2016 Research Paper Competition Summary

By Sol Hart

2016 was another excellent year for the ComSHER research paper competition! We received more paper submissions (129) than any other division. That means that of the 1,564 submissions across all of AEJMC, 8% were submitted to ComSHER. ComSHER is now truly one of the largest research divisions at AEJMC – we had more research paper submissions than any other division in 2016, 2015, and 2013, and were tied for the most submissions in 2014. While we continue to receive a high volume of submissions, we have been able to maintain reasonable acceptance rates. In 2016 we accepted 65 of the 129 submissions, for an acceptance rate of 50.3%. 59 of the accepted papers were faculty submissions, and 6 were student only submissions.

1Looking to the topics of the accepted papers, Health Communication again accounted for a little over half of the ComSHER papers. The remaining papers were roughly evenly distributed between Science, Environmental, and Risk Communication.


2The paper competition is made possible by the generous contribution of all of our reviewers. 114 reviewers volunteered to review for the 2016 paper competition. This is an increase from the 107 reviewers we had in 2015, and ensured that all submitted papers received 3 reviews, and reviewers had an average of 3.8 reviews to complete. Thank you to all of our reviewers!

We look forward to another excellent paper competition in 2017!

Table 1
ComSHER Research Paper Submission Summary 2013-2016
Submitted Accepted Acceptance Rate
2013 148 69 46.6%
2014 134 85 63.4%
2015 139 80 58%
2016 129 65 50.4%


Table 2
Topic of ComSHER Papers, 2013-2016
2013 (n=69) 2014 (n=85) 2015 (n=80) 2016 (n=65)
Science 2 (3%) 11 (13%) 9 (11%) 10 (15%)
Health 41 (59%) 46 (54%) 45 (56%) 36 (55%)
Environment 7 (10%) 16 (19%) 17 (21%) 10 (15%)
Risk 16 (23%) 9 (11%) 2 (3%) 13 (20%)
Multiple 3 (4%) 3 (3%) 7 (9%) *

*for 2016 there were a few papers that had overlapping categories, but we included them in all of the respective categories to offer a better sense of the distribution of paper topic areas. Thus the paper totals for the 2016 topics (69) presents a higher cumulative amount than the total papers accepted (65) due to multiple coding for some of the papers.


ComSHER in the Windy City – Calling for ideas for our 2017 field trip

As incoming Secretary, I am excited to be coordinating the field trip for next year’s AEJMC meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The last time we were in Chicago, we had a wonderful time visiting the Shed Aquarium and I look forward to planning another excellent excursion. Current suggestions include visits to The Field Museum or The Adler Planetarium.

The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Its exhibitions include Sue, the most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, and the new, interactive Grainger Science Hub, which allows visitors to engage with the museum’s scientists and collections.

The Adler Planetarium offers a number of itineraries, including a visit to the Space Visualization Lab where we can interact with experts to learn more about ongoing projects and engagement efforts, and participation in Skywatch Live! which uses real-time digital graphics to create an accurate scientific simulation of the night sky. We can also explore the possibility of doing an evening excursion at the planetarium.

I encourage you to reach out to me with more suggestions at kajsa-dalrymple@uiowa.edu.

Kajsa Dalrymple

Upcoming PF&R Panels at AEJMC 2017

Panel #1: Communicating Science and Environmental Issues within the Context of Elections (co-sponsored with the Political Communication Interest Group)
This panel will explore the intersection of media and politics with an eye toward scientific and environmental issues facing society. How are issues at the interface of science and society communicated to publics in periods of heightened media attention? What does this mean for journalists working in these areas? How do political and science/environment topics overlap in mediated spaces and what are the implications of these connections? Panelist information TBA—stay tuned!

Panel #2: Global Inequities in Health—The Ethics of Forgotten Communities (possible co-sponsors: Media Ethics, Minorities and Communication, International Communication)
In March 2014, Ebola cases emerged in West Africa. In total, 11,315 people died from the epidemic. 11,309 deaths occurred in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria. And yet, American media covered little of the epidemic until September, focusing primarily on the four cases in the United States. Likewise, Zika was given very little attention until a case emerged in Florida. This ethnocentric news coverage in American is not unique, nor is it a contemporary phenomenon. The proposed panel showcases the health concerns of different groups have been ignored, marginalized, and delegitimized, reinforcing hegemonic notions of race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and other intersections. Through research on HIV in Tanzania, cultural barriers for the Roma people in Europe, eradication discourse of polio, and other studies, we will discuss the ethical implications for media’s role in these global inequities. Confirmed panelists: Katie Foss (Middle Tennessee State University), Adina Schneeweis (Oakland University), Ammina Kothari (Rochester Institute of Technology). Additional panelists TBA—stay tuned!

Sara Yeo

An Update from Science Communication

Science Communication: Linking Theory and Practice has been unofficially affiliated with AEJMC’s ComSHER Division and its predecessor, the Science Communication Interest Group, since the journal’s beginning in 1979. I am pleased to be able to report that the past year has been a really good one for us. As reported earlier in the summer, our two-year impact factor rose to 1.820 this past year, up 20% from 2014 and putting us in 14th place out of the 79 ranked communication journals. Our acceptance rate remained roughly steady at 18% for 2015, with the three prior years ranging between 15 and 17%. We received 150 manuscripts in 2015, 127 of which were research articles.

Almost all of these submissions received an initial decision within three months. We pride ourselves on providing timely, meaningful, and usually quite detailed feedback to our authors.

In hand at the moment: our October 2016 issue, which nicely illustrates the range of things we publish: An article on the strategies used by a Dutch food author to establish scientific credibility for his claims; an analysis of media coverage of the 2014 West Virginia Elk River chemical spill; an experiment comparing text-based and interactive presentations about NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope; and an article on how “green narratives” create affective responses that have implications for both environmental risk perception and policy. We also include two commentaries, one on informal science learning for older adults and one on “one scientist’s struggle” to become a better writer.

If you are not familiar with SC, you can learn more at scx.sagepub.com – and you can even order a free sample issue there, in case your university does not subscribe. You’ll spot a number of familiar ComSHER names both among our editorial board members and our authors, and you can browse the contents and abstracts for all of our issues there – even if your library does not subscribe.

In addition to refereed research articles, which fill about 80 to 90% of the space in our six annual issues, we also publish roughly one or two commentary articles per issue. These are non-refereed opinion pieces commenting on trends in the field, describing innovative and successful programs, or analyzing issues and opportunities in science communication theory and scholarship.

We publish in the full range of ComSHER disciplines, including submissions with qualitative, quantitative, or rhetorical methods – as well as, occasionally, analytical or historical ones.

Looking for something to write about for us? Although we do not normally publish review articles (other than occasional meta-analyses), the editorial board has recently expressed some interest in our considering reviews that present the history of our field. We are now much too large and diverse for a single article to cover this well; the few existing review articles that cover our entire broad history are now increasingly outdated. So there is room for more than one project here. If you are interested in creating such an article, identify the aspect of the field that you know best and discuss it with me directly at editorscicom@gmail.com. One thing I can practically guarantee: If your submission is successful, it will probably earn a lot of citations.

Following up on our successful special issue on Visual Communication in the Digital Age (Mary Nucci, guest editor), published in February 2015, we have issued a call for papers for a new special issue on Science Communication and Broad Societal Change. You can find the full call at the ComSHER website. Search “call for papers” to go directly to the appropriate section or use this link: http://aejmc.us/comsher/2016/06/15/cfp-science-communication-linking-theory-and-practice/

The submission deadline for the special issue is November 1, 2016. Late papers for the issue may be considered on a space-available basis; contact me at the email above for status.

Susanna Priest, Editor-in-Chief