This editorial provides an incredibly useful guide to the process of undertaking geoscience communication research that might be suitable for publication within the journal GC, and thus the manuscript would make a worthy contribution to the journal itself. The editorial is well structured and outlines key steps, backed up by many published examples, to convince readers that publication of communication activities/research is worthwhile and how one can go about this. I have only minor comments on the manuscript.
For activity-driven research, the authors have a tendency to focus only on impact evaluation. Indeed on lines 153-154 the authors state that "the GC editorial team would like to see investigations of the dialogue and the communication process itself", which would constitute a form of process evaluation. This statement comes across as though there are currently no such studies in GC, when this is not the case. Recent examples include: Archer et al. (2021b), Balmer (2021), Skinner (2020). In addition, in my opinion it would also be helpful for the authors to raise the possibility of audience evaluation, i.e. assessing who the audiences of communication activities actually were compared to targets, such as socially disadvantaged demographics (e.g. Archer, 2021) or those that don't typically engage with science (e.g. Archer, 2020). Both of these types of research are often performed in social science and educational research, so would be worth explicitly mentioning somewhere in the article so that a wider range of potential activity-led articles can be udnerstood by readers and potential authors.
I think it would also be helpful for the authors to elaborate on how self-reflection may be used in constructing GC research articles, which is only briefly mentioned on line 434. Many times throughout the manuscript it is stated that qualitative and/or quantitative evidence is required, so reconciling how self-reflection may be included with this statement is required. Self-reflection, grounded in contemporary theory, is a form of Action Research. Mentioning how this may be leveraged in GC would be immensely helpful to potential authors that wish to go down this route.
Line 16: "Behave" may be the wrong word, since this implies subsequent actions by participants/audiences. "Respond to these efforts" may be better, since this verb evokes a greater variety of outcomes such as attitudes and thoughts, and also makes clearer the subject of the sentence.
Line 26: "may involve" would be more accurate, since there is the possibility of impact that does not include such communication activities or even the active participation of the academic, as evidenced in many REF Impact cases.
Lines 29-32: It would be useful to mention social science and educational research, established fields that have a great amount of overlap with science communication and public/societal engagement, somewhere here.
Line 39: "robust evaluation"?
Lines 56 & 278: Perhaps not the right phrase, since "tangential communication" usually refers to going off topic. Maybe "subtly" or "stealthily" communicate would be better?
Line 60: "Our target audience for this editorial" in order to clarify that you are not simply referring to the journal's target audience.
Line 63: "as well as" instead of the last "and"?
Lines 74-75: "other geoscientific work" Please clarify, does this refer to (non-communication) geoscientific research?
Lines 130-135: Personally, I would say this a little harsh on activity-driven research and ignores that qualitatively-drawn conclusions can offer broad insights into why specific aspects may or may not have been well received, which can therefore be applied elsewhere. I would suggest the authors temper this argument slightly.
Line 200: "implementation or impact" to include a broader range of potential research questions?
Line 200: The authors should highlight highlight that any success metrics should be, where possible, benchmarked against other available data in published or grey literature and not simply arbitrary.
Line 229: "emitted from the sun" is not technically correct since these waves can naturally arise in the solar wind itself as it travels towards Earth or as the wind interacts with Earth's magnetosphere. "due to the 'solar wind'" would be fine.
Line 233: This sentence is a slight mischaracterisation of the authors. While the statement is true of the first author, the co-authors have different scientific backgrounds (e.g. medical science) but are principally public engagement professionals/practitioners.
Line 234: What the authors mean by "stakes" is not defined until much later, so perhaps should not be referred to at this point in the manuscript.
Line 270: "or audience" I would suggest this is removed, since there were clear audiences in mind during the planning (geoscientists vs. non-geoscientists).
Line 342: "Science communication researchers"? Not all professional practitioners are trained in evaluation/research methods and/or underlying theory.
Lines 349-349: "interdisciplinarity of the project and stakeholders"? In some of the examples presented, the authors already had interdisciplinary expertise that they could leverage in order to enable publication.
Lines 375-378: Perhaps the authors could comment that the act of collaborating with different disciplines might make authors to GC more skilled in new areas and thus able to continue publishing their communication activities/studies with less assistance in the future?
Line 389: "might not" instead of "cannot" as this will also depend on the effect size.
Lines 418-420: These appear to be primary sources of data, so should they not go on Line 400 along with the mention of graffiti walls (which included drawings as well as words)?
Line 418: Raising demographics here highlights the need to discuss demographic data, either as a primary or secondary data source (e.g. Archer, 2020, 2021).
Line 424: "the size and significance of any potential changes" in order to highlight that there may be no real changes from before to after as a result of robust statistical analysis?
Line 426: Perhaps add comments and likes alongside views for YouTube videos?
Line 432: Quantitative linguistics concerns empirical properties and laws of languages, whereas what the authors refer to here is quantifying qualitative data.
Figure 1: Panel a is somewhat misleading, since the collection of evaluative data requires prior-planning and thus the research element cannot be wholly unconnected from the activity. I would suggest the authors modify to include some slight overlap to the activity and research.
Figure 2: The numbering does not start at the top left, which may be confusing for readers. I can see that this has been chosen to align with the arrows, however, if I understand correctly, the process is not a cycle thus such cyclical arrows are not warranted. I would suggest the authors use a simpler depiction either using typical flow chart style or even just a vertically numbered list.
Line 56: "video games" (a space is missing)
Line 277: "is a risk"
Line 355: "a simple survey" missing indefinite article
Line 359: "a direct feed" missing indefinite article
Line 419: "school children" space missing
Line 437: "make" remove the s
Line 510 "recommended" add ed
Archer, M. O.: Space Sound Effects Short Film Festival: using the film festival model to inspire creative art–science and reach new audiences, Geosci. Commun., 3, 147–166, https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-3-147-2020, 2020.
Archer, M. O., DeWitt, J., Thorley, C., and Keenan, O.: Evaluating participants' experience of extended interaction with cutting-edge physics research through the PRiSE “research in schools” programme, Geosci. Commun., 4, 147–168, https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-4-147-2021, 2021.
Archer, M. O.: Schools of all backgrounds can do physics research – on the accessibility and equity of the Physics Research in School Environments (PRiSE) approach to independent research projects, Geosci. Commun., 4, 189–208, https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-4-189-2021,
Balmer, D.: The value of short Earth science continuing professional development for trainee primary school teachers, Geosci. Commun., 4, 33–41, https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-4-33-2021, 2021.2021.
Skinner, C.: Flash Flood!: a SeriousGeoGames activity combining science festivals, video games, and virtual reality with research data for communicating flood risk and geomorphology, Geosci. Commun., 3, 1–17, https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-3-1-2020, 2020.
Please see attached response to all comments.
This GC editorial builds on the first GC editorial by Illingworth et al. (2018), and provides a detailed route to publication aimed at geoscientists involved in geoscience communication activities. I found this editorial very insightful and a good balance between theory and illustrative examples of impactful GC publications. I wish I had read this editorial at the start of my SciComm/SciArt career during my PhD! Please find a few minor points below which will hopefully help improve this editorial for publication.
- P3 L74-77: The phrasing of these sentences makes the two first items: "complying with funders' requirements" and "communicating with relevant stakeholders", almost secondary and readers might dismiss them. I would suggest rephrasing the sentences to highlight the importance of all of these three valid points, and explicitly linking to sections of the paper that describe these points in more details.
- P3 L76-77: I found reading this sentence about contributing to building a field of geoscience communication a little bit intimidating. The first thought I had was that as I didn't get any training as a geoscience communicator, am I still entitled to contributing to the field's literature? You tackle this point really well later in the paper when you talk about collaborating on geoscience communication activities and outputs, but I was wondering if it might be helpful to allude to this already now, for readers like me?
- Section 3: Another approach I have seen many geoscientists follow is a mix of both approaches illustrated in Fig. 1, where the activity design is done following approach 1a, and later reframed to publish it following approach 1b. I was wondering if you could comment on this and whether it is desirable?
- P5 L133-135: I suggest changing "useful" to "applicable" or "impactful". The outcomes might probably still be useful for a certain end, but it might be harder to draw any impact retrospectively.
- P5 L152-154: Investigations of the dialogue and communication process is a great idea! Could you given an example or two of papers that do this well? A minor additional comment, I found this point slightly out of place here. Consider moving it (along with other recommendations) to a "further recommendations" section at the end of the paper if you think it would work well.
- P7 L199-201: I found defining what success looks like a very hard task when writing my first SciArt project proposals, and very different to anything I had written in science before (especially as an early career scientist who had never written a grant application). In science, "success" is very abstract in that an experiment might be successful either if it fails or if it works as expected, because both outcomes are scientific findings in their own right. Could you maybe elaborate a bit more on this task and/or provide some useful literature/resources on the topic to guide readers?
- P7 L212: Maybe reiterate here that they can be quantitative or qualitative data and give a few quick examples?
- P14 L428: Could you please define here what "network analysis" means?
- P15 L469: I would add that these forms can usually be found directly via one's institute, for readers wondering where to find them.
- Section 10: Here, you focus on GC publication as it is the target of this editorial. It might be worth noting here that widely accessible communication of research can also be achieved in different spaces using various formats to reach specific audiences, and that publishing in GC is the space and format you focus on here. E.g., Exhibition visitors who might not necessarily know about GC might find it interesting to find out about geoscientists' analysis of an exhibition via blog posts, a series of posts on social media, short videos, etc.
- Section 11: Are the points in this section in a specific order? I would swap some of them around (e.g., 2 and 3 before 1), so this led me to wonder if these were in a particular order.
- Figure 3: Consider adding a legend of what the different dots are on this figure. What is the fourth dot?
- additional comma not needed before parenthesis is being closed.- brackets not needed around "Hut et al.".- "to" can be removed.- "ed" missing at the end of "recommend".
This paper provides a useful encouragement for any prospective contributors to Geoscience Communication. It is primarily focused on the criteria and approaches that are likely to lead to successful publication in this journal. It does, however, seem to gloss-over what many would argue to be the hardest part of this kind of work, namely, analysing the data.
On page 7, a simple 6-point process is described. While I agree that it’s critical to define “what success looks like”, I would argue that analysis against this criteria alone will lead to an “evaluation” rather than a research paper. A research paper, more often than not, will have a deeper question beyond simple evaluation against a pre-defined success metric. Some explanation about the difference between these would be helpful.
It was also surprising to me that no further padding was included around Step 5 “Analyse the data” (line 213). This is surely the hardest area for someone who has not been trained in these methodologies, and the part of the process where guidance and collaboration might be most helpful. The subsequent case studies provide excellent examples related to the level of specific expertise that might be required for this step, and section 8.2 expands on this a bit more, but it might be worth adding at least a sentence at this early stage indicating that this step requires particular research expertise and a substantial amount of work!
Figure 2 provides an interesting approach to conceptualising the research planning framework, which I found helpful while reading the text. Two design suggestions related to this figure:- the grey box in the middle I think needs to be labelled (v) rather than (iv) with reference to the stages on the left hand side (purple);- I think it would be more compelling if the grey box ALSO correlated with the cycle on the right hand side (green). This could be achieved if the green cycle was a mirror-image to the purple one, ie, running anticlockwise, with both cycles overlapping and passing through the box in the middle named “plan and undertake research-informed communication”. Currently, it looks like that happens either before the research question is defined, or after the paper has been written.
I was also surprised by the narrative related to how high or low stakes a particular initiative might carry. This appears initially at line 234, later at 349, and then is expanded in figure 3. While I appreciate that science communication research might require different amounts of rigour and depth depending on the outcome and impact, I think it is risky to infer that it’s ok if some (“low stakes”) science communication research might not need specific skillsets for their data analysis, and therefore might not “warrant wider interdisciplinary input”. I’m not entirely convinced of the value of Figure 3 overall. In addition, the relevance of the placement of the various dots is not clear from either the caption or the text – if they refer to specific case studies discussed in the paper then they need to be appropriately labelled or identified.
Finally, the paper provides a useful overview of the methods that have been used to date in GC articles. I wonder, however, if the purpose of this article is to encourage greater breadth in submissions. If so, it might be worth noting that there are several additional approaches, and types of data, that may be used for documenting and publishing communication work, such as think-pieces, auto-ethnographic works or explorations using art and other creative processes. It’s not clear from this paper if such articles would indeed be welcomed by GC – they certainly would present a different kind of “data” as that explored here. I would recommend making this clear either way (and , if not welcome, suggesting that such papers would be better suited to alternative journals focused on public engagement with science).
Finally, it would be useful to also include a short section outlining the level of support that GC provides during the submission and review process. For example, is there a pre-submission “pitch” stage, do you offer suggestions for potential collaborators, what is the peer-review process, and what is your recommended approach to co-authorship. This things may differ from the main disicipline in which the prospective authors or communicators are familiar with.
Despite these comments, I think it's great that this paper has been darfted and hope it will encourage firther publication on this field.
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