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SCIENCE BLOGGING: SCIENCE JOURNALISTS OF THE INTERNET BY ALLISON M. SMITH A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Natural Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Sandra Gilchrist Sarasota, Florida May 2013
ii Abstract With traditional science journalism being faded out from newspapers due to economic impacts, science blogging has become a new means for readers to access to easy to read science news translated from jargon filled scholarly articles. Science bloggers can make a profession out of what they do, providing an alternative to science news written by people without any science background. The aim of this study was to determine how readers interact with blogs, what they find important about them, and what their g eneral demographics were. Through the use of an IRB approved survey, I gathered these data. I found that science blog readers are generally interested in science, are familiar with computers, prefer using computers as opposed to magazines and newspapers, and are generally in the 18 30 range. ____________________________________ Dr. Sandra Gilchrist, Thesis Sponsor
iii Preface My interest in science blogging stems from multiple foundations. My interest in being a science journalist comes from my backgrou nd in biology, and using my writing skills. The importance of conveying scientific information to the general public is necessary in this era where great strides are being made in various scientific fields. While science is taught in schools, it is an ev er changing area and far from stagnant. Science is not limited to textbooks. I grew up immersing myself in science outside of the classroom, reading such magazines as National Geographic and Scientific American as well as regularly visiting the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, my birthplace. I often found that I was one of the few children my age who had this interest. Being updated on scientific topics is relevant, especially in the field of environmental science. Global warming an d sea level rise are prime concerns in this day and age. Because scientists are not always best at providing information that the general public can understand, science Unfortunately, science journalism in its traditional form is a dying profession. Cutbacks in news media ha ve greatly impacted this area, leaving science journalists jobless and leaving science coverage to people who have no background in science. This ca n result in everything from
iv incorrect information, lack of covering the basic fundamentals of science news, and sensationalizing what is otherwise preliminary research. computers, and notably the In ternet. The Internet is also an ever expanding frontier with many uses. One notable use is its ability to transmit information almost instantaneously, into the homes of Internet users. This has led to the developm ent of blogs. These webpages are also far from stagnant, being frequently updated, and allowing for extensive reader interaction through a user friendly interface. Through the click of a button, users can instantly follow blogs, receive updates on these blogs, easily find sources and extraneous information through the blog, search through archived information, and be able to comment and ask questions on each post or through messaging a moderator of a blog. This allows for clarity of information, correcti ons of posted data, and recommendations for other sources to examine. Needless to say, the potential for blogs as a new means of achieving the goals of science journalism are highly recognized. While traditional science journalism is a dying breed, scienc e blogging is gradually replacing it. Many news sources have science blogs that are moderated by professional science bloggers, with backgrounds in science. Magazines such as Nature and Scientific American also have blogs. The importance of a comments s ection and notifications of updates on them easily clarifies
v information for readers who may or may not have the science background to understand direct scholarly articles. With an interest in science blogging as a potential profession for myself, I wanted to understand how science blog readers use and connect to science blogs, and why they read them. I also wanted to understand what their general backgrounds were so I can have a baseline of what the interface audience is. First and foremost, I would like to thank my thesis adviser for guiding me through all of this and being a rock in my life, my mother for the long and soothing conversations that got me through the day, my father for supporting me in other areas of my life so that I could focus on academics, my sister Natalie for her theater performances that helped me realize how much else there is in the world, my sister Madeline for all of the adventures she took me on in the city, my sister Jasmine for all of the laughs my sister Rachel for letting me complain to her about pretty much anything, my sister Courtney for being a responsible figure in my life, my nieces and nephew Anya, Kylie, and Cadyn for bringing so much joy and pride into my life, my grandmother for show ing how brave a person can be, Kimberly Nolting at the NCF library who helped me through my thesis, New College of Florida for being a unique and nurturing place that fundamentally changed who I am for the better, the IRB for allowing my the privilege of c reating and using my thesis survey, and lastly, my wonderful dog Lotus who rescued me as much as I rescued her.
Table of Contents Abst .. ii Preface iii List of Figures and Tables vii Introduction 8 Methods .. 20 Results 21 Discussion 2 6 Conclusion 2 8 References 31 Appendices 3 6
vii List of Figures and Tables Figure 1 1 3 Figure 2 Example of Personal ... 1 4 Table 1 Survey 2 1
8 Introduction The importance of media as a means for public information only recently became a cornerstone of societies, coinciding with increased literacy (Eisenstein, 1980). As media changes or, one can say, evolves so does its information: how it is obtained, how it is verified, and how it is communicated. To understand the context of science blogging it is important to understand the history leading up to science blogging. The evolution of science news in media has occurred parallel to the evolution of public understanding of science. This is based on fou r aspects of an 2009). The first is at least basic textbook understanding of scientific fundamentals and facts. Of course, this is largely dependent on what scientific facts are known at any given time, since science is inherently transient as new data are found. The next characteristic is the understanding of scientific methods. The third element is acceptance of science as a catalyst for positive outcomes. The last is at least skepticism if not rejection of superstition. Since 1990, major news sources have suffered economic difficulties. This has impacted science journalism in particular (Brumfiel, 2009). The first to go in downsizing traditional newspapers are sci ence writers (Rensberger, 2009). Science news is in turn shortened into over simplified paragraphs covered by reporters who lack the science background to fully understand what they report, thus affecting how readers are educated on science topics (Van Ep eren et al.,
9 2010). News sources are also quick to report anything fantastical, such as preliminary findings that indicate any dramatic revelation ignoring or being unaware of the fact that preliminary findings must be tested and verified before conclus ions can be reached. Many scientific studies and articles are far too complex and nuanced to be simplified and for conclusions to be reached (Chatterjee & Biswas, 2011). the various facets of a topic (both negative and positive) are difficult to convey. not accept Cr eationism as an explanation for the diversity of life forms (Wolinsky, 2011). Creationist standpoints are not even considered as topics to debate or discuss in relation to an article on, say, the evolutionary history of a specific species. Because the c otherwise irrelevant standpoints are introduced which succeed in conveying doubt to readers. If a standpoint that is otherwise n ever considered in scientific circles is introduced, at least some readers will consider that standpoint and fail to analyze the real implications of a science news topic. The advent of the Internet has had one of the greatest impacts on humanity, on par with the invention of the printing press. Information spreads
10 almost instantaneously, literally putting the world at any computer finger tips (Walejko & Ksiazek, 2010). With this new development, traditional journalism has continuously been sitt ing on the fence between technological adaptation and traditional news. Many newspapers can now be read on the internet. The first appearance of the Internet in news rooms had its many drawbacks. First, hackers could potentially skew how news is perceiv ed (Brown, 2012). One example is well known among Internet news sources. At the University of East Anglia, hackers revealed emails and documents from private servers that cast climate scientists in a negative light. Scientists had ignored requests for i nformation, doubted data from other scientists, and openly expressed disdain for climate change deniers (Yearley, 2012). Conservative news sites jumped on this scandal, as did other news sources like CNN. The decline of traditional journalism and the dev elopment of open online and social media increasingly limited investigative news (Bird, 2009). At this point in the beginning of cyber use in news media, information could be spread quickly but drastically lacked explanatory components needed for informat ive journalism. With shrinking scientific awareness in news rooms as a result of downsized staff, accurate news portrayal on science suffered. Omitting traditional science journalists from the staff meant that journalists without any science background w ere trusted with reporting. Twenty years ago, 150 newspapers had a science section in their printed forms. Now, less than 20 do. Interestingly,
11 newspapers are often measured by their science news coverage, despite its shrinking focus (Brown, 2012). Ano ther issue that plagued news media and, at first, influenced news blogs, was the tendency to commercialize news (Vujnovic et al 2010). While democratized media allows for greater participation of reader viewership, this combination with unorganized cap italistic approaches often hindered its affect. Failure to capitalize on how ubiquitous Internet technology can be, these news sources still stuck with the traditional economic model. As the use of the Internet progressed within journalism, so did its r eliability though that, too, is still developing and has a way to go (Wolinsky, 2011). The potential of the Internet to create open and transparent news was realized. Social media allows for smooth transmission of information, and through time it has been streamlined and its content evaluated, elevating certain blogs based on accuracy, user friendliness, and respect by scientists themselves. During the past decade, weblogs have come into increasing use. The basic definition of a blog is as follows: individual or non commercial origin that uses a date limited or diary format, and which is updated either daily or at least regularly with new information about a subject, r (Bradley, 2004) The information can either be gathered from other sources, contributed by others, or written directly by the author of the blog. The information is sequential
12 and often continuously adds more informa tion to a specific topic ( Bull et al., 2003). then uncharted territory of the internet (Martindale et al). Jorn Barger is considered a foremost pioneer of weblogging, and coined th (Williams et al., 2004). The use of simple syndication through RSS (Really Simple Syndication), a format commonly used for frequently updated series of entries on the web (Barger, 1999), is of utmost importance. Content from blogs that re aders follow are periodically sent to readers via RSS readers gather and display feeds (Fig. 1). o a browser through the use of an aggregation service, which processes information from aggregators and directly feeds it into a source such as email or an icon on a browser. Aggregators are important because it compiles information into one easy to acces s format. This information is compiled from numerous sources, allowing users to follow multiple blogs at once. Aggregators act as pathways between media, and fed through an aggregation service.
13 Figure 1: The ecosystem connecting blogs, search engines, and aggregation services through RSS. www.ibm.com With the rise of blogs came a new means of transmitting information. interactive, and for readers to be able to comment or ask questions regarding information posted on these blogs in a comments section. These comments and questions can help shape a blog post (and blogs in general) because errors can be pointed out and then fixed by the moderator. Related material can also be found same umbrella by clicking on them. Related information can also be found by hyperlinking, which imbeds a link within the text, or is otherwise displayed on a blog p ost (Fig. 2). Readers can click on that text or link and it takes them to other information sources.
14 Figure 2 : This is a screenshot of one of my own blogs, complete with header a (underneath post), hyperlinking (underlined text in entry), and a comments section (lower right on post). http://alliethea lliegator.tumblr.com/ An estimated 39% of Americans read any of 112 million blogs on the internet (Batts et al., 2008). Its potential to become a bridge between academia and news increased over time. Because many science bloggers are practicing scientists or experts in their field, they can provide a unique educational bridge between academia and the public and distill important experimental findings into an accessible, interactive format. Yet academic institutions have been slow to appreciate blogs as valuable mediums for facilitating scholarly discussion, illustrated by the lack of institutional blogs or blogs by established academics. It is true that few quality control or vetting mechanisms exist to help readers evaluate a blog, which typically earns its reputation based on the blogger's credentials and reader feedback. Yet both academic institutions and blogs aim to engage and educate the public and advance scientific knowledge and discussion. By co mbining the credibility of institutions trusted gate keepers for scientific truth with the immediacy and networking infrastructure of blogs, we believe that Batts et al., 2008.
15 The ne helped encourage fusion between institutions and media passageways. However, the issues that academics face is whether science blogs can be respected as established science news sources. W hile statistics and demographics focusing on science blogging have yet to be gathered the numerous and ever increasing number of science blogs show that science news via blogs carves itself a small but respectable niche on the internet (Lenhart, 2006) Eva luation of quality of a science blog is difficult for academics to determine because blog ratings are based on how often they are hyperlinked (linking to other blogs on a blog) by others. The blog is also controlled by a select group of people who can, po tentially, miscommunicate information. Currently, academic institutions are working on establishing proper peer review for science blogs, controlled by a select group of individuals who are both science and blog savvy (Kouper, 2010). This way, informati on can be properly evaluated and edited before reaching the public. Scientists are also able to read blogs and comment to the writer on false information, providing the potential for feedback to further edit information. Since blogs are decentralized, th e need for bridging gaps between academia and news must be built from the bottom up via hyperlinking (linking to other blogs on a blog) between academic institutions and science blogs (Batts et al., 2008). In particular, medical blogs are one of the fastes t growing science blogs, with a survey claiming that 89% of medical companies considering them important (Lagu et al., 2008). Debates on blogs between medical professionals
16 have even been published in newspapers such as the New York Times (Kovic et al, 20 08). Medicine has had a large impact on the Internet. The United and is specifically geared towards medical students ( www.thestuden troom.co.uk ). Medical blogs are either patient centered, provider centered, or geared towards a relationship between patients and providers (Hillan, 2003). Medical blogs have been surveyed before to establish demographical statistics. A survey of 197 English speaking medical blogs revealed that 75% of and 49, and 67% worked in the medical field (Kovic et al ., date ). Most of these bloggers were also experienced in the blogosphere. Personal blogs are also seen as a potential way for mental care unavailable (Wapner, 2008). Because p sychiatric assessment is based on information given at one interview especially if the patient is loath to reveal anything. Patients who maintain personal blogs tend to f eel more open about disclosing their issues and patients in psychosis who are apt to withdraw from the world can connect from their computers (Wuyts et al 2011). Of course, this raises many ethical issues.
17 One issue of contention in medical blogging i s whether medical bloggers patients, health care providers, doctors should remain anonymous (Packard, 2011). Because the Internet is a space that allows for virtual anonymity, many people who post on medical blogs use pseudonyms to cover up any appare nt lack of knowledge and hope to avoid scrutiny. It is at least important for doctors with otherwise are afraid their privacy will be compromised (Vartabedian et al 2011). There is a legitimate reason to be afraid of privacy issues on the part of patients because identifying markers can be made known, causing other users or other doctors to find out who they are, which can in turn be traced back to the doctor and his or her employ ment, which of course violates patient privacy rights (Kennedy, 2008). To address this issue, the Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics was created ( Mesk, 2008). The first statement is that medical bloggers must make it perfectly clear what the standards are readers specific guidelines regarding the nature of that blog that can be shown to relevant individuals, such as employers and patients. While the blog that specifically deals with the code is under const ruction as of this date ( www.medbloggercode.com ), it at least has paved the way for more direct communication between medical bloggers and readers. There are five major points in the code are described in www.thesocialmedic.com :
18 While we usually argue that this type of classification is usually whether you are an EMT Basic, EMT Intermediate, EMT Paramedic, Registered Nurse, or Medical Doctor for your readers who do understand the differences to know your professional perspective. Confidentiality: Bloggers must understand and maintain the importance of confidentiality when blogging about patients. All blogging about patients must be done so that their identity cannot be inferred. Disclosure: Bloggers must disclose any commercial ties that may exist between a company and themselves. Reliabi lity: It is important to cite sources of information accurately and correctly. Additionally, it is important to correct inaccuracies where they It is important during this computer age for medical providers to use the Inte rnet, and particularly blogs. Patients who know which physicians blog can assume that the blogger understands their need for information and consider that need of value, and will therefore place more trust in them (Kennedy, 2008). Of course, this does no t include online blog diaries from doctors who may choose to post opinions rather than engage with patients. While demographic information has been gathered for medical blogs, it is a specialized type of science blogging. Other science blogging topics may attract readers of different backgrounds, with a variety of interests. Science blogs come in various forms, including popular science, those produced by scientific terms. What is unique about science blogging in general is that it incorporates various multimedia such as text, audio, photography, and video (Colombo &
19 Colombo, 2007). While each form of past media played important roles in the development of public education (phot ojournalism, radio, television, published periodicals), blogs are unique in their capacity to touch on all facets of this. To add to this, blogs are easily accessible to anyone with a computer and internet, in much the same way radio and televised media wa s easily accessible to anyone with a radio or television. An issue that is profoundly important in news reporting and science news reporting is the topic of bias, and how to measure it. If news has any sort of opinion in it, then of course that is bia s. It becomes trickier when news writers and science writers write in such a way that evokes some sort of opinion in readers, i.e. writing an article on current environmental issues and focusing on global warming specifically to give the idea that thi s issue is more important than the others. In the end, it would be inherently biased to state whether or not news media can ever be unbiased because it comes down to consumer perspective (Morris, 2007). While bias can be quantitatively defined in the hard sciences through statistical processing, the concept of bias in a more general term is far different from this and ventures from being definable into the realm of philosophy. In the end, science blogs can at least be valued for the pure quantitative fact s they provide, if not the informed conclusions they produce. Science blogs are becoming a new way to increase science literacy, however flawed they might be. In this thesis I examined just why and how readers engage with or read these science blogs.
20 M ethods While there are numerous statistics on people who read blogs, there is very little on those who specifically read science blogs. My aim is to determine what the demographics are of adults who read science blogs, how they compare with other blog st atistics, and whether the data I gathered corresponds with current science blogging trends. To achieve this goal, I created a simple survey for science bloggers and readers to answer and posted it on highly rated science blogs as well as Nature and Scienti fic American including various blogs on tumblr. The rating criteri on for selection of blogs was based on how many followers a blog had and how often it was hyperlinked to other blogs. I wrote questions specifically regarding the habits of science blog rea ders, what they do for a living, what their ages were, and why they read science blogs as opposed to science articles in newspapers. I wanted to avoid asking leading questions and loaded questions to avoid bias. Checklist surveys (that allow for multip le answers) tend to receive more answers because they are easier to fill out ( http://www.mad.state.mn.us/survey guide ). I wanted these questions to give as other multiple response questions. Having this last option also helps me further evaluate how people interact with science blogs because I can read answers on an individual basis. While this took longer to evaluate, allowing a nswers to be unique helped give me more personal insight into science blog readers without specify their age because this can be a sensitive topic for some people, but in
21 hindsigh t I could have asked for more specifications. Furthermore, my age question was created in a way that provided mutually exclusive answers, i.e. 18 20, 21 30, 31 40 as opposed to 18 20, 20 30, 30 40. In the end, I wanted to keep my survey short and to the p oint so I could keep my audience answering. This survey was reviewed by the proper IRB representatives (see Appendix 1 ) as well as my thesis adviser. The survey was active between March 26, 2013 and April 1, 2013. I received 634 responses. The responses were run through SAS to calculate the percentages for each set of answers, including unanswered questions. The questions and their analysis codes are listed in Appendix 2 and 3. The data are listed in Appendix 5 Results Because Q1 and Q2 merely asked f or certification of answerers being 18 or over, I did not calculate this question. Questions 10 and 11 were open answer questions. Table 1 Survey Questions 3 14, Answer Options, and Percentages of Age Brackets 18 30 31 40` 41 50 51 60 61 70 3. What age bracket are you in? 82.9 8% 8.1 2% 3.09 % 4.84 % 0.9 7% Percentage of Participant Answers
22 Answer options 4. What do you do for a living? a. Food service (waiter, chef, host, caterer) 1.99% b. Academia (teacher, TA, staff) 7.51% c. Student (high school, college) 61.59% d. Mechanics/Maintenance (cars, home appliances, plumbing) 1.32% e. Social sciences (cultural anthropology, psychology, political science) 3.09% f. Hard sciences (biology, chemistry, mathematics) 14.79% g. Arts (theater, sculpture, music, paintings) 8.39% h. Construction (planning, carpentry, house painting) 1.32% i. Other A Yes B No 5. Did you grow up using computers? 84.45% 15.55 % 6. If you DID grow up using computers, did you have one at home or strictly at school, internet cafes, libraries, etc? 82..96 % 8.11% *8.92% did not answer question 7. Do you generally read blogs? 83.56% 16.44 % Answer Options Percentage of Participant Answers 8. If you answer ed a. Food (cooking, baking, dietary restrictions) 4.21% b. Aesthetics (fashion, 0.7%
23 to the previo us questio n, which type(s) of blogs do you general ly read? makeup, skin care) c. Electronics (video games, computers, iPods) 5.37% d. Health (weight loss, exercise, vegan/vegetarian, mental health) 6.07% e. Arts (theater, sculpture, painting, music) 29.21% f. Media (celebrities, television, political news) 45.33% g. blogs 9.11% h. Other A Yes B No 9. Do you prefer to read science news online? 91.83% 8.17% previous question, why do you prefer to use the Internet? Written Answers methods do you prefer? Written Answers Answer Options Percentage Participant Answers
24 12. Why do you generall y read this particul ar blog? Please click all that apply a. Research for school 65.28% b. Research for employment 34.72% c. my main interests and hobbies) d. Personal enjoyment (It is relevant to my main interests and hobbies.) e. Other A Yes B No 13. Do you enjoy reading blogs? 96.5% 3.5% Answer Options Percentage Participant Answers 14. If yes, for what reason( s)? Click all that apply. a. I can comment and ask questions and receive quicker feedback 5.41% b. Less of a hassle and mess than dealing with paper 22.72% c. I like the moderators (good writing skills, intelligent perspectives, sense of humor, good advice) 71.86% d. Other The results indicate that the majority of science blog readers for those blogs selected tend to be in the 18 30 range (82.98%), the majority of science blog readers (61.59%) are students in high school, college, or grad school, with
25 the next highest bracke t of readers is in the hard sciences in general (14.79%), and the third highest bracket of readers is in academia (7.51%), 84.45% of readers grew up using computers, whether at home or somewhere else, 91.83% of responders prefer to read science news online as opposed to paper and other traditional media forms, and the highest rated reason they read science blogs is because they like the moderators (the next highest rated reason is that it is less of a hassle and mess than using paper. The third highest rate d reason is that they can get feedback from blog moderators). Some of the written replies from the survey regarding these points are as follows: 1. Aside from saving trees, I feel like I get more up to date information faster. As soon as it's approved for pub lishing I can reach it, rather than waiting for the next print publication date and delivery. 2. It's the most current, also the most convenient. 3. Readers' comments; more colloquial language; easier to access; more recent 4. It can be updated and accessed easily. I don't want to read outdated information and I can cross reference easily. 5. It's how I get science news most quickly and easily, and easier to keep track of. 6. Because it allows me to go into a potentially limitless depth of understanding within the topic b y linking to references, googling new concepts, etc., and has a good potential to lead to more interesting articles.
26 7. Most of the time it's straight to the point. Blogs make it easier to decide what posts interest me. Blogs also tend to be more personal. It allows me as a reader to get more connected to the writer(s). 8. it's cheap and I don't have to leave the house 9. Generally free information. Journals can be hard to get and/or expensive. 10. Faster, it takes some time to newspapers catch the new information. P lus, most "little discoveries" remain unpublished. 11. Firstly, the internet gives a wide variety of topics. And while reading online, if further questions arise, the web will lead to answers to your questions. Secondly, it is easier to share and pass on the i nformation to others who may or may not be able to find it themselves. Discussion The results coincide with findings indicating that bloggers and blog readers tend to be younger (Schler et al., 2006). More than 80% of readers of science blogs, according to these data, were in the 18 30 range. However, this could be different for medical blogs since that attracts a specific group of people interested in medicine rather than science in g eneral A separate survey listed the majority of medical bloggers in the 30 49 age range (Kovic et al,, 2008). These results also indicate that readers of science blogs surveyed are in academia whether it is as an employee or as a student. Science blogs a re seen by readers as a useful tool for education (Kouper, 2010). The science blogs I chose seemed to attract this specific group of people.
27 A majority of science blog readers who responded to my survey can also accustomed to computers in their lives, which is specific to younger people. In an era where computers are increasingly being used and where n ews can be sent through the internet in a matter of seconds, the use of online science information is becoming more relevant. The use of science blogging as a means of news sources is also relevant because of its paperless nature. Because environmental is sues are at the forefront of news today, readers are looking towards new ways of decreasing their paper use. The money and hassle saved from going out and buying a newspaper were also valued by respondents. The importance of blog moderators also cannot be overlooked. Moderators play important roles in blogging, such as accurately interpreting science news to those who are less familiar with scientific jargon. Moderators also provide direct feedback to people who have questions, comments, or errors to poi nt out. The ability of a science blog moderator to be true to science and to also be able to communicate it to the general public is of utmost importance. Science blogs are becoming increasingly popular. Academic institutions are increasingly taking scie nce blogs seriously, with many scientists capitalizing on them and creating their own blogs. Science blogging is a specialty and science bloggers often have science backgrounds, and it is also growing as a profession
28 (Kovic et al, 2008). While traditiona l science journalism is shrinking, science blogging as an alternative is growing. Conclusion More research is needed to fully understand how, why, and what people read regarding science journalism, especially in relation to blogs. The blogs I used were s elf selected based on ability to contact blog moderators for permission to post. I used tumblr, Nature and Scientific American for my results. There is also an issue of how dependable all the types of blogs are that I used, since I used the most followed and hyperlinking blogs. These blogs are popular for a myriad of reasons, one of which is how well cited and concise the infor mation is, as evidenced by academic sources. My age data would also have been more precise had I asked survey takers to state their exact age. In hindsight I should have done that to gain more accurate results. Another issue is that this information coul d quickly become irrelevant as more and more blogs are created as the Internet expands. Whether these data will accurately reflect the future blogosphere is unsure, especially as the younger generation ages and a new younger generation begins to read blog s, having grown up using computers. Another piece of information that would have been valuable would be gender. Because the scientific community is male dominated (Katila et al., 1999),
29 it would have been interesting to note what the gender lines were fo r science bloggers and readers. Sexism has been shown to at least sometimes play a role in how scientists are perceived (Winneras et al., 2001) so this could be something that a future researcher could elaborate on regarding how female science bloggers ar e perceived. It would also be helpful to establish what the correlations are between age and occupation for science blog readers because there was a small jump in number of viewers of science blogs in the middle age area that was somewhat similar in numbe r to how many people work in academia, there could possibly be a link between being a middle aged science reader and having an academic occupation. I also wanted to examine race/ethnicity, but this is a very complicated issue for a few reasons. First, as a European American, I am aware that the answer options I provide may make people feel limited because I may accidentally group what others consider two entirely separate ethnic identities into one which would force a survey taker into grouping themselv es into a category they consider far more general than another. Second, if I tried to include as many options as possible, there would be so many options available that survey takers may lose interest and move on. Third, if I gave an open answer option f or this, I would have to evaluate each and every one of the hundreds of responses and categorize them accordingly. This would have been my ideal alternative but time was simply too much of a constraint. Instead, I chose to minimize any frustration I migh t cause by choosing the easier route and kept that question out. My hope is
30 that in the future, someone with enough time and socio anthropological education may be able to ask this question as accurately as possible. After all, if I chose to create categ ories of race and ethnicity based on my general assumptions, my results for this question would be biased and, in the end, increase bias in my survey. However, what this thesis did highlight were the basic statistics of science readers in as broad a datab ase as possible given the restrictions, such as lack of permission. It has at least been established now that many, if not most science blog readers, are young, in school, read other blogs in addition to science blogs, and enjoy reading science blogs for their perceived accurateness and easier access to information than paper journalism. Another point to consider is that new technologies are developing with science blogs, such as Kindle, which allows portable downloads of books and articles. How this coi ncides with one another has yet to be established.
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36 Appendix 1: Survey 1. Are you 18 years of age or older? a. Yes b. No 2. AGREEMENT: I certify that I am 18 years of age or older. I am allowed only one survey to fill out. I understand the researcher will use the answers I give for data analysis purposes only and not to indentify me individually. I understand that this survey is anonymous and will not ask for personal identifiers. a. Yes b. No 3. What age bracket are you in? a. 18 30 b. 31 40 c. 41 50 d. 51 60 e. 61 70 f. 71 80 g. 81 90 h. 91 100 i. Over 100 4. What do you do for a living? a. Food service (waiter, chef, host, caterer) b. Academia (teacher, TA, staff) c. Student (high school, college) d. Mechanics/Maintenance (cars, home appliances, plumbing) e. Social sciences (cultural anthr opology, psychology, political science) f. Physical sciences (biology, chemistry, mathematics) g. Arts (theater, sculpture, music, paintings) h. Construction (planning, carpentry, house painting) i. Other 5. Did you grow up using computers? a. Yes b. No 6. If you did grow up using computers, did you have one at home or strictly a school, internet cafes, libraries,etc.? a. I had a computer at home b. I had access to computers in other places c. I did not grow up using computers 7. Do you generally read blogs? a. Yes b. No
37 8. If y generally read? a. Food (cooking, baking, dietary restrictions) b. Aesthetics (fashion, makeup, skin care) c. Electronics (video games, computers, iPods) d. Health (weight loss, exercise, vegan/ vegetarian, mental health) e. Arts (theater, sculpture, painting, music) f. Media (celebrities, television, political news) g. h. Other 9. Do you prefer to read science news online? a. Yes b. No 10. do you prefer to use the Internet? 11. 12. Why do you generally read this particular blog? Please click all that apply. a. Research for school b. Research for employment c. interests and hobbies) d. Personal enjoyment (it is relevant to my main interests and hobbies) e. Other 13. Do you enjoy reading blogs? a. Yes b. No 14. a. I can comment and ask questions and receive quicker feedback b. L ess of a hassle and mess than dealing with paper c. I like the moderators (good writing skills, intelligent perspectives, sense of humor, good advice) d. Other Appendix 2: Survey analysis code The code I used for each question is as follows: Question 1 = Q1 Question 2 = Q2 Question 3 = Q3 Question 4 = Q4 Question 5 = Q5
38 Question 6 = Q6 Question 7 = Q7 Question 8 = Q8 Question 9 = Q9 Question 10 = Q10 Question 11 = Q11 Question 12 = Q12 Question 13 = Q13 Question 14 = Q14 Each answer (a, b, c, etc) is assigned a subset of a, b, c, etc. For example, Q12, with answer options a e, is assigned Q12a, Q12b, Q12c, Q12d, and Q12e. Q10 and Q11 were open ended responses and had to be evaluated individually. Appendix 3: IRB Dear ALLISON, This project has been approved for one year from _12/12/2011__. If your protocol includes surveys, questionnaires, instruments, written informed consents, scripts, or debriefing forms, you will be required to ONLY use those that have been approved. All approved research data and fo rms must be kept for no less than three (3) years after completion of the approved project per Title 45 CFR Part 46 § 46.115(b). Once your research is complete (it may be earlier than the approval period), you must submit a Final Report Form (attached) t o the IRB to officially close your protocol in compliance with federal regulations. This form must be signed by your Faculty Advisor and is recommended to do so at the conclusion of your baccalaureate if your research was thesis related.
39 If you anticipa te this protocol to continue past one year, please send a letter to the Board within one month prior to the expiration date. You must provide justification on why you want the research to remain open (e.g. continued data analysis with no accrual, addition al accrual for more robust data, funding from an outside source to continue, etc.). Please remember that any changes to the protocol will require the submission of a complete Modification Request application to the IRB. Any adverse reaction by a researc h subject is to be reported immediately to the Chair of the IRB through Ms. Jeanne Viviani in the Office of Research Programs and Services at (941) 487 4649 or 4650 or via e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Questions concerning the IRB decision or any concerns may be directed to the IRB Chair through Ms. Viviani. Dear ALLIE, This project continuation has been approved FROM 12/12/2012 TO 05/31/2013. If your original or l ast approved protocol includes surveys, questionnaires, instruments, written informed consents, scripts, or debriefing forms, you will still be required to ONLY use those that have been approved by the IRB All approved research data and forms must be kep t for no less than three (3) years after completion of the approved project per Title 45 CFR Part 46 § 46.115(b) Once your research is complete (it may be earlier than the approval period), you must submit a Final Report Form (attached) to the IRB to officially close your protocol in compliance with federal regulations. This form must be signed by your Faculty Advisor and is recommended to do so at the c onclusion of your baccalaureate if your research was thesis related.
40 If you anticipate this protocol to continue another year, please send a letter to the Board within one month prior to the expiration date. You must provide justification on why you want the research to remain open (e.g. continued data analysis with no accrual, additional accrual for more robust data, funding from an outside source to continue, etc.). Please remember that any changes to the protocol will require the submission of a complete Modification Request application to the IRB. Any adverse reaction by a research subject is to be reported immediately to the Chair of the IRB through Ms. Jeanne Viviani in the Office of Research Programs and Services at (941) 487 4649 or 4650 or via e mail at email@example.com Questions concerning the IRB decision or any concerns may be directed to the IRB Chair through Ms. Viviani Appendix 4: Tables Q2 Cumulative Cumulative Q2 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent No 4 0.69 4 0.69 Yes 576 99.31 580 100.00 Frequency Missing = 33 Q3 Cumulative Cumulative Q3 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 18 30 433 83.11 433 83.11 31 40 42 8.06 475 91.17 41 50 16 3.07 491 94.24 51 60 25 4.80 516 99.04 61 70 5 0.96 521 100.00 Frequency Missing = 92
41 Cumulative Cumulative Q4 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 1 9 1.99 9 1.99 2 34 7.51 43 9.49 3 279 61.59 322 71.08 4 6 1.32 328 72.41 5 14 3.09 342 75.50 6 67 14.79 409 90.29 7 38 8.39 447 98.68 8 6 1.32 453 100.00 Frequency Missing = 160 Q5 Cumulative Cumulative Q5 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent No 81 15.55 81 15.55 Yes 440 84.45 521 100.00 Frequency Missing = 92 Cumulative Cumulative Q6 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 1 409 82.96 409 82.96 2 40 8.11 449 91.08 3 44 8.92 493 100.00 Frequency Missing = 120 Q7 Cumulative Cumulative Q7 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent No 86 16.57 86 16.57 Yes 433 83.43 519 100.00 Frequency Missing = 94 Cumulative Cumulative Q8 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 1 18 4.21 18 4.21 2 3 0.70 21 4.91 3 23 5.37 44 10.28 4 26 6.07 70 16.36 5 125 29.21 195 45.56 6 194 45.33 389 90.89 7 39 9.11 428 100.00
42 Frequency Missi ng = 185 Q9 Cumulative Cumulative Q9 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent No 42 8.16 42 8.16 Yes 473 91.84 515 100.00 Frequency Missing = 98 Cumulative Cumulative Q12 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 1 47 65.28 47 65.28 2 25 34.72 72 100.00 Frequency Missing = 541 Q13 Cumulative Cumulative Q13 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent No 18 3.50 18 3.50 Yes 497 96.50 515 100.00 Frequency Missing = 98 Cumulative Cumulative Q14 Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 1 25 5.41 25 5.41 2 105 22.73 130 28.14 3 332 71.86 462 100.00 Frequency Missing = 151
43 Appendix 5: History of Science Journalism and Its Cu ltural Context 17 th Century 250 to 577 (Kronick, 1976) The Reformation emphasizes science as a separate institution from religion (Gross et.al, 2007) 1690: First American newspaper printed at Cambridge Press (Brown, 2012). 18 th Century London (Kronick, 1990)(Burnham, 1990) Public awareness of science is limited to farming techniques and mechanisms (Fussell, 1969) European magazines tended to emphasize nationalism, class differentiation, and commerce (Baylin, 1992) 1740: First American magazines published (Haveman et.al., 2012). These are written in response to cultural influences of Great Britain (Schudson, 1978). These are mediocre at best, cutting a nd pasting from British magazines (Crain, 2002). Progression of these publications became increasingly nationalistic around the time of the American Revolution of 1776 (Tebbel & Zuckerman, 1991) 19 th Century Coinciding with the Industrial Revolution, this scientific peak introduced science into basic public school curricula (DeBoer, 2000) 1871: Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species introducing the concept of evolution through means of natural selection 1872: Popular Science first published in USA 1890: Formation of the National Geographic Foundation, whose aim was to increase public knowledge and respect for science, especially archaeology and biology
44 Early 20 th Century Development of the use of photography in news (Cookman, 2009). An example of this is National Geographic Magazine (Stack, 2013). At this point, science reporting is commonplace in the news (Lewenstein, 1992) Radio is introduced as a news media source (Lacey, 2002). Appreciated by people who Early radio had limited sources of information sources whose data could be manipulated to achieve personal goals; this culminating in radio propaganda against the Jews that h elped fuel the Holocaust (Bergmeier & Lotz, 1997) The idea of achieving unbiased news reporting through photography is introduced as a concept (Cookman, 2009) Photography is an important way to measure social progression. An example of this is seen in a Pennsylvania Railroad advertisement from Time Magazine in 1945 depicting an African American in a servile position. A 1999 Kool Cigarettes advertisement in the same magazine in 1999 depicts interracial couples (Grady, 2007) Advent of television as a more organized and cohesive response to radio, incorporating both sound and images. Television consumption increases with the development of consumerism as an American way of life (Boddy, 1992) Early television was heavily influenced by corporate i nterests (Whiteley, 1987) The launch of Sputnik, the post WWII era marked by the atomic bombing of Japan, and the Korean War fueled heavy investment in hard sciences by the USA (Leslie & Geiger, 1994). Consequentially, the US government increases funding for hard sciences education in public schools (DeVorkin, 1992).
45 Vietnam War: Photography heavily shapes public opinion as images are brought back from Vietnam by war photographers (Thompson & Clarke, 1974). This produces and generation. Higher coverage of environmental science and conservation (Mazur, 1998). Science reporting becomes closely tied to democratic ideal s and benefitting the common good as opposed to pure facts (Bauer, 2009). Boom in science journalism; every major newspaper has a science section (Weigold, 2001) The Cold War and the nuclear standoff has a heavy impact on public interest i n environmental science (Mazur, 1998) Traditional journalism (such as newspapers) are heavily impacted by economic difficulties; science writers are the first to go in newspapers (Vujnovic et.al., 2010)