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Communicating Science: Professional, Popular, Literary

Handbook / Manual

By: Nicholas J Russell

324 pages, no illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Oct 2009 | #182746 | ISBN-13: 9780521131728
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £28.99 $38/€32 approx
Hardback | Oct 2009 | #182745 | ISBN-13: 9780521113830
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £87.99 $115/€98 approx

About this book

In recent years governments and scientific establishments have been encouraging the development of professional and popular science communication. This book critically examines the origin of this drive to improve communication, and discusses why simply improving scientists' communication skills and understanding of their audiences may not be enough.

Written in an engaging style, and avoiding specialist jargon, this book provides an insight into science's place in society by looking at science communication in three contexts: the professional patterns of communication among scientists, popular communication to the public, and science in literature and drama. This three-part framework shows how historical and cultural factors operate in today's complex communication landscape, and should be actively considered when designing and evaluating science communication.

'... [an] interesting and important book.' Rachel Zelkowitz, Science News online 'This well-written and well-organised book, illustrated throughout with real examples, is based on the author's postgraduate science communication course at Imperial College London. ... the chapter entitled 'What every scientist should know about journalists' should be compulsory reading for scientists.' Chemistry World 'Nick's approach enables anyone to benefit from the book, regardless of whether or not they have experience of disseminating knowledge. ... there is no jargon or complicated terminology in the book.' Reporter, Imperial College London 'Russell's book is a well-written, five-part analysis of professional, popular, and literary approaches to scientific communication ... an interesting, well-written [book] from beginning to end ... leaves the reader excited about delving into scientific writing ... a great overview of the development of scientific literature and all of its implications, making it a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the publication of scientific results.' Jens Lichtenberg, '... well worth a second or even a third reading ...'


Introduction: what this book is about and why you might want to read it; Prologue: Three orphans share a common paternity: professional science communication, popular journalism, and literary fiction are not as separate as they seem; Part I. Professional Science Communication: 1. Spreading the word: the endless struggle to publish professional science; 2. Walk like an Egyptian: the alien feeling of professional science writing; 3. The future's bright? Professional science communication in the age of the internet; 4. Counting the horse's teeth: professional standards in science's barter economy; 5. Separating the wheat from the chaff: peer review on trial; Part II. Science for the Public: What Science Do People Need and How Might They Get It?: 6. The Public Understanding of Science (PUS) movement and its problems; 7. Public engagement with science and technology (PEST): fine principle, difficult practice; 8. Citizen scientists? Democratic input into science policy; 9. Teaching and learning science in schools: implications for popular science communication; Part III. Popular Science Communication: The Press and Broadcasting: 10. What every scientist should know about mass media; 11. What every scientist should know about journalists; 12. The influence of new media; 13. How the media represents science; 14. How should science journalists behave?; Part IV. The Origins of Science in Cultural Context: Five Historic Dramas: 15. A terrible storm in Wittenberg: natural knowledge through sorcery and evil; 16. A terrible storm in the Mediterranean: controlling nature with white magic and religion; 17. Thieving magpies: the subtle art of false projecting; 18. Foolish virtuosi: natural philosophy emerges as a distinct discipline but many cannot take it seriously; 19. Is scientific knowledge 'true' or should it just be 'truthfully' deployed?; Part V. Science in Literature: 20. Science and the Gothic: the three big nineteenth century monster stories; 21. Science fiction: serious literature of ideas or low-grade entertainment?; 22. Science in British literary fiction; 23. Science on stage: the politics and ethics of science in cultural and educational contexts.

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Nicholas Russell is Emeritus Reader in Science Communication in the Department of Humanities at Imperial College, London.

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