Author: Kathryn Eleanor O’Hara – Carleton university, Canada


  • Kathryn O’Hara – adjunct research professor, School of Journalism and Communication. Carleton University, Canada

A search for a unique SciArt aesthetic is timely and transformative. What are we looking at ? Is is simply Art? Is it a tad ArtSci-Fartsy? Is it Outsider Art? Or is the viewing value in its science communication outreach ? Who decides? And how? Particularly in this century, SciArt has grown, popularized by the visual and connective appeal of online galleries and portfolios to fans. While it is true that science can rely more readily on visualizations thanks to the ease that computers turn pixels into pictures, the enthusiasm for a hybrid art form is evident in numerous social media devoted to image and commentary.

Given SciArt’s alleged start in Manhattan around 1966 when artists engaged with scientists in a project called ‘experiments in art and technology’ which spawned robotic art, digital art,media art and, more recently, data visualization art, we now have accessible art works that lean more on a scientific worldview. For example, the Canadian science communication blogging hub ‘Science Borealis’ defined SciArt as ‘any creative expression where the intent of the artist is to convey an understanding of the physical universe.’ If this art is then commandeered to communicate some science, does that function diminish the artistic value in any way or does this intent qualify as its singular aesthetic purpose? Is it art? I propose, in this lively project, through audio interviews to ask questions of this nature to artists and sci-artists, curators and critics.

The resulting short presentation (10 minutes) would be a visual tour with interspersed voice over on a series of relevant, curated art works. The audience would also be encouraged to play along as critics by spotting science minded art and through this exercise consider further defining a possible aesthetic for our consideration as science commmunicators and art appreciators.

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

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Time

Author: Kathryn O’Hara – Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication, Canada. Canada

Manuel Lino – Freelance science journalist, Mexico
Daniela Oviedo – Centre for Ethics in Science Journalism , Italy
Michelle Riedlinger – University of the Fraser Valley, Canada
Brian Trench – PCST,Science Communications, Ireland

This group discussion will consider the prospects for science journalism and science communication as the science communication sector continues to grow and the job market for science journalism falters, addressing a central issue in the future of science journalism and the possible consequences for science communication Those attending will join a discussion with panelists who have, in different ways and in different regions, lived through the overlapping and partly shared histories of science journalism (SJ) and science communication (SC). SJ as an internationally recognized specialism surfaced from the 1970s onwards, Science Communication has grown world-wide since the 1990s, also becoming a distinct arena of professional practice. Personnel and ideas have migrated between the two fields and recent challenges to science journalism, notably from structural changes in media industries, have contributed further to this movement between the sectors; for example, science journalists have increasingly taken up roles in scientific, education and cultural institutions, including in SC training and education. At the same time, separate structures of representation and networking have evolved and boundary definitions between SC and SJ have sometimes been contentious. Do science journalists moving from media organizations to writing and other client-based communication roles in institutions remain journalists? Are the boundaries between SJ and SC being implicitly redrawn or do they need to be explicitly redefined? The guiding questions for this discussion, however, will be focused on the future: How are relations between SJ and SC likely to develop? What new paths can be explored so that the two fields enjoy a peaceful co-existence? What are the obstacles to them being good neighbours? What bearing will scientifc integrity have on their professional practices?

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

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Comparing science communication across cultures

Author: Kathryn O’Hara – Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication, Canada

John Besley – Associate Prof, Michigan State University, USA

How do Canada’s taxpayer-funded scientists interpret public engagement? Does demonstrating science to assorted audiences as an outreach activity also include demonstrating for science when government policies are seen to be hostile to the research enterprise? Does an activity like 2017’s international March for Science attract or repel the normally non-activist natural science researcher. This survey set out to look at this and other issues in a ‘random’ questionnaire covering types of public engagement, and motivation to talk science with the public at large, with interest groups and policy makers. Of particular and timely interest us is how scientists perceive their role as advocates or activists for science if and when scientific evidence is discounted, derided or denied by publics or politicians.

This Qualtrix survey is the largest of its kind in Canada with questionnaires sent in the autumn of 2017 to all academics the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) reported having received a Discovery Grant between 2012 and 2017 (N = ~7,000). About n = ~1,130 completed the survey. Around 16%.

Questions probed past engagement behavior, future willingness to engage, views about engagement, and views about specific choices that scientists might make as part of engagement actvities.

This survey follows on Canada’s experience with ‘muzzling’ of federal scientists under previous governments, the current state of promised openness and transparency in matters of science as a public concern, the recent appointment of a Chief Scientist and the incentives for scientists to understand, define and embrace engagement activities across a wide spectrum. The results will be useful in understanding barriers to engagement, in funding wider dissemination of relevant research and for defining clearer objectives in the training of researchers in communicating their work and their rationale to media, publics and policy makers.

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

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices