2016 ComSHER Article of the Year

by Sol Hart, Vice Head

I am happy to announce the ComSHER article of the year!

This is an award that ComSHER gives out every year to recognize the top article investigating how to communicate about science, health, the environment, and/or risk that was published in print during the previous year. An initial cut to the top 6 submissions is performed by ComSHER officers, and then a team of 5-7 experts of the field score these final articles for quality and likelihood for impact on the field. This year we received an excellent pool of submissions and the judging was incredibly close. Overall, the award is the top honor that ComSHER gives for excellence in published scholarship.

The winner of the ComSHER article of the year is:

Lee Ahern, Colleen Connolly-Ahern, & Jennifer Hoewe. (2016). Worldviews, issue knowledge, and the pollution of a local science information environment. Science Communication, 38(2), 228-250.

We also had a tie for second place. The two second place articles of the year are:

John C. Besley, Anthony D. Dudo, Shupei Yuan, & Niveen Abi Ghannam. (2016). Qualitative interviews with science communication trainers about communication objectives and goals. Science Communication, 38(3), 356-381.

Anthony Dudo & John C. Besley. (2016). Scientists’ prioritization of communication objectives for public engagement. PLoS ONE, 11(2), e0148867.

Congratulations to the winners!

Many thanks to all of the judges for reviewing submissions this year.

Make sure to read these articles; they represent the top work in our field!

Explore the stars with ComSHER: 2017 Field Trip to the Adler Planetarium

by Kajsa Dalrymple, Secretary

Join the ComSHER Division on its annual field trip (Thursday, August 10th, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.) to the Adler Planetarium. The Adler Planetarium is the first public planetarium in the western hemisphere and is located on Northerly Island next to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. Participants will be able to tour the planetarium and explore exhibits such as Chasing EclipsesAstronomy in Culture, and The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time. We will also attend a showing of Planet Nine in the Grainger Domed Sky Theater at 1:30pm.

Registration is required and the cost is $5.00. To register, please visit:  https://aejmc2.wufoo.com/forms/comsher-adler-planetarium-tour/

There are two options for getting to the Adler Planetarium. In both cases, bus and train fares will cost no more than $5.

  • If you choose to make your own way there, please meet the group in the Planetarium lobby at 12:30 p.m. The CTA Bus 146 Berwyn Red Line will take you directly from the hotel to the Planetarium.
  • If you would like to travel to the Museum with the group, we will meet in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel at 12 p.m.

For additional information, contact Kajsa Dalrymple at kajsa-dalrymple@uiowa.edu. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago, and hope you will join us on the field trip!

Science Communication: By the Numbers

by Susanna Priest, Editor-in-Chief

Camano Island, WA

Here is some good news, mostly numerical, about our journal. The acceptance rate records are now complete on 2016 submissions to Science Communication: Linking Theory and Practice (with the exception of one lone straggler undergoing revision that is expected to arrive by August). During 2016 we received 191 submissions overall (including commentary, editorial material, new book “roundups,” and other odds and ends that the manuscript system counts along with actual research submissions). Of these submissions, 160 were research articles intended for peer review. Of those 160, we have accepted 22 or 14% for publication.

Please take just a second to think about what a lot of reviews and decisions that entails, and please believe me what I say we are incredibly grateful to the ComSHER members, SC Editorial Board members, and other science communication specialists all over the globe who have participated in that process. This has allowed us to continue to provide timely feedback (almost always after three months or less from submission) to our submitting authors, without sacrificing the quality or depth of our reviewing process. For a closer look at what we actually publish (always recommended for anyone considering submitting to us, especially for the first time), visit us at scx.sagepub.com.

Just for historical context, in 2015 we received 150 overall submissions and accepted 23 (18%) of the 127 research submissions – yielding a very similar number of successful papers, interestingly enough. The acceptance percentages for each year from 2012-2016 varied, ranging from this year’s 14% up to 19%, and averaging 17% over the five years. A quick back-of-the-envelope moving average calculation reveals no obvious trend in those numbers, even though submission numbers themselves have varied quite a bit.

We use a “cohort” system for calculating acceptance rate. For submissions made during each calendar year, we wait until the entire cohort has been decided before considering our counts final. Some journals use decisions made during a calendar year instead. But looking at those numbers on a running basis, since relatively few papers get accepted after a single round of review, can be misleading. (Our acceptance data for the year don’t change as new items are decided, in other words.)

Our just-announced Social Science Citation Index/JCR impact factor for 2016 has nudged up just a bit from 1.820 to 1.856, scoring another gain consistent with the trend in each of the past five years. (In 2012, it was just 1. 436. Our new five-year impact factor is 2.138.)

Our new “Research Note” submission category has proved popular, with the first three accepted Notes scheduled to appear in our August issue. This category is designed to accommodate shorter empirical papers (quantitative or qualitative) and offers a slightly more efficient path to publication as we prioritize their processing whenever possible. They are peer reviewed but ordinarily with just one or two carefully chosen reviewers, in contrast to our normal three. They are ideal for getting intriguing empirical results that might inspire additional research into the literature efficiently. Theory is still needed but unexpected or not fully explained findings are welcome, and we expect most theory to be presented more succinctly than in a full paper.

Just like full research papers, Notes must have a theoretical foundation, however, and also have solid design and methods, be clearly about communication, and be about science (broadly defined to include technology, health science, environmental science, social science, and technology). Those last two – being about science and about communication – must seem fairly obvious for a journal titled Science Communication, but some of you would be surprised what we get on occasion! Please see my essay in the February 2017 issue for clarification on our submission categories, including length preferences, or feel free to write me directly at editorscicom@gmail.com. We consider papers about any form of communication, that is, mass or interpersonal or cross-cutural, strategic or journalistic, organizational or interdisciplinary, involving new media or older forms.

We do consider papers about public opinion formation, risk perception, and other directly related research topics, but we also expect those authors to offer some conclusions about what these mean to communication itself – either its process or its practice. And we are not limited to quantitative social science; we consider all empirical work, including case studies and both qualitative and rhetorical approaches. We do not normally consider purely theoretical papers, but we have occasionally published history and philosophy papers that are relevant to our work and rest on factual foundations as well as theoretical ones. We consider STS studies to be our close cousin.

Please keep an eye out for our upcoming special issue on “science online” later this year. See you all in Chicago in August!


Forget the Cubs’ win … ComSHER is back in town

by Anthony Dudo, Division Head

Chicago and the annual AEJMC conference go together like peanut butter and jelly. So how very fitting that we’ll be celebrating our organization’s 100th annual conference on the banks of Lake Michigan! What’s more, judging by the looks of this year’s phenomenal program, us ComSHER folks will be in a festive mood.

Our Teaching and PF&R chairs have engineered some truly engaging and timely panels that I hope you all will be able to attend. Our secretary has arranged what promises to be a magnificent field trip to Chicago’s famed Adler Planetarium. And, as has become the norm, our research program is poised to showcase research that is innovative and in line with this year’s conference theme: enhancing links between communication research and communication practice. Please mark your calendar now for our top paper session, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 11 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m.

Please also note that the ComSHER business meeting will be held immediately after the top paper session on Friday, Aug. 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  This meeting is when we will recognize our many award winners, including the Top Faculty Paper, Eason Prize for best student paper, Article of the Year, and Top Poster Award. Approval of the minutes from last year’s meeting will also be an order of business, so please review the them beforehand here: http://aejmc.us/comsher/comsher-documents/meeting-minutes/

For those of you who haven’t attended our business meeting yet, it’s the place to be if you want to have a voice in the future of our division. It also provides an exceptional opportunity for newer members to meet other “SHER” scholars who may share similar interests. And, to help bolster these networking opportunities, we will hold the always-popular ComSHER social immediately following the business meeting. Join us at 8:30 p.m. in the Rush Bar & Lounge in the Marriott Chicago Downtown.

For those interested in leadership, the process according to our bylaws is as follows. For elected leadership—Head, Vice Head, Vice Head-Elect, and Research Chair—nominations must be submitted to me (dudo@utexas.edu ) via email 48 hours before the business meeting. In order to qualify for any of the elected leadership positions, a member must have served as an officer at any level for a minimum of one year and reviewed papers for at least two years. The bylaws also make clear that a stable succession of leadership from Research Chair to Vice Head-Elect to Vice Head to Head is highly desirable. This succession order should only vary if someone is unable or unwilling to continue in the leadership progression.

For appointed positions in leadership—Professional Freedom and Responsibility Chair, Teaching Chair, Secretary, Newsletter Chair, Social Media Chair, Website Chair, Membership Chair, Grad Student Liaison—up to two people can be appointed to each of these positions to facilitate transitions to new chairs and involve more people in division activities. Graduate students may only serve in the capacity of Grad Student Liaison, Secretary, Newsletter Chair, Website Chair, and Social Media Chair. Although all division members are eligible and can indicate interest for these positions, preference will be given to members with a history of involvement with and service to the division, most importantly work in other appointed division positions, reviewing conference papers, panel organization/participation and attendance/involvement at division panels, events, and meetings.

Enjoy reading through the rest of our summer 2017 newsletter. This marks my last newsletter post as the head of ComSHER. I was first introduced to our division in 2005, when it was still an “interest group” with a different name. My how we have grown. I’ve been a part of the ComSHER leadership team for the last seven years and it’s been wonderful watching our membership and accomplishments expand so rapidly. We continue to exhibit some of the top metrics among AEJMC divisions, while balancing that productivity with our trademark friendly vibe. I look forward to seeing you all in August. And I look forward to our division’s future in the hands of its exceptional leaders and members.

Another Banner Year for ComSHER Submissions

by Rachel Young, Research Chair

This year ComSHER received 124 research paper submissions, on par with the 129 received in 2016. By adding an additional paper session and poster session, we were able to accept 70 papers. We had a particularly strong year for student submissions, with 34 student-only papers, 17 of which were accepted.

Many thanks to the 104 reviewers who read and ranked the submissions. Each paper received three reviews, with the highest scores winning top paper honors. ComSHER Chair Anthony Dudo will moderate the top paper panel from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. on Friday. This year, our top papers span the domains of health, environment, and risk:

First Place Faculty Paper
Risk as Anxiety in Mental Illness: Negative Emotions, Coping Responses, and Campaign Engagement Intention
Jiyoung Lee and Hua Jiang, Syracuse

Second Place Faculty Paper
Exploring the Effects of Character and Cued Typicality in Health Narratives
Jiangxue (Ashley) Han and Shanshan Lou, Appalachian State University

Third Place Faculty Paper
Promoting Multivitamins to College Women: An Examination of Source, Message, and Audience Characteristics
Jennifer Ball, Temple University, Allison Lazard, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Michael Mackert, University of Texas

Fourth Place Faculty Paper
Communicating the Flood: The Role of Communication During Extreme Weather Events in Shaping Climate Change Engagement
Ashley Anderson, Colorado State University

Eason Prize Winner/Top Student Paper
Do Narratives Attenuate Message Resistance? A Meta-Analysis
Chelsea Ratcliff, University of Utah

Twenty more papers will be presented in paper sessions on risk communication during outbreaks and health misinformation online (Wednesday), climate communication (Thursday), and health campaigns (Saturday). Forty-five papers will be presented as posters at scholar-to-scholar sessions at 5 pm on Thursday and 12:15 p.m. on Friday. We’re looking forward to lots of great discussions in Chicago. Thanks again to the reviewers who make this massive undertaking possible!

ComSHER Teaching Panels at AEJMC 2017

Teaching Controversy in the Classroom: Best Practices for Engaging Students about Politically Contentious Science, Environmental, Health, and Risk Issues
Wednesday, August 9, 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and Political Communication Interest Group

Bringing together junior and senior scholars with expertise in political and/or science/health/environmental/risk (SHER) communication, panel participants will discuss their best practices for teaching graduate and undergraduate students about the intersection of political and SHER communication. In particular, how can we effectively discuss motivated reasoning, political polarization, and other concepts in the classroom with the next generation of SHER/political communication scholars? The panel discussion will touch on must-have course readings, must-cover theoretical frameworks and topics, and must-do class assignments and activities.

Katie Abrams
Department of Journalism and Media Communication
Colorado State University

Zeynep Altinay
Department of Mass Communication
Iona College

Ashley Anderson
Department of Journalism and Media Communication
Colorado State University

Amy Bree Becker
Department of Communication
Loyola University Maryland

Sharon Dunwoody
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Public Relations, Public Health, Public Good: Preparing a New Generation of Nonprofit and Public Sector Communications Professionals
Wednesday, August 9, 8:15 – 9:45 a.m.

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and Public Relations Division

This panel will demonstrate varying approaches to prepare students for work in nonprofit public relations with a special focus on health, science, and the environment. Panelists will share their experiences with classroom innovation in this area, including examples of effective activities and case study suggestions that will help prepare students for the unique challenges within a non-profit career path.

Brooke McKeever
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
University of South Carolina

Geah Pressgrove
Reed College of Media
West Virginia University

Katherine Rowan
Department of Communication
George Mason University

Autumn Shafer
School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon

Christopher Wilson
School of Communications
Brigham Young University

ComSHER PF&R panels at AEJMC 2017

Communicating Science and Environmental Issues within the Context of Elections
Friday, Aug 11, 2017, 3:30 – 5:00 pm

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and 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?

Dietram A. Scheufele (confirmed)
John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication,
Department of Life Sciences Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dhavan Shah (confirmed)
Maier-Bascom Professor
School of Journalism & Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Arthur Lupia (invited)
Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Shannon Heffernan (confirmed)

Moderator: Sara K. Yeo, University of Utah (ComSHER)

Global Inequities in Health: The Ethics of Forgotten Communities
Friday, Aug 11, 2017, 1:45 – 3:15 pm

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and 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.

Katie Foss (confirmed)
Assistant Professor
School of Journalism
Middle Tennessee State University

Adina Schneeweis (confirmed)
Associate Professor
Department of Communication and Journalism
Oakland University

Ammina Kothari (confirmed)
Assistant Professor
School of Communication
Rochester Institute of Technology

Janet Kwami (confirmed)
Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies
Furman University

Moderator: Irene Awino, University of Oregon

AEJMC ComSHER Article of the Year Award 2017

Declaration form for Nominees

The ComSHER Article of the Year is an annual award given to the year’s best science, health, environment and/or risk article by an AEJMC member to encourage better quality of scholarship in the field and within the association. Any AEJMC member may nominate a journal article by an AEJMC member for consideration for the award. Self nominations are allowed. For multiple-author publications, only one author needs to be an AEJMC member.

To nominate an article, you agree that:

  • You are an AEJMC member in 2017
  • The nominated article(s) is a ComSHER focused English-language article from a peer-reviewed journal
  • The nominated article’s author was an AEJMC member in 2016
  • For articles published in print journals, article(s) nominated are not pre-prints available online but are published in print in 2016
  • For online-only journal articles, they first appeared online in 2016
  • Only one first-author journal article per member is considered
  • In the event that a scholar is a non-first author on more than two articles nominated, that scholar has to select a maximum of two papers that will receive consideration

Up to six articles will be selected by the ComSHER leadership for full consideration by an Award Review Panel consisting of past ComSHER heads, peer-reviewed journal editors or associate editors, and/or full professors. The quality and originality of the research, as well as the expected impact of the work to scholarship in the areas of science, health, environment and risk communication will constitute the evaluation criteria.

The winner(s) will be presented with a certificate recognizing their accomplishment during the ComSHER business meeting at the AEJMC Annual Convention. Winners can indicate on their curriculum vitae and elsewhere that they received the AEJMC ComSHER Article of the Year Award, and their names will also be highlighted on the ComSHER website.

To nominate an article, send an email to ComSHER Vice Head Sol Hart (solhart@gmail.com) listing a citation for the nominated article and confirming that you have read the above requirements and that all are fulfilled. Attaching the article to the email is greatly appreciated as well. The deadline for nominations is 15 May 2017.