2018 Summer Symposium

6th Iowa State University Summer Symposium on Science Communication Understanding the Role of Trust and Credibility in Science Communication

June 7-9, 2018; Ames, Iowa
Submission deadline: January 29, 2018

Trust and credibility are two critical heuristics that the public uses to interpret, evaluate and make decisions about complex, uncertain and controversial scientific information (Brossard and Nisbet, 2007; Pornpitakpan, 2004). Previous scholars have defined credibility as a multi-item construct that emerges from some combination of the audience’s perceptions of the source’s “trustworthiness” (character, honesty, believability) (McCroskey & Teven, 1999), “expertise” (qualifications, intelligence, authority, knowledge), and “goodwill” (caring, responsiveness, concern, empathy) (Teven, 2008). Though previous studies have described the importance of trust and credibility across several contexts, knowledge about these topics is widely dispersed across multiple fields, each with different definitions, measures and theoretical frameworks (National Academies of Sciences, 2016).

By bringing together an interdisciplinary team of scholars and practitioners to explore these constructs from multiple disciplinary perspectives, we seek to promote a deeper conversation that expands our understanding of the processes, definitions, discourses, outcomes and limitations of credibility and trust in the contexts of science, the environment, health, crisis and risk. While trust and credibility are broadly described as key components of public engagement, and collaborative decision-making, our goal is to promote a conversation that asks: How do publics, contexts, and discourses enable or constrain trust and credibility? How do trust and credibility emerge? When do trust and public perceptions of credibility encourage or delay public action (e.g., when a community member decides not to act because they trust the experts to do the work)? What are the relationships between credibility and trust on communities’ interpretations and receptivity to information and decision-making?

We invite contributions from relevant disciplines including communication, rhetoric, human dimensions of natural resources, planning, science and technology studies, history and philosophy of science, psychology, sociology, design, as well as from scientists who have been involved in science communication and broader impacts activities. A variety of approaches including conceptual analysis, case studies, humanistic, qualitative and quantitative methods is also encouraged. Possible foci include:

  • Defining trust and credibility and relationships between these multi-item constructs;
  • Exploring how credibility and trust vary depending on the communicator, the context, the audiences, and the mode of delivery. Identifying the factors that affect the trust and credibility of scientists and scientific understanding in science-related controversies;
  • Analyzing public perceptions of credibility when seeking out scientific information;
  • Conceptualizing new or alternative models or techniques for integrating approaches that enhance public perceptions of scientific credibility or build new pathways for trust and credibility using novel models of science communication design, implementation, and evaluation;
  • Understanding how trust and credibility emerge in both formal and informal learning and across curricula in secondary and higher education;
  • Developing interdisciplinary collaborations, partnerships and/or teams that integrate social science, design, and humanistic approaches to build trust, credibility and public engagement of science;

The following types of submissions are welcome:

Individual Abstracts for papers that engage the symposium theme. Please indicate the expected status of the work to be presented (from early overview to completed study); note that works in progress can be accepted. Word count: 250-500, with an additional 5-10 item bibliography. Abstracts should be prepared for blind review; include a separate cover page with authors’ affiliation and contact information.

Panel Proposals should focus on a unifying topic, content area, method, research question, etc. relevant to the symposium theme. Panels may consist of up to 4 presenters. Panel proposals should not exceed 1500 words and must contain the following: (1) Thematic title of the panel; (2) Names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and affiliations of all participants; (3) A brief rationale for the panel; (4) titles and brief abstracts of each presentation.

All submissions must be received before midnight on January 29, 2018. Attach the submission (title page and separate text) as .pdf or .doc files to an email addressed to Dara Wald.

Proceedings from the symposium will be published in print-on-demand and electronic formats. Instructions for the proceedings are available here: https://scicomm.las.iastate.edu/summer-symposia/instructions-for-proceedings/ For further information, contact Kathleen Hunt.

Program Planning committee: Program planning committee: Dara Wald and Kathleen Hunt (Iowa State University) with Jean Goodwin (North Carolina State) and Kajsa Dalrymple (University of Iowa).

Organizing committee: Michael Dahlstrom and Shuyang Qu (Iowa State University)