Science advocacy in Australia – A Twitter analysis of the March for Science

Science advocacy in Australia – A Twitter analysis of the March for Science

Author: Michelle Riedlinger – University of the Fraser Valley, Canada

Brenda Moon – Queensland University of Technology

Organisers of the global March for Science, held on 22 April 2017 claim to have brought together over 1 million scientists and non-scientists from over 600 countries to advocate for science. While nearly 10, 000 people took part in the Marches for Science in Australia, little research has looked outside of the scientific community to identify who in the general population was advocating for science, and what they were advocating for. We identified and analysed 28,134 Tweets from 7,822 different Australian Twitter accounts during April 2017 that contained one of the keywords “marchforscience” or “march4science”. These Tweets were extracted from the TrISMA infrastructure managed by Alex Bruns and colleagues, which tracks all public tweets by the approximately four million Australian Twitter users identified on an ongoing basis. The following initial findings will be expanded on in the presentation. The top ten Twitter accounts, contributing over 3,185 Tweets (11%) to the total Tweets in our sample, belonged to individuals who self-identified as researchers (science and social science), as advocates (science, the environment, health and gender equality) and with the public service. Through a linguistic analysis of moral imperatives (e.g. should, need to, and must) we found that participants were mostly calling on the wider Australian community to march for greater evidence-informed policy making and greater funding support for science. Scientists were called on to work more closely with politicians and society, engage dialogue on controversial issues, support greater diversity within the scientific community, and recognise the limitations of science. Many Tweets focussed on ontological concerns, or what politicians, science, scientists, and the Australian community should or need to “be”, and contrasted this to perceived current deficits. The implications for science and society research and for public engagement practitioners will be discussed.

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

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication