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Communicating Science
Professional, Popular, Literary


  • Date Published: October 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521113830

£ 88.00

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About the Authors
  • 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. Ideal for students and practitioners in science, engineering and medicine, this book provides a better understanding of the culture, sociology and mechanics of professional and popular communication.

    • Avoids specialist jargon where possible, so the book can be understood by non-specialists
    • Chapters are self-contained, so a particular interest can be addressed by reading a relatively brief chapter
    • Each chapter begins with a lively scenario designed to draw readers in by offering stimulating introductions to each topic
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… [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 …'

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521113830
    • length: 350 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    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.

  • Author

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

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