When: Tuesday 13th November, 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Where: Theatre, Level 2 down the stairs to the right of the registration/foyer area
The social media landscape presents new challenges for science communication that have not yet been fully understood. This Canadian government-funded project, conducted by researchers in partnership with ASC’s sister organizations in Canada (the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, SWCC, and the Association des communicateurs scientifiques du Québec, ACS), aimed to identify who is currently communicating about science in Canada and how they are doing it. Using emerging new media research tools (Altmetrics and Netlytics) and commonly-used hashtags (i.e. #scicomm; #commsci, and #sciart) we identified 256 dedicated social media science communicators (197 Twitter and 59 Instagram) located in Canada. We surveyed these social media communicators about their communication practices and compared their survey responses to survey responses gathered from association members (254 SWCC members and 309 ACS members). Findings show that, compared to association members, the social media communicators we identified through new media mapping were younger (26-36 years of age), paid less (or not at all) for their science communication activities, and had been communicating science for fewer years (2-5 years compared to 10 years or more). More members of the social media group had a science background (rather than communication, journalism or education background). Fewer of the social media communicators were members of related professional associations, however, more were members of informal science writing/communication networks. The social media communicators used a greater diversity of media tools to communicate when compared to association members. We will discuss how the findings from this research project are being used to inform professional member association policies, training and outreach activities to improve the quality of public engagement with science in Canada.
Dr Michelle Riedlinger, Associate Professor, University of Fraser Valley, Canada