First published Proceedings of an Australian Science Communicators Conference are now available online

Thank you to Nancy Longnecker for the update and for kindly editing the Proceedings!

Professor Nancy Longnecker – Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

The first published proceedings of an Australian Science Communicators conference are now available online at ASC Publications. The 200-page volume includes full papers and presentation abstracts as well as summaries of keynotes, plenaries, panel discussions, workshops, the Spectrum Science Art exhibition and other special events as a record of this noteworthy conference.

Many people played important roles in this undertaking. Authors submitted their work for review and waited patiently for the review process and publication to be completed. The Program Committee (Claire Harris, Kali Madden, Nancy Longnecker and Jesse Shore) went through each abstract and proposal submitted and allocated all those accepted to thematic strands to strengthen coherence of sessions at the conference.

Without reviewers, there is no peer review process and thanks for reviewing efforts go to Emma Bartle, Jenny Donovan, Jean Fletcher, Mzamose Gondwe, Will Grant, Nancy Longnecker, Jennifer Manyweather, Vicky Martin, Jenni Metcalfe, John O’Connor, Lindy Orthia, Will Rifkin and Miriam Sullivan.

Editing the ASC2014 Proceedings was my parting gift to ASC after almost two decades of membership. Editing any volume is a big but satisfying job. Incorporation of a research stream at the ASC conference and production of a peer-reviewed conference proceedings are ways to enhance the rigour of science communication for both practitioners and theorists. I am proud to have helped make this conference proceedings a reality and am happy to share what I learned with the next editors.

While many hands make lighter work, production of an edited volume is a substantial job and it was a relief when we finally published this. So why bother? For me personally, belonging to ASC shaped my career and this was a chance to give back to the ASC community. It has been extremely satisfying to be a member and to contribute to ASC in a variety of ways over the years. The small band of friends and colleagues who helped revive the WA branch in the mid-naughties and those on the Executive at that time taught me a great deal as have those who contributed to production of this volume.

Using a peer review process in publishing means that these papers are scholarly publications as  defined by the Australian Government’s audit standards. The full papers ‘count’ as a publication category E1 for those who record publications as a performance indicator. The research abstracts in this publication satisfy the requirements for publication category E2.

So what? As science communicators, we know that peer-reviewed articles are not the be-all and end-all of good communication. Yet for all its flaws, the peer-review system is still widely regarded as providing an important source of credible information.

Given there are so many alternative mechanisms to communicate, why do academics and other researchers remain so fixated on publishing peer-reviewed papers? It is important for our employers and in turn, they ensure it is important to us as individuals by rewarding publishing via the promotion process.

Most of us would agree that this is not a great mechanism. But the rules of the game we play in are that organisational publication tally is one thing that determines the size of slice of the university funding pie that individual universities get from government (at least in Australia and New Zealand). This funding is substantial at a research intensive university. While funding for one publication is small, it adds up. The financial reward for publications in a large research department can be enough to fund a full-time salary each year.

We can try to change the rules, but the maxim to publish or perish is likely to be with us for at least the remainder of my career. Publication of the ASC2014 proceedings has enabled some early career science communication researchers to add to their CVs. In addition to the value to authors on their CVs, readers will find value in papers and abstracts in the proceedings.

The papers in this volume touch on current critical issues such as risk communication, science and art collaboration and use of social media to support the community of science communication. Research students invest months of dedicated work into writing research proposals and literature reviews. Half of the full, peer-reviewed papers in this volume fall into this category. It can be difficult to find an appropriate place to publish these types of reviews since they usually do not contain ‘new’ results. Yet, literature reviews and synopses often synthesise a great deal of current work and can contain insights that are useful to other science communicators. Happy reading!

The citation for this resource is:

Longnecker, C. Harris & K. Madden. (Eds.). 2015. Proceedings of the Australian Science Communicators National Conference. 2–5 Feb, 2014, Brisbane.


ASC 2014 workshops and activities

The ASC2014 Program Committee is excited to announce that there are new optional workshops and activities available for conference delegates. Spaces are limited:

  • Sunday 2nd February: Community Storytelling Series, Part 1

Telling stories with images using smart phones and tablets. A free 3 hour afternoon workshop for delegates only [times to be confirmed] Facilitated by Susan Rooney-Harding and hosted by The Edge [limited to the first 40 RSVPs]

Everyone has a story to tell, and a community to whom that story is relevant. Our Community Storytelling Series is designed to give you the confidence and know-how to tell your stories using the tools you already have at hand your iPad, iPhone and other smart phones and tablets. Join Susan Rooney-Harding in the first of this three part series to hone your story capturing and story sharing skills. Keep an eye out for the remaining two workshops in the series being released soon:

  • Wednesday 5th February: Community Storytelling Series, Part 2

The art and practice of story capturing. A free 3 hour workshop for delegates during the conference.

  • Thursday 6th February: Community Storytelling Series, Part 3

iPad/iPhone movie making using your iPads and iPhones. A one day post-conference workshop [times to be confirmed] Facilitated by Susan Rooney-Harding and hosted by The Edge [limited to the first 20 RSVPs]

Susan Rooney-Harding, Creative Director/Producer of Inspireevery1 Production Susan Rooney-Harding is the Creative Director and Multimedia Producer of Inspireevery1 Production. She has vast experience in community storytelling and has equipped multiple communities and individuals with the skills to create digital content for multiplatform use. Prior to this role she was the ABC Open Producer for the Riverland in South Australia. Content that she created with her community has been seen on News 24, Landline, ABC Online, ABC Open and ABC Rural. Susan is an active board member and the Multimedia Director for Women in Technology and Innovation and is this years TEDx Adelaide Women licensee.

  • Monday 3rd February: Speed networking session brought to you by ASC’s SEQ branch and the University of Queensland, on the ABC Balcony from 8pm. Free for delegates only.
[limited to the first 80 RSVPs]

To RSVP for these events you simply need to log into the delegate portal using your access key. Click the Edit button next to Other Activities to view and select available optional activities at this time.

If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Conference Office by email  General event information and access can be found at

President’s update – #ASC14

Thanks to Claire Harris for the update!

Quick ASC14 stats and facts

  • Over 120 abstract and session submissions
  • 1 conference dinner
  • 1 breakfast hosted by New Zealand Science Communicators
  • Earlybird registrations open until next month
  • Submissions from New Zealand, South Africa and Japan
  • ASC conferences have been run since 1996
  • We will have four streams (in four rooms) of conference activities over the three days

The program committee (Claire Harris, James Hutson, Nancy Longnecker, Kali Madden, Jesse Shore) has been very busy reviewing all the submissions that have come in. We have been very impressed with the ideas and way that people have embraced the theme of Insight, Impact, Innovation.

Many proposals pick up on the hot topics in science communication, with speakers coming from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including communication, research, journalism, policy and business.

The conference will feature a poster session for the first time as well as a spectacular Sci-Art exhibition; social events including a conference dinner featuring a special dignitary and the Unsung Hero of Science Communication Award and a breakfast event with our New Zealand counterparts. Importantly, this is your chance to network with a diverse group of people.

Many of you would know that ASC conferences have been run since 1996. I would love to find out who has been to the most ASC conferences or if attending a past conference has resulted in something of significance for you. Did you meet your current employer? Did you meet your current wife?…

Let us know, comment below!

ASC 2014 conference update

Register now for the ASC2014 conference (2 to 5 February 2014, Brisbane)

Thank you to Claire Harris for providing us with the conference update. This article was published in ASC’s newsletter Scope (August edition).

ASC 2014 conference activities are in full swing with only 2 weeks left until all session proposals and abstracts are due.

What you submit is going to shape the entire three days…

Why do we do this you might ask? Because the ASC conference philosophy is to facilitate a conference that is for you and in many areas, by you. Indeed the Conference Organising and Program Committees have been, for many months, digesting feedback from past conferences and from recent events, discussions on the ASC-list, conversations we’ve had with you face to face or by email…

We all have our thinking caps on about responding to and actioning the feedback and ideas. Part of this, though, can only be achieved with you, our members and supporters of the science communication community. For you are all champions and agents of change. So here’s your chance to make a difference to the conference program!

To answer a couple of questions we’ve had about the way that the conference programming will be done and how the more-traditional research stream is being handled this year, we want to provide some more here.

Firstly, we know many of you live and breathe a mix of research/theory and practice in your jobs and science communication interest, while others sometimes struggle to keep on top of all that’s going on. This is why, put simply, we’re aiming to integrate research and practice across the program; to help bridge perceived or real gaps between these two areas. We believe this type of approach has the potential to make our conference more valuable for our diverse community. We hope we come some way to achieving this integration in our program! Your advice and feedback will assist with this process.

We have also had calls for more case studies and real life stories, good and bad and everything in between, from practitioners. There are so many people doing interesting things that we don’t often get to hear about. And we’ve had requests for more time for research questions and answers, more research embedded in the main program, and a poster session.

In addition, a conference proceedings has long been on the wish list.For the first time we are in a position to offer all speakers and session producers the opportunity to submit abstracts and, if they want to, papers for conference proceedings. So the knowledge and experience of presenters can live on into the future.

More information is available at our conference website and if you have any conference session ideas or special events you want to run by the program committee (or need some assistance in developing), please email

Registrations are open. Sponsors are welcome.