940   Insight talk

Selfobservation and -reflection in Science Communication

Author: Simone Schumann
Open Science - Life Sciences in Dialogue, Austria

This talk discusses the qualitative research method of autoethnography as a valuable tool for science communication (research). Autoethnographies “are highly personalized accounts that draw upon the experience of the author/researcher for the purposes of extending sociological understanding” (Sparkes, 2000, p.21). They include selfobservation and –reflection and offer a way of giving voice to personal experiences in the research process. The author functions as research object often offering private and emotional details (see Ellis, 2004). Autoethnography challenges positivist thinking in scientific inquiries und thus also the role of the researcher as supplier of objective data through a strict separation of researcher and research object.

In science communication on the one hand a withdrawal of the communicator’s personal opinions, emotions, or experiences can be observed. On the other hand personal aspects seem to be communicated in a less reflected way. An autoethnographic mindset or procedure plays only a minor role in this field.

Based on these thoughts, we raise the following questions: How do our own values, opinions, and experiences influence our science communication activities? How to actively integrate the “communicator self” to design better science communication activities?

In this talk we strive to identify a conceptual link between autoethnography and science communication studies. We present examples from our work of how autoethnographic thinking and writing might be applied in different areas of science communication practice. This includes reflecting the pitfalls and challenges such an approach entails, such as the issue of exposing oneself or conflicts of interest with diverging opinions.

Co-author: Brigitte Gschmeidler
Open Science - Life Sciences in Dialogue , Austria

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