Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2017


Scientific information and data have become more readily available to populations that may not have had easy access to science content prior to increases in internet use and availability. Website creation platforms continue to be democratized by efforts to limit the amount of knowledge and money needed to launch, operate, and maintain websites. The internet also allows scientists to communicate with publics in more meaningful ways beyond education, such as scientific discourse. The opportunities that accompany expanded internet and website capabilities creates need for a comprehensive guide to help scientists or scientific groups take advantage of the internet’s unique ability to connect diverse populations with scientific discourse. Thus in this thesis I will share my research findings about website design methodologies and production team dynamics in order to explain how to successfully produce a website and foster scientific discourse. The insights I share were produced in a multi-case participatory and explanatory study. The first case is participatory and involves the production of Spire: The Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability. This case aims to illuminate some of the opportunities and challenges that occur in a community of producers who collaborate to create a website for scientific discourse. The second case is explanatory and involves analysis of five website-based scientific communities to identify approaches to foster discourse, including the use of dialogic loops, strategic messaging, and interactivity. I conclude by describing how these and related web-based approaches can help foster scientific discourse for democratic engagement.

Included in

Communication Commons