Science and journalism are among the key elements of a democratic society. They provide information to policy makers and society, enhance a populace’s education and knowledge and stimulate democratic discourse. But how does the exchange of ideas between science, journalism and society function? In a two-year project entitled „Zum Verhältnis zwischen Wissenschaft, Öffentlichkeit und Medien“ (The Relationship between Science, the Public and the Media), a panel of experts developed proposals “for shaping the process of information transfer between science, the public and the media”. In the project’s second phase the focus turned to the world of social media.
Social media and social networks are highly promising avenues for communicating scientific information. There the flexibility of switching between the roles of communicator, recipient or user is built into the system while at the same time public and private communication are combined and interwoven. Information disseminated by the mass media can now be passed on or changed and commented on.
The central concern of the project was to determine how the formulation and communication of scientific content is affected by the special attributes of social media. The possibilities of the new technologies (e.g. extending the range, broadening participation, interactivity) should thereby be more precisely assessed while also identifying and evaluating specific associated risks (e.g. lack of quality control, disinformation, mainstreaming or, also, fragmentation). Included in the mandate was an overview of the international state of research regarding this array of questions with a special emphasis on the communication of scientific subject matter.
The social media have quickly become the project’s main object of study. At the same time, however, the state of research concerning social media’s impact on scientific communication remains sketchy. Numerous science communicators and science bloggers that are active in social media are included in the discussion. The academic groups took this dynamic of their topic into account by employing a dialogue-oriented working method:
ML = Member of the Leopoldina
Final Presentation “Wie Social Media die Wissenschaftskommunikation verändern“ Berlin, 28 June 2017 (German)
Workshop "Bedeutung, Chancen und Risiken der sozialen Medien für die Wissenschaftskommunikation" Berlin, 18 March 2016 (German)
Scientific Topic "Science and Society"