Public Release: 

Some biologists shun new media

Neuroscientists rate social networks as important but don't spend much time with them

American Institute of Biological Sciences

Although biologists think that "new media" such as blogs and online social networks have an important influence on public opinion and political decisions, they aren't much inclined to use them themselves to stay informed about developments in science. Rather, they prefer traditional outlets such as newspapers and television. That seems, at least, to be the implication of a study published in the April issue of BioScience.

The study, by Joachim Allgaier of the Jülich Research Center in Germany and four coauthors, examined the opinions of 257 neuroscientists working in Germany and the United States who completed an online survey. Although German scientists had a slightly lower opinion of the influence of new media than US scientists, most researchers in both countries thought new media were important even though they made "lackluster" personal use of them. Scientists under 40 made slightly more use of them than older scientists.

The findings could be misleading if those who replied are not typical of neuroscientists, and it is possible that neuroscientists' attitudes are different from those of other biologists. Still, the study is a significant addition to what is known about scientists' communication habits. It suggests, the authors write, that scientists "continue to value the vetting process to which information is subject in media channels."


BioScience, published monthly, is the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS; BioScience is a forum for integrating the life sciences that publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles. The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is a meta-level organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents nearly 160 member societies and organizations. The article by Allgaier and colleagues can be accessed ahead of print as an uncorrected proof at until early April.

The complete list of peer-reviewed articles in the April, 2013 issue of BioScience is as follows. These are now published ahead of print.

Responsible Aquaculture in 2050: Valuing local Conditions and Human Innovations will Be Key to Success. James S. Diana, Hillary S. Egna, Thierry Chopin, Mark S. Peterson, Ling Cao, Robert Pomeroy, Marc Verdegem, William T. Slack, Melba G. Bondad-Reantaso, and Felipe Cabello

Energy use and Greenhouse Gas emissions from Crop Production Using the Farm Energy Analysis Tool. Gustavo G. T. Camargo, Matthew R. Ryan, and Tom L. Richard

Sensory Adaptations of Fishes to Subterranean Environments. Daphne Soares and Matthew L. Niemiller

Journalism and Social media as means of observing the Contexts of Science. Joachim Allgaier, Sharon Dunwoody, Dominique Brossard, Yin-Yueh Lo, and Hans Peter Peters

Learning to Reason about Ecosystems Dynamics over Time: The Challenges of an Event-Based Causal Focus. Tina A. Grotzer, Amy M. Kamarainen, M. Shane Tutwiler, Shari Metcalf, and Chris Dede

Progress and Perspectives on Question-Driven Coral Reef monitoring. Peter Houk and Robert van Woesik

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