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ScienceFlows 2024: Citizen perception, misinformation and science

CAROLINA MORENO CASTRO y ANA SERRA// We begin 2024 by sharing the perspectives and new horizons we have at ScienceFlows for the upcoming months. This year presents itself as an important period for our social research projects, designed with the firm intention of placing people at the core of scientific research.

In 2023, we closed some of the projects that have allowed us to advance in recent years on the public understanding of science and the social perspective of science communication. As in previous years, we take stock, looking ahead to the future challenges of 2024, which will be marked by new projects that have just begun.

Over the past year, several projects have shaped the agenda of ScienceFlows’ work. For instance, the already completed NoSUM concluded with the publication of the book The social dimension of research in experimental sciences through the co-design of a chemical submission detection kit. This project engaged over 600 individuals in co-creation workshops for the design and usability of a chemical submission kit to detect GHB in alcoholic beverages. Additionally, over 1000 people responded to the survey on the perception of the risk of experiencing a crime with chemical submission. The book gathers some of the successful strategies followed and also shows some of the keys to developing collaborative projects between experimental sciences and social sciences.

On the other hand, within the framework of the IBERIFIER project, we have led two reports on the situation of misinformation in Spain and Portugal. The first of the reports, titled: IBERIFIER Report on the impact of disinformation on the Iberian media industry in Spain & Portugal, included the design of a survey launched in Spain and the same survey launched in Portugal, evaluating issues regarding the quality of information and the public perception of its impact on communication companies in the two countries. The second report, titled: IBERIFIER Report on Legal and Political Aspects of Disinformation in Portugal and Spain, involved legal advisors, literature review, and the analysis of three case studies from each of the countries. In Portugal, rumors about inflation, the 2022 parliamentary elections, and the invasion of Ukraine were analyzed. In Spain, the cases of the Yes means Yes Law, immigration, and the local and regional elections of 2023 were examined.

IBERIFIER final meeting

At the end of February, this project will conclude, and the second phase will begin under the title of IBERIFIER+, which will consolidate the Iberian Observatory of Disinformation.

Since April 2023, we have also been working as partners in the European project COALESCE, whose primary objective will be to launch the European Observatory of Science Communication to improve dissemination and scientific culture in European institutions. In the project, which will last until 2027, we work together with seven other European universities, four scientific communication companies, and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). In the consortium, we participate from Spain, Science for Change, FECYT, and our team from UVEG.

By the end of February IBERIFIER will come to an end, and the second phase of the project will begin under the title of IBERIFIER+, which will consolidate the Iberian Observatory of Disinformation

Additionally, in 2023, other projects in which we have collaborated as members of the research team also concluded, such as FIT-FORTHEM, whose objective has been to investigate university practices to strengthen the FORTHEM alliance, through a consolidated strategy of innovation and development that connects with the socioeconomic environment. One of the contributions of this project is the book published by the publishing service of the University of Valencia, titled: FIT FORTHEM alliance universities selected good practices in R&I. Towards a European University. This book that gathers the best practices carried out in the FORTHEM network of universities, highlighting the innovative environment, internationalization, open science, the transfer of science to society, and scientific culture.

The year we leave behind has been a year of multiple publications. Thus, the monograph Comunicación, ciencia y ciudadanía en tiempos de la pandemia del covid-19 en Iberoamérica,, coordinated by our colleagues Carolina Moreno-Castro and Paula von-Polheim, was published in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies (TSN) of the University of Malaga. Likewise, it has been the year in which ScienceFlows has consolidated its participation in the Ibero-American Network for the study of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda of the University of Malaga. Also, ScienceFlows researchers have published four works on SDG10 (Reducing Inequalities) in the book edited by Tirant Humanidades, titled Las universidades iberoamericanas ante los retos de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (Ibero-American universities facing the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals). Also, we participated in PCST2023 in Rotterdam and in CCSC2023 in Granada. We closed the year by participating in the first Symposium on Scientific Communication CERU, held on December 2 and 3 at the Cervantes Institute in Manchester. Young Spanish researchers currently working in the United Kingdom organized a first meeting where they highlighted the importance of communication in scientific research.

Carolina Moreno durante la mesa redonda de presentación del monográfico TSN

Furthermore, all publications resulting from this year of work are openly accessible on the research group’s website. In conclusion, 2023 has been a year full of very positive changes for our research team.

We celebrate the news that Empar Vengut-Climent successfully passed the civil service exams to become a Secondary School Teacher in the Valencian Community. At ScienceFlows, we wish her a fruitful career and hope she continues to collaborate with us on future projects.

We also extend our congratulations to Vanessa Roger, who took on a new role as Assistant Professor in the area of Audiovisual Communication at the University of Valencia, bringing innovation on artificial intelligence in teaching to our students.

We cannot fail to mention Rafael Tuesca Molina, to whom the Universidad Uninorte de Barranquilla (Colombia) awarded the Master of Masters Medal. This recognition is a testament to his exceptional contribution to teaching in the Department of Public Health, making a significant difference in the education of his students. Likewise, we congratulate Elena Denia on her appointment at Tufts University as a Civic Science Postdoctoral Fellow, after completing her postdoctoral period at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In her new position, she will teach a course on Science, Technology, and Society, continuing her outstanding academic career. The year has been filled with presentations, participation in events, and the launch of new challenges, where the involvement of citizens in our activities has greatly enriched our social research. We continue to move forward with enthusiasm towards future projects!