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Assessing contemporary science
Assessing contemporary science

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Those persons who are believed to be – or who actually are – the hearers or readers of communication. Early conceptions of audience members perceived them to be passive receivers of information. More recently, audiences have been conceptualised in more sophisticated ways to acknowledge that, in certain circumstances, they may also choose to use, engage, personalise, contribute and participate in acts of science communication.
A meeting held within disciplines or across disciplines, characterised by researchers submitting their ideas to the conference planners. They, in turn, decide firstly whether the idea has merit, and secondly whether the proponent will present the ideas, either in the form of an oral presentation to an audience (often supported by presentational media), or at a poster session. Conferences are typically divided among plenary sessions in which everyone attends, and other sessions, seminars or workshops, several of which can be held simultaneously.
A branch of knowledge or teaching.
In this context, concerning scientific research, engagement encompasses the different ways that researchers meaningfully interact with various stakeholders over any or all stages of a research process, from issue formulation, the production or co-creation of new knowledge, to knowledge evaluation and dissemination (Holliman et al., 2015, p. 3).
A specialised periodical publication, often of scholarly work or research. Most professional journals in science use some form of peer review to judge whether publication of a given paper should proceed.
peer review
A process involving the review of proposed or completed research, usually in the form of articles submitted for publication to an academic journal, as a book for commercial publication, or a grant proposal for funding by an external institution. Peer review is conducted by persons of equal standing and expertise (i.e. ‘peers’) within a relevant academic domain. It is used to determine whether that research should be published, a grant should be awarded or a book should be commissioned. It is usually upheld as a neutral standard by which research is published based upon the merits of the work. Critics note that neutrality can be defeated by a number of factors, including the fact that the mediating editors know both who wrote the paper and who the reviewers will be (see Wager, 2009).
public sphere
‘By public sphere we mean first of all a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed’ (Habermas, 1989, p. 55). It is possible to argue that the introduction and growing influence of the internet / world wide web make networked communications one of the primary contemporary locations for communicating science in the public sphere.
research papers
Research papers traditionally contain these sections: introduction, method, results, discussion and conclusions, although the order may vary according to a given journal’s requirements.
scientific consensus
There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes a scientific consensus in practice and how it might be represented, either among scientists, or in the wider public sphere. In effect, scientific consensus is an elusive, yet apparently desirable, property. Typically, scientific consensus becomes manifest, often through collaboratively-authored documents, when it is challenged (Holliman, 2012). Speak to any academic research scientist and they are likely to value the ideal of scientific consensus. It can be hard fought for and form the bedrock of a scientific discipline.
A stakeholder could be a person (a citizen), group (prostate cancer patients) or organisation (a perfume company) that has an interest in an activity, issue or organisation. Stakeholders can affect or be affected by the activity, issue or organisation under consideration.