Ecology of Contentious Scientific Knowledge Co-production

In the Age of Social Media

About the Project

The ability to not only understand and interpret, but also identify reliable scientific knowledge is essential in the modern world. Presently, more and more citizens are turning to online resources–like Wikipedia–for concise explanations of numerous scientific issues. Given the growing popularity of and widespread reliance on tools like Wikipedia, the content of which is generated by ordinary citizens sharing and co-constructing knowledge online, the question arises: do resources like Wikipedia articles present users with objective scientific information given the fact that content is not necessarily generated by scientists and/or bonafide experts?

The goal of the proposed research is to investigate how ordinary citizens digest and interpret scientific knowledge presented in social media and to advance the conceptualization of scientific "credibility" from a laypersons' perspective. Specifically, interviews are conducted with mothers of small children regarding the way they conduct research about the MMR vaccination and other health-related topics. The findings of this study will be useful in improving the current practice for science communication.

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