Book Cover

Science Communication Online

Engaging Experts and Publics on the Internet 

Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher

200 pp. 6 x 9
8 illustrations
4 tables
Pub Date: March, 2019

Subjects: Rhetoric & Communication

Order Hardcover $89.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1398-8
Order Paperback $32.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5530-8

Read Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher’s blog post about this book on Discover’s Citizen Science Salon blog

“Of interest to all in the sciences and those among the interested public who wish to participate in new ways or to be better informed about the opportunities. Summing up: Recommended.”—CHOICE

Science Communication Online is a novel and thoroughgoing exploration of trans-scientific genres. The analyses presented provide a critical snapshot of the emerging digital scientific communication landscape. I fully expect the book to serve as an important touchstone for future scholarship on trans-scientific genres.” —S. Scott Graham

“Mehlenbacher’s insights on trans-scientific genres—genres in-between the professional and popularizing genres of scientific communication, such as crowdfunding sites, open databases, and blogs—expand our understanding of both genre-ing activity (how genres coalesce, evolve, and work) and the emerging ways scientists communicate in online spaces.” —Jonathan Buehl

Uncloistered by the web, science is finding its way into previously unimagined audiences. Whether collecting data in one’s backyard to help wildlife experts manage wolf populations or even funding research out of one’s own pocket, nonexperts can engage science at an unprecedented scale. As science communication has moved online, a range of important new genres have emerged that put professionals and the public into conversation with each other. In Science Communication Online: Engaging Experts and Publics on the Internet, Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher takes up these “trans-scientific” genres to explore how scientists are adapting their communications, how publics are increasingly involved in science, and how boundaries between experts and nonexperts continue to shift.

Bringing together genre studies and the rhetoric of science, Mehlenbacher examines a range of new forms of science communication that challenge traditional presumptions about experts and nonexperts—including Twitter and Reddit AMAs, crowdfunding proposals such as Kickstarter and, civic-minded databases such as Safecast, and the PLOS blogging network. Science Communication Online illustrates the unique features of these genres and connects them to their rhetorical functions and the larger context leading to their emergence and evolution—from the democratization of science, challenges to expertise and expert status, and new political economies. Science Communication Online captures the important moment we find ourselves in now—one not defined by science and society but science in society.

Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo and coeditor of Emerging Genres in New Media Environments.




Chapter 1  Theory and Method: Genre Studies and Rhetorical Criticism

Chapter 2  Crowdfunding: Genres for Funding Research

Chapter 3  Databases: Genres for Knowledge Production

Chapter 4  Blogging: Genres for Scientific Engagement