important role of the medical consultant. Results are based on a content analysis of the series and on interviews with the producer and the medical consultant, an anesthesiologist himself.

Medical knowledge is only peripherally presented in the program; its focus is on the social practice of medicine. The story reveals the injustice of the management hierarchy in a hospital and displays ethical conflicts in clinical practice. The main function of the medical consultant was to ensure authenticity of the atmosphere in the clinical scenes. The producer was very concerned about the clinical authenticity of the scenes, not because he was genuinely interested in accuracy but because he expected authenticity to enhance the entertaining function of the fictional story by increasing empathy of the audience.

Two main conclusions can be drawn: Fictional stories may help the audience understand the organizational context of science or medicine. And story producers show an interest in scientific/medical authenticity because they anticipate a positive effect on audience success. To better understand the actual effects of scientific/medical authenticity in fiction the next phase of our study will focus on audience reception.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices

Author: Yin-Yueh Lo – Shih Hsin University, Taiwan

Co-author: Hans Peter Peters – Research Center Juelich, Germany

Scientists were often criticized of assuming a one-way, educational approach in public science communication with superior scientific knowledge flowing from science to a passive lay public suffering from a knowledge “deficit”. However, recent conceptions of science communication emphasize active and diverse publics, discourses involving scientists and laypeople, co-construction of knowledge, and public participation in the governance of S&T – ideas often summarized under the label of “public engagement”. The question arises to what extent scientists have adopted these ideas, some of which may challenge traditional views of scientific autonomy.

This paper provides some answers to this question with a particular focus on cross-cultural differences. Such differences may result from a time lag caused by the diffusion of the public engagement ideas from the Anglo-Saxon world, where they originated, to other countries. Differences may also result because the adoption of public engagement is more or less compatible with different national science cultures, in particular the demand for scientific autonomy.

In an online survey of scientists in Taiwan, Germany and the USA (n=815) we asked about scientists’ beliefs and preferences regarding the public, the relationship of science and the public, and public communication of science.

The survey shows clear differences between Taiwanese and Western scientists. Taiwanese scientists have more skeptical views of the public than their Western colleagues, and more strongly want to guide public opinion. Western scientists distinguish more clearly between scholarly communication and public communication than Taiwanese scientists who, surprisingly, are more prepared to accept public participation in science. Professional autonomy may thus be less important for Taiwanese than Western scientists. In the Taiwanese case, accepting participatory public engagement is probably less an attempt to create a new kind of science-public relationship (as in the Anglo-Saxon approach) but rather the consequence of a science system traditionally prone to external demands.

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

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Comparing science communication across cultures