writing

The Power of Simplicity: Explaining All-There-Is with the most common thousand words

Roberto Trotta

The book Edge of the Sky recounts the story of the Universe — All-There-Is — and its outstanding mysteries by following a female scientist — Student-Woman — as she spends one night observing distant galaxies — Star-Crowds — with the help of a giant telescope — Big-Seer. The story is written using only the most common 1000 words in the English language. In this article author and astrophysicist, Roberto Trotta, reflects on how he came to write the book, why he chose this format and what he has learnt along the way.

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Readability and Visuals in Medical Research Information Forms for Children and Adolescents

Petronella Grootens-Wiegers, Martine C. De Vries, Tessa E. Vossen, Jos M. Van den Broek

Children are often-overlooked receivers of medical information, and little research addresses their information needs. However, young children are capable of understanding medical concepts, and they express the desire to be informed. This study addresses the quality of medical research information forms for children in the Netherlands, by assessing text readability and the role of visuals. Children’s reading books, nonfiction books, and textbooks were used as comparison. Seven focus groups were conducted to identify children’s preferences and needs for text and supporting visuals. We argue that the use of visuals is a powerful, but neglected, tool to improve medical information for minors.

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‘The kind of mildly curious sort of science interested person like me’: Science bloggers’ practices relating to audience recruitment

Mathieu Ranger, Karen Bultitude

With at least 150 million professional and amateur blogs on the Internet, blogging offers a potentially powerful tool for engaging large and diverse audiences with science. This article investigates science blogging practices to uncover key trends, including bloggers’ self-perceptions of their role. Interviews with seven of the most popular science bloggers revealed them to be driven by intrinsic personal motivations. Wishing to pursue their love of writing and share their passion for science, they produce content suitable for niche audiences of science enthusiasts, although they do not assume background scientific knowledge. A content analysis of 1000 blog posts and comparison with the most popular blogs on the Internet further confirmed this result and additionally identified key factors that affect science blog popularity, including update frequency, topic diversity and the inclusion of non-text elements (especially images and video).

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Science blogging: an exploratory study of motives, styles, and audience reactions

Merja Mahrt, Cornelius Puschmann (JCOM)

This paper presents results from three studies on science blogging, the use of blogs for science communication. A survey addresses the views and motives of science bloggers, a first content analysis examines material published in science blogging platforms, while a second content analysis looks at reader responses to controversial issues covered in science blogs. Bloggers determine to a considerable degree which communicative function their blog can realize and how accessible it will be to non-experts. Frequently readers are interested in adding their views to a post, a form of involvement which is in turn welcomed by the majority of bloggers.

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