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Science communication beliefs of researchers based in the Philippines and the United States: A qualitative analysis of research cultures and worldviews

By Inez Ponce de Leon

Abstract

How do researchers\u27 background cultures and worldviews influence their beliefs about science communication? To answer this question, 20 researchers from various research institutions in the Philippines and 20 researchers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA were interviewed regarding their culture as scientists, surrounding culture, and views on various aspects of science communication. Interviews and researcher field notes were analyzed using a combination of frameworks: a combination of the definitions of culture, worldview, and science communication; and a combination of Swidler\u27s culture-as-toolbox and Lam\u27s boundary setting frameworks. Data analysis revealed that researchers in both cultural milieus differed in descriptions of their worldviews and science cultures. Filipino researchers tended to adopt a joint positivist/post-positivist worldview, where they wanted the public to believe in the stability of scientific facts, but admitted that scientific findings could change. U.S.-based researchers, on the other hand, adopted a post-positivist worldview, where they acknowledged their limitations as researchers and that knowledge changed. All researchers believed in the dissemination model of science communication, where scientific knowledge is held in high regard, and where the lay public\u27s duty is to listen to scientists. Subscription to the dissemination model was consistent with the worldviews that the researchers espoused. However, Filipino scientists wanted to communicate scientific facts, while U.S.-based researchers wanted to communicate the nature of scientific research, as well. The researchers also provided opinions on their surrounding culture: Filipino researchers tended to believe that habits unique to the Filipino culture, such as lack of assertiveness, were impeding science progress and exacerbating the poor funding situation, while U.S.-based scientists believed that American culture encouraged creativity and critical thinking and allowed them to deal with funding pressures. All researchers were willing to communicate directly with the public using tools provided by scientific training, but they were less willing to work with the media. While both groups of researchers wanted social scientists to adopt tools of the bench sciences to validate social science research, only the Filipino researchers tended to believe that social scientists could help increase the social acceptability of scientific work. Findings from this research can be used to help advance theoretical modeling in the context of science communication, particularly as it relates to the role of scientists in this process. Findings can also help improve science communication by understanding how scientists define themselves as key players in the communication process alongside other actors such as journalists, the public and other scientists

Topics: Social research|Philosophy of Science|Communication
Publisher: 'Purdue University (bepress)'
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:docs.lib.purdue.edu:dissertations-11781
Provided by: Purdue E-Pubs
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