Accepted Paper:

Toward an inherently collaborative rhetoric of science communication  


Erika Szymanski (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

How do collaborations with knowledgeable non-scientists avoid domesticating non-scientists for scientific use? I explore models for collaborative science communication avoiding science dominance by beginning with alternate epistemologies and their challenge to the shape of scientific discourse.

Paper long abstract:

Participatory or "citizen" science projects often use non-professionals as a kind of distributed scientific instrument, whereby scientists control data collection by a tool composed of animate thinking bodies. Scientists remain the "experts." Such models for participation ignore the collective expertise of communities who can and should be involved in scientific production, groups who lie not between the general lay person and the professional scientist but on a different and overlapping axis, whose knowledge is not incomplete with respect to scientific experts but which constitutes a complementary form of expertise. But if we acknowledge the collective expertise of a group outside but overlapping with science, what language do collaborations use to avoid merely enrolling non-scientists in scientific projects, entraining or domesticating them for scientific use? I will in this presentation explore models for collaborative science communication that avoid devolving into top-down science dominance by beginning with alternate epistemologies, argue for the necessity of such models to the success of applied scientific research, and consider challenges such models pose for the larger shape of scientific discourse.

Panel T106
Citizen science: Beyond the laboratory