BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS GUIDE

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					BEST PRACTICES AND
RECOMMENDATIONS GUIDE
Acknowledgements
This document was written and produced by a consortium composed from:

                                       Conseil général de l'Essonne (France)
                                       Laure Chémery, Laurent Billia, Maryline Seemann


                                       CIREM (Spain)
                                       Diego Herrera ; Eszter Papp, Clara Créixams




                                       Glasgow Caledonian University (United Kingdom)
                                       Birgit Schroeter, Andrew Quinn, Anna McGee,



                                       SA Noored Teaduses ja Ettevõtluses (Estonia),
                                       Eero Elenurm


                                       University of Iceland (Iceland),
                                       Margret Sigurdardottir, Jon Gunnar
                                       Thorsteinsson, Einar Orn Thorvaldsson



                                       Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
                                       Ronald Smallenburg, Cees Koolstra




                                       Forum Democrit (Bulgaria)
                                       Ivo Dimitrov, Justine Toms



The consortium recognises and acknowledges the valuable support of the Advisory Group in
its activities and in this publication:

   • Yves Jeanneret, professor Université d’Avignon (France)

   • Carl Koppeschaar, senior science communication consultant and journalist
     (Netherlands)
                                                            Table of contents

     CHAPTER 1: Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 5
        1.        Young People and Science on the Web (YOSCIWEB) .......................................................... 5
        2.        Aims of this Guide ............................................................................................................................. 6
     CHAPTER 2: Methodology and Conclusions ......................................................................................... 7
        1.        Key Research Questions of the YOSCIWEB project .............................................................. 7
        2.        Main Conclusions .............................................................................................................................. 7
        3.        Definition of Key Concepts ............................................................................................................ 8
             A popular scientific website (PSW) is:............................................................................................ 8
             Website ....................................................................................................................................................... 8
             Young people ............................................................................................................................................ 9
             Localization ............................................................................................................................................... 9
        4.        Project methods ................................................................................................................................. 9
        5.        Limitations ........................................................................................................................................ 11
             A.      Regarding the terminology and the concepts .................................................................. 11
             B.      Regarding the panel of experts .............................................................................................. 11
             C.      Regarding the samples of websites ...................................................................................... 11
             D. Regarding the samples of young people ............................................................................ 12
             E.      Regarding the children’s analysis ......................................................................................... 12
             F.      Regarding some technical difficulties ................................................................................. 12
             G.      Regarding the call ....................................................................................................................... 12
        6.        Tools .................................................................................................................................................... 13
        7.        Relevance to stakeholders .......................................................................................................... 13
     CHAPTER 3: Best practices and recommendations for science websites .............................. 15
        1.        Image of science and scientists ................................................................................................. 15
        2.        Content ............................................................................................................................................... 20
             A.      Text design .................................................................................................................................... 20
             B.      Identity ............................................................................................................................................ 21
             C.      Credibility ...................................................................................................................................... 22
             D. Information ................................................................................................................................... 23
             E.      Relevance ....................................................................................................................................... 25


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            F.     School homework demands .................................................................................................... 26
            G.     Visual design ................................................................................................................................. 26
            H. Multimedia..................................................................................................................................... 28
            I.     Alternative ways to content .................................................................................................... 30
            J.     Navigation ...................................................................................................................................... 31
       3.        Visual appeal .................................................................................................................................... 34
       4.        Usability ............................................................................................................................................. 35
       5.        Interactivity ...................................................................................................................................... 37
     CHAPTER 4: Advice to Policy Makers and other Stakeholders .................................................. 40
       1.        Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 40
       2.        Public policy making: options and advice ............................................................................ 40
       3.        Additional options for consideration ..................................................................................... 42
       4.        Other stakeholders ........................................................................................................................ 43
     Appendix A: Questionnaires for an in-depth Website Analysis ................................................. 45
       1.        Image of science .............................................................................................................................. 45
       2.        Image of scientists ......................................................................................................................... 47
       3.        Website characteristics................................................................................................................ 49
     Appendix B: Practical methodology of the implementation of the focus group sessions 57
       5.        The composition of the focus groups ..................................................................................... 57
       6.        Organization of the sessions ...................................................................................................... 57
            A.     Location .......................................................................................................................................... 57
            B.     Permission ..................................................................................................................................... 57
            C.     Badges ............................................................................................................................................. 57
            D. Facilitators and duration.......................................................................................................... 58
            E.     Timing.............................................................................................................................................. 58
       7.        The sessions ..................................................................................................................................... 58
            A.     Introduction – “ice-breaker” ................................................................................................... 58
            B.     Exploration of the websites .................................................................................................... 58
            C.     Closing discussion ....................................................................................................................... 59
       8.        Preparation for the sessions ...................................................................................................... 59
       9.        Questionnaire for the participant to analyse the websites ............................................ 61




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                                  CHAPTER 1: Introduction

     1. Young People and Science on the Web (YOSCIWEB)

     The YOSCIWEB project has been set up to analyze how popular scientific web sites construct
     and renew the image science and scientists among young people in Europe as there are
     concerns that this image is not very positive and causes young people to steer away from
     careers in science.
     The YOSCIWEB consortium proposed to study how this image of science and scientists is
     being transmitted through the Internet, which is an increasingly popular medium among
     young people. The objective was to see how science and scientists were portrayed and how
     young people perceived these images. Based on the results of the analysis, the partners
     propose recommendations to science communicators on how to improve the images of
     science and scientists on websites.

     The consortium consists of seven organisations from France, Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, the
     United Kingdom, Iceland and the Netherlands. As the consortium partners are a mix of
     operators of scientific websites and/or researchers analysing websites, it provided a set of
     competences on a European scale. Three partners are editing a website dedicated to science
     communication:

        • Forum Democrit (Sofia, Bulgaria), editing Forum Democrit and Green Democrit:
              o http://www.democrit.com
        • Haskoli Islands (University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland) editing the Icelandic Web of
          science:
              o http://www.visindavefur.is
        • Conseil général de l’Essonne (General council of Essonne, Evry, France), editing la
          Banque des savoirs:
              o http://www.savoirs.essonne.fr

     The other four partners are specialized in (doing research on) the relationship between
     young people and science:

        • Glasgow Caledonian University, United-Kingdom, specialized in psychology,
        • Sihtasutus Noored Teaduses ja Ettevõtluses, Tallinn, Estonia (Youth in Science and
          Business Foundation), specialized in young people and innovation,
        • Fundacio Cirem, Barcelona, Spain, specialized in the question of gender and science.
        • VU (Vrije Universiteit, Faculty of Social Sciences, Amsterdam, Netherlands).

     The methodology used by the consortium is described in the Introduction of this document



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     Information on the YOSCIWEB project can be found on www.YOSCIWEB.eu, including six
     newsletters in the project’s languages.

     This project is fully funded with a grant of €500.000 by the European Commission (EC), under
     the 7th Framework Program (FP7) for Research, Technological Development and
     Demonstration activities and the 2007 project call entitled the “Image of science” (within
     Capacities, Science in Society, Strengthening the future). The project started in March 2008
     and was finished in March 2010.

     An Advisory Council consisting of Prof. Yves Jeanneret from the University of Avignon,
     France, and Mr. Carl Koppeschaar, an independent, senior science journalist and
     communication expert from Haarlem, the Netherlands, was so kind to value the work of the
     consortium members and to give their advice on request as well as unrequested.

     2. Aims of this Guide

       I.   Which are the best practices when trying to make science and scientific careers more
            attractive to young people?
      II.   Which are the best practices in communicating scientific information and knowledge
            to young people through the Internet?

     This Guide is designed to assist you in searching for answers to the above questions. It
     represents a set of best practices and recommendations on the most effective ways to
     increase the attractiveness of science and scientific careers to young people by means of
     Internet.

     A summary of all best practice recommendations can be found in Chapter 3 of this
     document.




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                       CHAPTER 2: Methodology and Conclusions

    1. Key Research Questions of the YOSCIWEB project

        1.   How do young people perceive the image of science and scientists?
        2.   How is the image of science and scientists being portrayed on the Internet?
        3.   How could science being made more attractive on the internet for young people?

     The project aims to answer these questions.

    2. Main Conclusions

        I.   Literature search and our focus group interviews show that negative stereotypical
             perceptions of science and scientists dominate. These views discourage science
             uptake at school and therefore contribute to a greater ignorance of science. The
             stereotypical perceptions are particularly detrimental for girls and for young people
             from lower socio-economic background who do not perform well – and do not
             expect to perform well - at science subjects.
      II.    The Internet does not seem to improve this negative stereotypical perception of
             science and scientists. With a few exceptions, most popular scientific websites
             (PSWs) among the 60 selected showed the stereotype image of science and male
             scientists. This stereotype is an older male, usually in a white coat and sometimes
             reminds us of a mad scientist. They did not inform the young people how to become
             a scientist. As a result the children claimed that most of these websites would not
             make them interested in pursuing science careers themselves. Some websites use
             counter stereotypes, such as a young attractive woman. Whether such images are
             positive or not cannot be determined here. Furthermore, while children of today in
             our countries increasingly visit the Internet, turning it into the most important
             medium for the 21st century, they predominantly do this for social reasons. The most
             popular websites or web facilities used in the social domain being social networking,
             communication, games and sites that allow to download and share videos. Search
             engines and online encyclopaedias and dictionaries are frequently being used for
             school work. Google, You Tube, Facebook and Wikipedia dominate.
      III.   The young people did however make very clear what they did and did not like about
             the 60 selected European popular scientific websites. Based on our interviews and
             the set of four variables (content, visual appeal, usability and interactivity), we have
             composed a list of important features as mentioned by the young people from 12 to
             17 years old. See Appendix B.

     In short, the Internet does provide additional value for young visitors when it comes to
     science and science careers. The YOSCIWEB project however, also makes clear that PSWs are

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     not the only manner to link young people with science on the Internet. Other ways for young
     people to learn about science are web based encyclopaedias like Wikipedia, popular video
     sites like YouTube which has a vast amount of science experiments and of course the search
     engines that tie the information on the Internet together.

     3. Definition of Key Concepts

     From the very beginning of the YOSCIWEB project it was clear to the experts involved that
     the scope of their study was fairly large. Terms like ‘science’, ‘young people’, and ‘popular
     scientific websites’ are broad topics that require distinctive and pragmatic definitions.

     Definitions were provided in the course of implementing particular project tasks to prevent
     discrepancies in interpretations of the key concepts between the partners. The definition of
     these key concepts was mainly obtained through the examination of existing research.

     It is essential to note that the sample of websites for description and in-depth analysis was
     chosen by the experts through four sets of criteria that constitute the key concepts of the
     analysis.

     The four sets of criteria are the following:

     A popular scientific website (PSW) is:
            •   About science, i.e. mono and/or multidisciplinary, including social sciences and
                humanities and thus relevant to the state of the art definition of ‘science’ in
                science-in-society context, and more particularly to the ‘more restricted sense’ of
                the term according to which: “science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge
                based on the scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge
                gained through such research.” (Rocard Report, 2007, p. 6);
            •   Meant to reach the general or lay audience, hence not the scientists, specialists
                and/or professionals in the respective disciplinary domain or topic of the website;
            •   Open or accessible to everybody on its home page, i.e. no passwords nor log-in
                names are required except for chat sessions and forum discussions;


     Website
             The PSWs contain at least five pages of content of their own, both in substance and
             by their own editing. Setting up the minimum of five web pages the experts decided
             to exclude from this study web portals thus focusing on all standard and emerging
             website tools and niches of original content generation.




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     Young people
            The PSWs analyzed aim inclusively at young people between 12 and 18 years old. This
            means that a website meant for people between 9 and 99 years was included in the
            study, whereas a website exclusively aimed at children aged between 8 - 12 years
            was excluded.


     Localization
             PSWs’ providers of the analyzed websites are located within the YOSCIWEB partner
             countries. For pragmatic reasons, in the interest of aiming at quality rather than
             quantity of intended outcomes, the YOSCIWEB partners decided to exclude websites
             in the international languages that were hosted outside the partner countries.

     Further definitions:
     Scientists: people using scientific knowledge in their work and/or people working in the area
     of the scientific research.

     Images of science and scientists: includes both pictorial and non-pictorial representations of
     scientists and science. Non-pictorial representation of science and scientists can for instance
     be given by the use of very specific language by scientists (such language gives the image
     that science is a separate area from the other fields of activities) or the use of very difficult
     words or concepts (that can transmit the image that science is a very difficult field and that
     scientists are difficult to understand).

     4. Project methods

     This guide is the final outcome of the analysis completed by the YOSCIWEB consortium. The
     project’s major steps and milestones can be sketched as follows:

     1) Examining existing research regarding science communication to young people through
     the Internet. The YOSCIWEB partners analyzed relevant research available in the field to
     enable them to add to the already existing body of work and to identify potential challenges
     to methodological approach, thus establishing a good scientific footing for the studies
     conducted within the framework of the project. The Consortium thus created a
     comprehensive literature review of existing research in the field and developed grids, based
     on these findings, to be able to do further in-depth analysis. The main finding of the
     literature review was that there has been relatively little research undertaken specifically
     about the impact of science websites designed for young people. YOSCIWEB intends to fill
     this gap by mapping the scientific landscape and through identifying best practices and
     innovations, favoured positively, by young audiences when using science-related websites.

     2) Mapping the landscape of science-oriented websites in each of the partner countries.
     Compiling a description of the national PSW landscape has helped the YOSCIWEB expert


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     group to identify the overall situation of popular scientific websites in participating
     countries. Because of the vast differences in population numbers between the countries, the
     amount of relevant websites per country differs quite substantially. To ensure the quality of
     their analysis the YOSCIWEB consortium limited their analysis to 10 popular scientific
     websites per country. The PSWs were selected in the all 7 participating European countries
     using the predefined criteria and a preliminary grid that focused on the general
     characteristics as well the special features of the selected sites. The data were mainly
     gathered by visiting and thoroughly reading the scientific websites. If some information was
     not available publicly, the partners tried to collect the relevant information by contacting the
     provider(s) of the website. A total of 60 websites were described in the framework of the
     project.

     3) Evaluating existing scientific websites and determining different technical as well as
     content-related techniques used by the selected websites. The partners constructed a set of
     rating scales in order to measure and compare the image of science and scientists on
     different websites in a systematic and consistent way. The rating scale for image of science
     included 11 attributes and the rating scale for image of scientists included 15 attributes. The
     rating scales were based on a 5-point Likert scale. This can be seen in Appendix A. A
     comprehensive grid of analysis of selected websites was developed in conformity with the
     findings of the previous analysis and existing research. This grid included 111 features
     considered important for a scientific website, which were combined into 4 main categories
     (Content, Visual appeal, Usability, Interactivity). The grid of features helped the partners to
     profile selected popular scientific websites from various countries in a unified manner. The
     grid included two kinds of scales for judgment (5-point Likert scale or yes/no scale
     depending on the type of question) and remarks to justify and explain the judgments made.
     In order to maximize convergence of judgments, of consortium partners, the final grid was
     tested by all partners on a selected international website. The grid can be seen in Appendix
     A.

     4) Conducting focus group discussions with young people from 12-18 in order to determine
     how young people use and perceive scientific websites. The YOSCIWEB partners identified
     the target audience whose perceptions and opinions of scientific websites should be
     analyzed as young people from 12 to 18 years of age. The criteria used to select the focus
     groups were based on social diversity – i.e. educational level, gender and socio-economic
     status. Each partner undertook eight focus group sessions, each with nine children. The
     groups were divided into- younger age groups (12-14 years) and older groups (15-17 years).
     In the younger groups there were three 12 year olds, three 13 year olds and three 14 year
     olds. In the older groups there were three 15 year olds, three 16 year olds and three 17 year
     olds. All 9 children in any group were of the same gender and of the same socio-economic
     status (SES). The YOSCIWEB partners conducted 81 focus groups with a total of 464
     participants in 7 European countries, which provided them with good insight into children’s
     perception of science and scientists and their preferences for scientific websites and

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     websites in general. The young people were asked to evaluate different traits of 3 scientific
     websites, selected from the group of websites analyzed by the YOSCIWEB partners, by
     answering questionnaires. The questionnaires provided an interesting set of data to analyse
     percentage agreements between children's and adults' evaluation of the sites, differences
     between boys and girls, high SES and low SES children and between the two age groups.
     Important information was also obtained from open group-discussions about the good and
     bad traits of the selected websites as well as websites in general, and about the children’s’
     perception of science and scientists. The focus group questionnaires can be seen in Appendix
     B.

     5. Limitations

     During the course of the project some limitations to the methodology were revealed.

        A. Regarding the terminology and the concepts
     The diversity of the partners and the countries involved in the project revealed a difference
     in the partners understanding of certain key concepts of the project, such as “popular
     scientific websites”, “images”, “scientists” or even “sciences”. The consortium decided to
     make allowances for this diversity and thus maintain the broadest interpretation of these
     concepts. The key concepts are defined here before in this Introduction.

        B. Regarding the panel of experts
     Each partner analyzed the websites selected in their country, including their own website for
     four of the partners. This can lead to bias, either because partners saw their own website in
     a more positive way than others or because they were too hard on themselves when trying
     not to be biased. Moreover, some of the partners are experts in science communication and
     may therefore have very high expectations of what constitutes as a good science website.
     These partners may therefore have been harder in their judgments of the websites.

     Different people will assess the same websites differently. Since the same group of people
     did not assess all the websites, results will differ due to individual perceptions. To minimize
     this as much as possible, all groups assessed a single website to begin with and different
     views were, at least in some way, normalized and uniformed with notes and further
     explanations to each question or statement. See Appendix A.

        C. Regarding the samples of websites
     The sample of websites, selected by the partners, is not homogeneous between countries.
     Some partners selected all the scientific websites available in their countries that met the
     selection criteria, while others had to choose from hundreds of websites that fulfilled these
     same criteria. This meant that some partners selected the websites based on, for example,
     the editors of the websites (websites edited by a science centre, a research institution, a
     scientific newspaper etc.) and others on the topics of the websites (multidisciplinary,


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     specialised topics in human sciences, natural history, health etc.). Portals or websites
     counting less than 5 pages were completely excluded from the sample.

     This heterogeneity leads, on the one hand, to a good description of the variety of scientific
     websites edited in Europe but, on the other hand, it lessens the value of the comparisons
     that can be made between the national samples.

        D. Regarding the samples of young people
     While partners did their best to recruit complete samples, this could not always be fully
     achieved within the time-scales provided. As a consequence, there is an occasional lack of
     data that leads to unequal proportions of boys and girls, high or low SES children or children
     of different ages. This lessens the reliability of the statistical comparisons that can be made
     between the groups.

     Another limitation is the vast difference in the social culture between the partner countries.
     This led to a considerable variety between the countries in the criteria for selecting children
     with either high or low socio-economic status. To minimise these effects the criteria for the
     selection process was well defined beforehand in each partner country. The criteria could be
     geographical (rural vs. urban), territorial (areas concentring or not on social/economic
     /educative help), familial (education of the parents) or economic (percentage of pupils
     having free lunch).

        E. Regarding the children’s analysis
     The very fact that the study was conducted within schools might have inadvertently focused
     the children's answers on school, making them think about science in school rather than
     everyday science around them. The question remains whether the same answers would
     have been obtained had the study been conducted in a different context.

        F. Regarding some technical difficulties
     Due to the project guidelines, the analysis of the results had to be performed within a tight
     time-schedule, necessitating the creation of techniques to reduce data complexity in order
     to achieve a fair coverage of the outcomes. Consequently, the analysis is less rich than the
     data allows and further and deeper analysis may be conducted in the future.

     There were also some difficulties with some of the selected websites closing or changing
     dramatically during the duration of the project.

        G. Regarding the call
     During the implementation of the project, both through the study of the bibliography and
     while conducting the focus groups, the consortium faced the fact that contrary to what was
     stated in the call, young people do not have a very negative image of sciences and scientist.
     In some cases they are even very positive. The consortiums perception was that the problem



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     was not exactly the image of science or even of scientist but rather the relationship between
     science and school curriculum.

     6. Tools

     The project developed some tools to evaluate scientific websites which may be useful for
     editors and creators of scientific websites to be able to analyse and evaluate their own
     websites.

     These tools consist of three grids. One focusing on analysing the image of science portrayed
     by the website, the second one the image of scientists and the third one focuses on the
     features of the website itself. Lastly a protocol was made for how to have focus groups
     evaluate the websites. Although originally conceived for young people this enquiry can be
     adapted for use with other focus groups such as teachers for example.

     7. Relevance to stakeholders

     This Guide represents the focal point of all outcomes of the YOSCIWEB project and can be
     beneficial to a wide range of social actors interested in communicating science. Referring to
     the recently published report of the MASIS Expert Group setup by the European
     Commission, “Challenging Futures of Science in Society”, we can give an outline of the
     stakeholders to whom this Guide can serve as a valuable tool.

            The European Commission is the primary stakeholder in the Science in Society area
     as the funding agency for implementing the Framework Programmes. The decision to fund
     the YOSCIWEB project clearly indicates that the Commission explicitly anticipated the
     conclusion of the MASIS report that “the Internet is a pervasive research tool for science
     news and information”.

            Policy makers – local governments, ministries, state agencies, political parties, etc. –
     are traditionally responsible for taking key decisions and providing resources to ensure the
     development of public research institutions at a national level. These social actors cannot
     afford to underestimate the growing importance of the Internet as a medium for
     implementing their policies, taking into account the actual and possible public concerns
     about the roles and impact of science in society.

            Science communicators are strongly advised by the MASIS Expert Group to take the
     advantage of the whole range of web 2.0 tools in order to incorporate them in Public
     Understanding of Science and especially in Public Engagement in Science activities, thus
     challenging the predominant quasi-marketing 'transmission mode' of communicating
     science. According to the experts, through extensive use of collaborative technologies such
     as blogs and wikis, scientists are “bypassing traditional ways of doing science communication
     without intermediary actors, and in a two way interaction”.



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            Educators as primary and high school teachers are crucial stakeholders of the science
     in society field, especially when it comes to science education, popularization of science,
     equity and ethical aspects of science. It is beyond any question that Internet technologies
     provide powerful tools for pedagogical practices designed to reverse from mainly deductive
     to inquiry-based science education methods.

            Private industry is a very important stakeholder in the science in society area,
     especially regarding the EU Lisbon Strategy (2000) and the Barcelona Agreement (COM
     2002) according to which the European private companies should increase their investment
     in research to at least two percent of national GDP by 2010.

             (Science) Journalists are the key social actors in science in society discourse who,
     according to Nature’s survey, are the first “victims” of “the unprecedented pressure from the
     Internet and the ongoing economic crisis”. An increasing number of journalists and scientists
     are using blogs to reach larger audiences on a daily basis. The MASIS Expert Group defines
     the media literacy as the new challenge for science journalism in the information overflow
     era, i.e. “how to increase people’s ability to find useful information, to judge what is reliable
     and relevant for them at that moment, to make sense of the sometimes conflicting
     information with which they are faced, and then to engage in communication and discussion
     when appropriate”.




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          CHAPTER 3: Best practices and recommendations for science
                                   websites

     The recommendations and best practices are based on the three main parts of the
     YOSCIWEB project. The parts are explained further in previous deliverables. Each part is
     colour coded for clarity.

            I. Expert observations: Based on in depth analysis of the websites by the YOSCIWEB
                 experts.
            II. Focus group observations: YOSCIWEB partners conducted focus group tests,
                 where young people evaluated websites and conveyed their perception of the
                 images of science and scientists.
            III. Recommendation: YOSCIWEB experts wrote down what they think are best
                 practices, based both on their own experience and findings of the project.

     In every category we identify the source of the recommendation, so users of this guide can
     read and implement them with that in mind. The categories were not the same for each
     group so missing data in categories should not be considered indifference by the group.
     Sections 3, 4 and 5 may seem a bit sparse, but keep in mind that the bulk of these overlap
     greatly with some of the subsections of section 2 (Content).



     1. Image of science and scientists

                                                                              EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     The general trend noted by the partners was the lack of pictorial and non-pictorial
     representation of scientists on the websites. Many of the websites instead of providing a
     pictorial representation of scientists portrayed science in a de-personalized context.

     Both stereotypes (Caucasian older men, sometimes wearing a white coat) and counter
     stereotypes (young women, perhaps doing outside work) of scientists were identified.

     Websites across Europe that do have some representations of scientist, show them in a
     positive light.

                                                                        FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Young people across Europe have a varied concept of how science could be defined. They
     have good understanding of science as a process.

     Stereotypical images of scientists are still strong among young people in Europe but children
     are generally aware when they are stereotyping.



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     European children in general seem to have an appreciation of what scientific work involves
     and understand that continuing education is needed to become a scientist. They show a
     certain disconnection from science as a possible career, failing to recognize or identify that
     they know scientists personally. Young people in Europe do not perceive science as an
     appealing career, but as a profession that is difficult to achieve and may require too many
     sacrifices. They are mainly interested in medical and biological fields of science as a potential
     career.

     Young people in Europe do not think that science websites show them who can become a
     scientist.

                                                                                     RECOMMENDATION

     Editors of science websites should keep in mind that the image of science and scientists is
     not very positive and do what they can to improve it. They should try to show a positive
     image (both in words and images) of science and scientists and show scientists from all walks
     of life doing a variety of jobs. Also, they should not just present the most famous scientists
     but try and show that scientists are just normal people. Websites can even show a glimpse
     into the private life of scientists. This can aid young people in seeing themselves as scientists.

     Many scientists are very passionate about their work. It is a good idea to put interviews and
     pictures of these scientists online to let their passion be an inspiration to young people.

     It is recommended to show real examples of the work scientists do on a day-to-day basis.
     This can provide young people a clearer idea of the work of a scientist. Not all scientists need
     to have a PhD; there are a multitude of jobs in science for people with different levels of
     education and training.

     Explanation of study and career possibilities for any particular science field can help young
     people to envisage the path to becoming a scientist in a clearer and more understandable
     way.




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                                                                                         EXAMPLE
     Here the job of a physicist is explained and also where it is possible to learn physics. The
     article also has information about potential employers as well as a video-clip about various
     items and real-life phenomena which physics deals with.
     (Estonia: http://www.fyysika.ee)




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                                                                                           EXAMPLE
     Here a website shows interviews with professors about their scientific heroes, introducing the
     public to actual scientists as well as presenting their role models.
     (Netherlands : http://www.volkskrant.nl)




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                                                                                           EXAMPLE
     Here a website displays images and personal profiles of young scientists (Bulgaria:
     http://green.democrit.com)




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     2. Content

    A. Text design
                                                                                EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most of the websites demonstrate a complete lack of sense of humour and imagination; it
     seems that they somehow restrict themselves in being creative and witty. There are few
     examples of entertaining and concise writing style and creative (metaphorical and not simply
     illustrative) use of images and pop icons. But the lack of entertainment can be compensated
     by simply radiating catching enthusiasm and genuine passion for science.

     Regarding the choice of vocabulary, most of the websites use simple words, with exceptions
     of websites using language potentially too dull or difficult for teenagers. This last case is
     related to specialised websites.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     The text on science websites should be informative without being too difficult to read or
     boring. Also, it should be age appropriate. It is recommended that the style of writing is kept
     at least somewhat entertaining and that images are used to dress up the text. Websites
     should communicate clearly and to the point. Spelling and grammar should be correct.

     All text, images, tables and figures should have headings or captions that can be read
     independently of the information provided in the text so that users can quickly determine
     the content without reading the whole text. Organization of the text should be clear on all
     pages not just the front-page. Clear organization can include easily readable chunks of text
     with appropriate space between paragraphs and perhaps images in between them. First
     impressions matter and with the ubiquity of search engines, the front page is not necessarily
     the first page users see.

     Articles on science websites can include a number of words that the reader is not familiar
     with. Having links inside or next to these words leading to explanations of terms can be very
     helpful. It should however be noted that too many links in the body of the text can be
     counterproductive as young people might find it hard to work out what the site itself
     actually says.




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                                                                                           EXAMPLE
     Playful, provocative, and concise writing style and creative use of images and pop icons make
     the text and material easier to read and more relatable.
      (Bulgaria: http://green.democrit.com)




    B. Identity
                                                                               EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     While in general, bigger organisations have more sophisticated websites, there are notable
     exceptions to this rule. Some small organizations or even individuals have very good
     websites and big and wealthy organizations working in science, having relatively poor
     scientific information on their websites.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     Identification of websites should be clear, whether it is in the domain name, title or design.
     Keep in mind that a lot of visitors come through search engines and they can leave quickly if
     they are not sure what the site is about, for whom and what they can expect to find on it.




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    C. Credibility
                                                                                EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     A lack of a sound editing process (no editorial charter, no mention of authorship, no editorial
     board) was recognised.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     Credibility of information presented on websites depends on the credibility of the editing
     institutions, the authors and the editorial board. References to these should be present with
     good information about their background, writings and education.

     Credibility can increase with the number of scientists taking part in creating material for the
     website.

                                                                                          EXAMPLE
     Here two screens of the same part of the website are displayed, showing firstly the CV of the
     journalist and secondly the CV of the scientist that are responsible for the article being
     viewed. Both CV’s are accessible directly through the article.
     (France: www.savoirs.essonne.fr)




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    D. Information
                                                                             EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     There are key differences in the delivered information between specialised websites and
     generalist websites. The first communicate scientific information, sometimes more in depth,
     but as a subject independent of human intervention; the second usually presents science as
     a contextualised activity and are more oriented towards presenting scientific news.

                                                                        FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Websites should have clear information and not use too specialised or difficult language. It
     should be useful; both interesting and relevant to schoolwork.

                                                                                RECOMMENDATION

     Authors on science websites need to write in a way that (young) people understand.
     Scientists can be used to write for their peers, but need to take a different approach when
     writing for the general public. It is recommended that the information presented is actual
     and accurate, preferably presented in a light style.

     Interesting pictures or figures can enhance the appeal of the content and provide a valuable
     visual representation of the subject.




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                                                                                          EXAMPLE
     Websites must give accurate information and present their material in a clear and
     understandable way. Visual representations like in this example are valuable to enhance the
     appeal and understanding of the subject.
     (Spain: www.madrimasd.org)




                                                                                          EXAMPLE
     In this example a good introductory presentation, in Flash, about genomics is used to
     enhance the appeal of the content and to provide a better representation of the material.
     (Estonia: http://www.ahhaa.ee)




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    E. Relevance
                                                                             EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most of the websites have a part dedicated to young people or more targeted audience (like
     secondary school student). There is no websites having gender sections or indexations. In
     the area of young people topics, some are very oriented toward schoolwork (see later), as
     some websites have an area dedicated to teachers.

                                                                       FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Websites should have interesting and relevant topics for young people. Information should
     be relevant to each age group.

                                                                               RECOMMENDATION

     It is recommended by experts that website content of science websites should relate, at
     least partially, to school curriculum of young people. Content should also be relevant with
     regard to age and gender and make sure this also applies to images and other multimedia, as
     well as links. Young people’s self image is that they know more and understand more than
     adults think. It is therefore important that content is not too childish.

                                                                                        EXAMPLE

     This website focuses on biology and biomedical sciences intended mainly for young students
     and their teachers.
     (Netherlands www.Bioplek.nl)




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    F. School homework demands
                                                                                EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Some websites present sections and topics categorised to correspond to school curriculum,
     with lesson plans (for teachers), material (for students or teachers).

                                                                          FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Topics on science websites should correspond to what young people learn in school.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     For young people, school-related tasks are often the motivation for searching scientific
     information. It is hence important that the content is relevant to these school tasks.
     Attracting visitors to a website with school-related information can be a good opportunity to
     entice the visitor to read more about science outside of his or her school needs. While not all
     sites want to work as homework related encyclopaedias, they can consider making a portion
     of the site behave in that way. Make sure not to give young people too much help with their
     homework, hints and directions are better suited to helping them study on their own.

     When designing a science website for young people, you should consider providing material
     for teachers. This way, teachers may find the website more useful and use it in their classes,
     encouraging children to engage with the website.



    G. Visual design
                                                                                EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most of the websites are aesthetical with good choice of colours and original decorations,
     plenty of photographs, pictures and graphics even if some websites show a lack on
     investment in science communication, with amateurish graphic design conceptions. A
     general trend is a kind of austerity, minimalism hiding sometimes to conservatism (see visual
     appeal).

                                                                          FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Websites should use colourful and interesting pictures and videos. Good layout is necessary.
     Pictures and animation should be used to break up the text.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     Experts recommend that websites should be visually attractive without being too flashy or
     crowded. They should have a clear design and navigation, be well organised, structured and
     respect the predominant design principles online. Remember that while young people like
     colours and images, they prefer neutral but efficient sites over a colourful messy one.

     Glaring adverts should be avoided as they can distract children and cause question to the
     purpose of the website.


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                                                                                           EXAMPLE
     Visually attractive websites that are not too flashy or crowded are preferred by young
     people.

     1: (UK: http:// www.nhm.ac.uk)




     2: (Estonia: www.fyysika.ee)




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    H. Multimedia
                                                                               EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     There is a lack of a wide variety of multimedia features on the websites and multimedia
     technologies are not being used to their full potential. The use of some multimedia features
     is fairly common among science websites across Europe but the general trend, identified by
     the partners, was that each website only used a very limited number of multimedia features.

     The variety of media used in a website generally depends on its size. The larger ones often
     provide videos, audio-documents and games or moving graphics explaining facts. Smaller
     ones mainly have static information (text + images).

                                                                         FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Websites should use games and other interactive features without overdoing it by using too
     many features. It is important that pictures, videos and other multimedia are colourful and
     not boring or bland.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     Use of multimedia is instrumental in creating a good science website. This can include
     quizzes, animations, drawings, films, interviews, sound bites as well as regular images or
     photographs.

     More advanced multimedia can also be used if appropriate, e.g. simulations of experiments,
     interactive presentations and educational games. This can be a quick and easy way to better
     understanding of various scientific phenomena.

     Some multimedia, like videos, also relies on different sensory skills than reading so they are
     useful to break up website’s emphasis on reading.




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                                                                                         EXAMPLE
     Games are helpful learning tools and can make learning fun and entertaining as this website
     demonstrates.
     (UK: http://www.scienceyear.com)




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                                                                                             EXAMPLE

     Videos rely on different sensory skills than reading so they are useful to break up text. They
     can also make the material easier to understand and more relatable.
     (Iceland: www.visindavefur.hi.is)




    I. Alternative ways to content
                                                                                 EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Web 2.0 technologies as RSS feeds are rarely offered on websites.

                                                                                    RECOMMENDATION

     There should be good alternative ways to get the content on websites, besides visiting the
     site itself. This can be in form of RSS-feeds, e-mail newsletters, social updates and more.
     That way, users do not have to go to the site itself; information comes to them. This
     correlates well with the way young people are using the Internet, as they tend to only look
     for information and not visit specific websites. These alternative ways should be relevant
     and content rich.




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                                                                                         EXAMPLE
     Using social networks as alternative ways to content is a good way to reach young people.
     (Iceland : www.stjornuskodun.is)




    J. Navigation
                                                                               EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most of the websites are professionally executed in terms of ease of navigation, simplicity
     and efficiency of organisation. Even if, in some case, due to the richness of the content, the
     classification can be to fine and, thus, homepages too long or presenting a too much
     information.

                                                                         FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Websites should be well organised with a well-structured menu, sitemap and links.

                                                                                  RECOMMENDATION

     Easy navigation is important, especially when it is kept in mind that young users may get lost
     more easily than adults. It should be clear and support users in finding the correct
     information fast. Categorisation should be good and perhaps targeted towards school
     subjects. While search engines, both on and off site, are becoming the most used method of
     finding information on the Internet, site navigation is still very important. Good navigation
     aids users in reading and learning about new things, not just things they were looking for in
     the first place.

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                                                                                             EXAMPLE
     In this website different sections are coded with different colour to provide easy navigation
     around the website, as can be seen on the two screens below displaying different sections of
     the same website.
     (UK: www.sciencemusuem.org.uk)




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     3. Visual appeal

                                                                               EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most scientific websites have a classic look; quiet and little bit austere colours with the
     content categorised and boxed. This simplicity and minimalism can seem conservative and
     may give the impression that science is a bit stiff and boring.



                                                                         FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Websites should use appealing colours. Pictures and animations should be used to break up
     the text. A good clear layout and quality content is important. Adverts and flashy graphics
     should be avoided.



                                                                                           EXAMPLE
     Bright designs and a well-structured menu and a good clear layout make the content more
     easily accessable and the website more visually appealing, thereby holding the interest of the
     user.

     1: (France: http://www.svjlesite.fr/)




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     2: (Spain: http:www.natureduca.com)




     4. Usability

                                                                            EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most of the websites are well structured with site maps. Bigger organisations usually have
     more sophisticated websites whereas smaller providers show a more linear website
     structure. But there are counter examples as some small individual websites feature mini-
     sites maps for specific sections.

                                                                      FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     While usability is not a top priority with young people, a well-structured menu and a good
     search engine are very important features in their opinion




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                                                                                     EXAMPLE
     A colour coded and image based menu enhances the website’s usability.
     (UK: http://www.peep.ac.uk)




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     5. Interactivity

                                                                             EXPERT OBSERVATIONS

     Most of the websites have interactive features (possibility of feedback, forums), others
     (more rarely) offers opinion pools, message boards, instant messaging, chat rooms, podcasts
     and blogging. But the top-down communication is still the most common.

     Science websites in Europe do not fully utilise the possibilities for interactivity and only
     incorporate few interactive features on their websites.

                                                                        FOCUS GROUP OBSERVATIONS

     Young people consider interactivity an important factor for the entertainment value of
     websites. Blogs and message boards are popular among young people and considered
     important.

     Young people across Europe like the social networking features on websites.

                                                                                RECOMMENDATION

     Science websites should try to incorporate interactive features to make the website more
     entertaining and accessible to young people.

     Science websites are recommended to use more social interactive elements that can be used
     to share information on scientific topics, both between young people themselves and
     between them and the editors of websites. Social networks and interactivity are becoming
     an increasingly popular use of the Internet and if science websites want to be popular with
     kids, they should utilise it to the full.

     Social interactivity can benefit both websites and their users; editors and scientist will
     probably be happy to hear from their readers.

     When using social interactivity, consider keeping it simple so that young people are sure to
     understand how it works. Also, make sure you do not let the interactive mediums become
     stale. An empty chat room and forums without new posts will make the website look dead.




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     EXAMPLE
     Interactive features can allow the user to be more active on the website. Good examples are
     to allow the users to do some research themselves, as in example 1, or by allowing them to
     submit questions or give them the option to e-mail articles to friends or post them on social
     network sites, as in example 2.

     1: (Estonia: http://www.fyysika.ee)




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     2: (Iceland: http://www.visindavefur.hi.is)




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          CHAPTER 4: Advice to Policy Makers and other Stakeholders
     1. Introduction

     To face the issue of the declining interest of young people studying and working in science
     and, more generally, to disseminate the results of science, governments, private industry
     and professional associations have developed a range of online initiatives and tools in the
     field of popular science.

     Popular scientific websites play an important role as Internet is a new medium well adopted
     by young people. Currently however, there is a lack of tools and methodology to analyse the
     quality of these websites properly and to reflect on their effectiveness regarding the
     perception of science among young people in Europe.

     The YOSCIWEB project nevertheless results in answers to three key questions in this field
     (see page 1) with policy impact for a range of stakeholders, predominantly the policy makers
     in public institutions, as they are the key organisations in the provision of resources for
     science communication and education. You will find our ideas and advice on science
     communication and education policy options here below.

     2. Public policy making: options and advice

     Public policy makers such as ministries and local governments in the field of science, science
     education and school education might develop a list of policy options, with a broader range
     than just initiating, encouraging and supporting the development of PSWs. We suggest a
     few options for consideration:

     Include popular science in online school curricula
     E-learning, online school work and educational programmes will become an increasing part
     of school and school work. Science or popular science could be an integrated part of these
     new curricula. The Internet is an excellent tool to continuously upgrade virtual school
     repositories with the latest science news and reports from popularised, reviewed and
     relevant research. Moreover, Internet’s interactive features like forum, blog, chat, online
     video, games and survey provisions makes it very well equipped for doing e-research
     together with school children. And, why not develop more ‘science games’ for e-learning?
     This option also requires new attitudes from educators and school book publishing houses.

     Use social networks for science
     Young people are predominantly interested in the social networking aspects of the Internet.
     This comes as no surprise, as most adults show the same interest on the Internet. (Source:
     Internet visits of networking sites). Consequently, popular science, news and e-research
     should be more integrated at Facebook, You tube and the like. Many initiatives in this
     respect have been taken already. Just to mention a few: Healthy Social by the Harvard
     Medical School and some European partners is an online network and questionnaire on


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     health care issues on Facebook becoming increasingly popular because it simple, fun and
     reliable. Also, in November 2009, there are 86.200 science experiments to watch on You
     Tube, many of them being very popular even though some of them are showing the stereo-
     typical scientist on screen.

     Incorporate search engines and Wikipedia in marketing strategies
     Since Google and Wikipedia are the prime Internet sources for home work, popular science
     should be easy to find via Google and well presented at Wikipedia. As a result, marketing
     strategies of popular science websites should focus on a good positioning in the Google
     database and be well presented with links at Wikipedia. Editors of popular science websites
     should be aware that articles on their own websites could be linked to items at Wikipedia.
     The same applies for positioning in Google and Google scholar, the first being the leading
     search engine and the latter beating many databases and libraries in terms of recall and
     relevance (source: Jared L. Howland ea. How Scholarly is Google Scholar? A comparison to
     library databases. College & Research Libraries 70(2009)3, 227-234), turning it into a major
     force for the audience and scientists to look for scientific information.

     Take into account the young people comments and experts’ recommendations
     In Chapter 2 we have drafted a list of recommendations based on the views of children and
     experts. As the YOSCIWEB project is unique of being one the first and very latest
     transnational research projects on popular science on the Internet, with a particular focus on
     the image of science and scientists on the Internet, it would be good to keep these views
     and recommendations in mind when policymaking on science on the Internet is at stake.

     We have composed this list of options in very general terms as this applies to popular
     science on the Internet in a general way. Policy makers and budget holders however, are
     faced with requests from universities for funding their popular science websites, decision
     making whether or not to support private initiatives or political wishes to counteract the
     negative stereotype of science and the scientists by means of Internet projects.

     What we suggest here is that the results of our YOSCIWEB project and the conclusions could
     be of help in weighing the different requests or the design of own public and private
     initiatives. In our view, funding conditions or terms of references should address these
     issues. Evaluations of current and future projects might take these options into account and
     we hope that project managers of popular scientific websites could profit from our findings.

     And, even though we are well aware that our findings and recommendations are based on
     research with regard to a limited number of 60 websites, in only seven European countries,
     and to be seen as a snapshot situation within the fast moving world of the Internet, we
     nevertheless strongly believe that the suggested options remain valid for a longer time than
     just the year 2009.




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     3. Additional options for consideration

     The YOSCIWEB consortium partners are all well experienced in science communication in
     different countries. They emphasise the importance of cooperation in this field, despite the
     fact that different languages and different political, educational and scientific environments
     are hampering in-depth ‘connections’.

     Nevertheless, there are a few options for international cooperation which might be taken
     into account by EU DG Research policy makers:

     Create a European science communication and education on line community for contacts, the
     exchange of general experiences, do’s and don’ts of project management, marketing tips,
     etc. This platform could be a basis for further cooperation among everyone involved in
     science communication and education: webmasters, science communicators, educators and
     journalists. It requires target group marketing and moderation in several European
     languages by an all-European body, privately or publicly organised.

     Provide translation services in the content field. Of course, with the exception of articles in
     English, and to a far lesser extent in Spanish, French and German, the exchange of articles,
     videos, science games, etc. in different languages does not make much sense unless there
     have been translated. Therefore, the provision of a translation service would be very
     welcome. It is beyond the scope of this study to outline this in detail, but suggestions here
     include developing a database for content collection and translation into English and
     settlement of copyright issues as key elements.

     Create a platform for the exchange of tools and illustrations. More international and ‘ex-
     changeable’ are videos, illustrations, graphics, web quests and educational tools, the
     development of which requires substantial investments. What could be considered is
     developing an international (not just European) platform for the provision and redistribution
     of tools illustrations, including the settlement of copyright issues.

     Last but not least: create a ‘science plaza’ for the citizens of Europe. After all, they are the
     main target group. This ‘science plaza’ is an online platform where they, the people of
     Europe, learn about science and interact with each other and with scientists on all kind of
     science related issues such as: nuclear energy, nano technology, climate change,
     pharmaceutical research, psychology, etc. people from outside Europe are of course
     welcome to join. It should be an open platform, well moderated and attractive in term of
     illustrations, graphics, latest news and an independent appearance, with an international
     board of governors consisting of young and promising scientists.




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     4. Other stakeholders

     For science communicators the ‘best practice’ recommendations of this study are to be
     found in Chapter 2. These practical recommendations suggest a refocusing of objectives and
     as a consequence thereof, a reallocation of resources for science communication, online and
     in general. With the Internet becoming an ever more dominant medium, communication
     officers at universities might change their priorities from school brochures to science-online.
     Science centre managers could extend their exhibits to online tools, preferably by two-way
     interaction, in order to establish relationships with schools, the children and their parents,
     longer than a single visit. In short, science communicators are encouraged to incorporate
     web 2.0 tools in communication and education activities thus challenging the predominant
     'transmission mode' of communicating science by brochures and exhibitions.

     Science journalists are at the forefront of all these developments. An increasing number of
     journalists and scientists are using websites, blogs, Wikipedia and Facebook to reach larger
     audiences. As science intermediaries, they have to reinvent their position in a new era of
     direct access to information for everybody and information overflow: “how to increase
     people’s ability to find useful information, to judge what is reliable and relevant for them at
     that moment, to make sense of the sometimes conflicting information with which they are
     faced, and then to engage in communication and discussion when appropriate” (source: the
     MASIS Expert Group). For them, the practical recommendations of our study are most
     useful.

     Educators are increasingly using the Internet in school. Primary and high school teachers are
     crucial stakeholders of the science in society field, with an important role as ‘gatekeepers’ to
     reliable Internet sources. Whereas initially, Internet was an addition to the traditional school
     methods, it increasingly will become a central element of modern teaching, because for
     young people it is their first source of information. Here again, interactive web 2.0 tools
     provide powerful tools for pedagogical practices designed to reverse from mainly deductive
     to inquiry-based science education methods. This study shows some examples of successful
     e-research related websites for young people. Therefore, educators, publishers and science
     and education policy makers should work together in order to developing jointly new school
     methods which are fully integrating science, research and education on web 2.0 based
     platforms.

     The private industry is a very important stakeholder in the science in society area, especially
     since the EU Lisbon Strategy (2000) and the Barcelona Agreement (COM 2002) according to
     which the European private industry should increase their research investments. In this
     study we have seen a few examples of initiatives, some of which were the online off-shoot
     from commercial magazines. Others were related to industrial companies aiming to provide
     online information on their research activities. In general, the recommendations for popular
     science websites and our advice to policy makers are also meant for private companies,
     aiming to start or improve their activities.

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     For the industry as for other stakeholders, the image of science is as relevant as it is for the
     whole society. Europe needs science, with the Public Understanding of Science (PUS) and the
     Public Engagement in Science (PES) as key elements of science in society. In the 21st century,
     the Internet will increasingly become the main tool for PUS and PES. We hope that this study
     has shown some new insight how to apply that tool.




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           Appendix A: Questionnaires for an in-depth Website Analysis
     1. Image of science
     Attribute         Question               Answer

     Relevance         Does the site show     not relevant a little       normal       quite          very          N/A
                       you if science is                   relevant                    relevant       relevant
                       important to your
                       life?

     Core Activities   Does the site make     to be          tedious      OK           stimulating    inspiring     N/A
                       you interested in      avoided if
                       doing science          possible
                       yourself?

     Real world        Does the site show     remote from not directly    some         fairly         very          N/A
     significance      you if science is      reality     related to      connection   significant    significant
                       important to                       real world      with real    activity       activity
                       society?                           issues          world

     Values            When you visit this    very           negative     average      positive       very positive N/A
                       site, what values      negative
                       does it transmit -
                       does it suggest that
                       scientists work for
                       the good / for the
                       good of society or
                       for more selfish
                       benefits such as
                       greed or power?

     Ethics            Does science on this not at all       not really   neutral      yes            completely    N/A
                       site appear as
                       respectful towards
                       human beings,
                       animals and nature?

     Maths /           Do you need to      no maths /        some maths Normal         a lot of       all maths /   N/A
     formulae          know a lot of maths formulae          / formulae                maths /        formulae
     content           or formulae to                                                  formulae
                       understand this
                       site?

     Autonomy          Do scientists choose   completely     a little     both equally mostly free,   completely    N/A
                       what to work on or     subject to     freedom                   but with       free
                       do they have to        others’                                  constraints
                       follow others’         orders
                       orders?



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     Attribute     Question                Answer

     Research      Does the website
                   present science
                   mainly as a research
                   activity (topic of
                   research) or only
                   results?

     Job           Does the website
                   present the science
                   as an activity
                   (carers, formation,
                   type of activity to
                   do, relationships in
                   the lab, teaching,
                   publishing…)?

     Global view   Does the website
                   present all the faces
                   of science (even the
                   problematic ones
                   like ethic, economic,
                   honesty?)




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     2. Image of scientists
     Attribute      Question             Answer

     Apparition     Does the website Very                 Frequent Some         Rare       No             N/A
                    present      pictorial frequent       apparition apparition apparition scientists
                    image of scientists? apparition

     Interviews     Does the website Lot of quotes        Frequent    Some        Few quote No quote      N/A
                    present citation of                   quote       quote
                    scientists
                    (interviews      or
                    extract          of
                    interviews)?



     At work        Does the website Lot             of   Frequent    Some        Few         No          N/A
                    show work places of working           working     working     working     working
                    scientists             situation
                                                          situation   situation   situation   situation
                    (laboratory,
                    terrain…)          and
                    scientists in action?

     Careers        Does the website Lot           of     Frequent Some         Few        No         N/A
                    give     information information      informatio informatio informatio informatio
                    about       scientific
                                                          n          n          n          n
                    courses?

     Behaviour      Are they mad or insane                very      mildly    eccentric       normal      N/A
                    normal?                               unusual   unusual   but
                                                          behaviour behaviour harmless

     Intelligence   How intelligent are not               less than normal        intelligent brilliant   N/A
                    they?               intelligent       normal
                                                          intelligenc
                                                          e

     Age            Are they young or mostly old          more old both           more        mostly      N/A
                    old people?                           than                    young       young
                                                          young                   than old

     White coat     What do they wear? never wear a       often wear sometimes mostly      always     N/A
                                       white coat         a    white wear     a wear     a wear     a
                                                          coat       white coat white coat white coat

     Special        Do they use special always            often       sometimes rarely        never       N/A


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     Attribute        Question              Answer

     instruments      instruments?

     Personal style   Are they tidy?        very untidy     a      little normal    quite tidy   always    N/A
                                                            untidy                               tidy

     Sex              Are there more men mostly             more         either     more men mostly        N/A
                      or women among women                  women                   than     men
                      scientists?
                                                            than men                women

     Ethnicity        Where do         they all Caucasian   mostly    few other     some         wide       N/A
                      come from?            appearance      Caucasian ethnic        other        range of
                                                                      groups        ethnic       ethnic
                                                                      included      groups       groups
                                                                                    included     represente
                                                                                                 d

     Clothing style   Do they look stylish? no    dress     dresses      dresses OK mostly       always    N/A
                                            sense           oddly                   dresses      well
                                                                                    well         dressed

     Economic         Are they     well-off poor            less         normal     quite        rich      N/A
     status           people?                               money                   wealthy
                                                            than
                                                            normal

     Prestige         Are they important not at all         not really   neutral    important very      N/A
                      people   for   the                                                      important
                      society?

     Motivation       Are       scientists’ no ambition     mildly    normal      mildly    very      N/A
                      ambitious people? whatsoever          ambitious aspirations ambitious ambitious




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      3. Website characteristics


                                                  CONTENT
                                                                    Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                     this criterion help the website be
                                                                      more efficient for improving the
                   Identity                       Answer            image of science and scientists and
                                                                           communicating science

                      User is able to
                      quickly determine
     First look                              Y       N      N/A
                      the basic content of
                      the website

                       The purpose of the
                      website and the
                      target audience are
     Purpose                                 Y       N      N/A
                      clearly indicated on
                      the home page or
                      'about us' page



                      The website provide
                      information that is
   Localisation                              Y       N      N/A
                      localized as much as
                      possible at the
                      national level



                      The website offers a
 Internationalizati
                      Multilanguage          Y       N      N/A
        on
                      option



                                                                    Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                     this criterion help the website be
                  Credibility                     Answer              more efficient for improving the
                                                                    image of science and scientists and
                                                                           communicating science
                      The editor/editors
 Editor's             are experts in
                                             Y       N      N/A
   competences        science and/or use
                      scientific advice

                      The editor/editors
                                             Y       N      N/A
                      are experts in
                      science


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                   communication
                   and/or journalism

                   You can easily find
                   out more about the
                   author (CV or
                   personal website), as
   Authorship      well as contact          Y       N      N/A
                   information (e-mail,
                   phone, fax, or mail)
                   so that to verify or
                   clarify information

                   The sponsor of the
    Sponsor        site is clearly          Y       N      N/A
                   identified

                   The science news of
                   website are properly     Y       N      N/A
                   updated

                   The content is clearly
     Currency                               Y       N      N/A
                   dated
  (Frequency of
     updates)      Copyright date or
                   date website was
                                            Y       N      N/A
                   established is easy to
                   determine

                   Additional resource
   References                               Y       N      N/A
                   links are included

                                                                   Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                    this criterion help the website be
              Information                        Answer              more efficient for improving the
                                                                   image of science and scientists and
                                                                          communicating science
                   The content of this
                   website is well          Y       N      N/A
                   organized

                   There are headings
                   and subheadings on
   Information     the page which are       Y       N      N/A
     structure     attractive and
                   helpful

                   The text is specially
   Information
                   designed in order to     Y       N      N/A
      design       facilitate reading
                   process and to


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                     maintain user's
                     attention and
                     positive attitude
                     (e.g. via
                     bolded/highlighted
                     key words; bulleted
                     lists; short
                     paragraphs; a lot of
                     hyperlinks, etc.)

                     Information is useful
                     for the target            Y       N      N/A
                     audience.

 Relevance      of   The target audience
 information         can easily
                     understand the            Y       N      N/A
                     information on the
                     website

                                                                      Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                       this criterion help the website be
               Relevance                            Answer              more efficient for improving the
                                                                      image of science and scientists and
                                                                             communicating science
                     The content is
                     separated into
                     gender specific
     Gender                                    Y       N      N/A
                     sections (e.g. 'girls
                     only' or 'boys only'
                     sections)

                     The content is
                     separated into age
       Age           specific sections (e.g.   Y       N      N/A
                     'kids', 'teen' or
                     'adults' sections)

                     The text is written in
                     the simplest and
 Literacy level of
                     most familiar words       Y       N      N/A
       text
                     with target audience
                     in mind

                     The content of
                     linked sites is
      Link           worthwhile and
                                               Y       N      N/A
 appropriateness     appropriate to target
                     audience's
                     needs/purposes



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   Entertaining      Author's style is
                                            Y       N      N/A
      style          entertaining

                     The authors/editors
                     often and
                     appropriately use
  Use of cultural    names and pictures
                                            Y       N      N/A
      icons          of science fiction /
                     movies /cartoons
                     heroes or other
                     celebrities

                     Most of the textual
                     content is
                                            Y       N      N/A
                     supplemented by
                     pictures

   Image - text      The pictures
     relation        enhance the textual
                     information value so
                                            Y       N      N/A
                     that to foster open-
                     minded and breezy
                     reading

                     The website is video
  Video content                             Y       N      N/A
                     content-rich

                     The website is audio
  Audio content                             Y       N      N/A
                     content-rich

                     Textual content is
                     supplemented by
                     multimedia content
                                            Y       N      N/A
                     (graphic, animation,
                     audio/video file,
                     etc.)

 Multimedia - text   The multimedia
     relation        content (graphic,
                     animation,
                     audio/video file,
                     etc.) enhances the     Y       N      N/A
                     textual information
                     value so that to
                     foster open-minded
                     and breezy reading




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                                                                         Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                          this criterion help the website be
                                                       Answer              more efficient for improving the
    School Homework Demands
                                                                         image of science and scientists and
                                                                                communicating science
                       There are clear
                       evidences on the
                       website that               Y       N      N/A
   Collaboration       editors/authors work
   with Schools        with schools

                       The websites appear
                       to have been
                       designed from the
    Relation to
                       ground-up to
  school science                                  Y       N      N/A
                       specifically
     curricula
                       complement a
                       standardized science
                       curriculum



                                                      VISUAL APPEAL

                                                                         Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                          this criterion help the website be
                    Design                              Answer             more efficient for improving the
                                                                         image of science and scientists and
                                                                                communicating science
                   Overall first impression:
                   the website is
                   aesthetically appealing.
                   Well-balanced use of           Y       N      N/A
                   graphics and colour.
                   Appropriate to target
 First look        group preferences

                   The overall presentation
                   cannot be labelled
                                                  Y       N      N/A
                   'cheesy' or 'dull', but
                   'funky' and 'cool'

                   There are not any flashing,
 Graphic           scrolling, or otherwise
 design                                           Y       N      N/A
                   visually distracting
                   graphic displays

                   The illustrations cannot be
                                                  Y       N      N/A
 Images            labelled 'too adult and
                   boring', neither 'child-like



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                 and patronising'

                 There are plenty of eye-
                 catching photographs,        Y       N        N/A
                 pictures and graphics

                 The front page is on one
                 page. The internal pages     Y       N        N/A
 Main Layout
                 are not inordinately long.


                                                   USABILITY

                                                                     Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                      this criterion help the website be
                Navigation                         Answer              more efficient for improving the
                                                                     image of science and scientists and
                                                                            communicating science
                 The website offers concise
   Ease of       grouping of the content      Y       N        N/A
  navigation     material

                 The homepage can always
                 be reached from any          Y       N        N/A
                 navigation level

                 The links clearly indicate
 Orientation     where they lead to, using
                 an appropriate title so
                                              Y       N        N/A
                 that the user can predict
                 the system response to
                 his/her action

                                                                     Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                      this criterion help the website be
               Technological                       Answer              more efficient for improving the
                                                                     image of science and scientists and
                                                                            communicating science
   Time for      The website loads quickly
                                              Y       N        N/A
  download       and easily

                 The images are
   Images                                     Y       N        N/A
                 informatively labelled




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                                                                        Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                         this criterion help the website be
               Functionality                           Answer             more efficient for improving the
                                                                        image of science and scientists and
                                                                               communicating science
                  Information is easy to find
                  (no more than three clicks,    Y        N      N/A
                  for example)

                  The textbox used to
   Search
                  search terms on the
                  website is easily accessible   Y        N      N/A
                  from any place of the
                  website

                                                                        Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                         this criterion help the website be
                 Accessibility                         Answer             more efficient for improving the
                                                                        image of science and scientists and
                                                                               communicating science
                  The website is W3C
                  standard priority 1
  Disability                                     Y        N      N/A
                  compliant for vision-
   access
                  impaired users


                                                     INTERACTIVITY

                                                                        Explain how your choices regarding
                                                                         this criterion help the website be
               Functionalities                         Answer             more efficient for improving the
                                                                        image of science and scientists and
                                                                               communicating science
                   This website provides
 Value-adding
                   interactivity that            Y        N      N/A
 interactivity
                   increases its value

                   There are technical
    User-
                   facilities for users to
  generated                                      Y        N      N/A
                   contribute to the
   content
                   website’s content

 Communicati       The website offers
    ng with        effective communication       Y        N      N/A
   scientists      with scientists

  Active user      The website offers            Y        N      N/A
 participation     interactive game/s to its


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               users connected to the
               content.

               The website offers
               online survey or opinion
                                          Y       N      N/A
               polls on topics related
               to sciences.

               The website offers
                                          Y       N      N/A
               quizzes

               The website offers their
               users to send/publish      Y       N      N/A
               their feedback

               The website stimulates
   Virtual     formation of virtual
                                          Y       N      N/A
 communities   communities (using
               social networking tools)




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          Appendix B: Practical methodology of the implementation of the
                                focus group sessions

     What follows is a guide to the setting up and undertaking of focus groups of participants in
     terms of their perspectives on science and scientists in general and on science websites in
     particular.

     5. The composition of the focus groups

     Firstly, the investigators need to ensure that the focus groups represent the diversity of the
     target population (in terms of age, gender, socio-economic status etc.). Each individual
     group should be composed of approximately 6 to 9 people. The investigators might wish to
     keep these groups homogenous to prevent social dynamics, such as gender differences,
     from compromising the free expression of the opinion of some participants. Each focus
     group should be divided into small groups of 2 or 3 participants, who will work together on
     the evaluation of the website. Facilitators must clearly mark the responses of each group of
     participants.

     6. Organization of the sessions

     A.      Location
     The investigators should decide on the most appropriate location for the focus groups. For
     young people, it may be possible to use a room in the school that the children attend. As
     long as the event will not be disrupted, this arrangement means that the children are in a
     familiar environment and has the added advantage that the investigators do not have to
     take responsibility for transporting the children to the venue. The downside may be that
     teachers may anticipate participating in the event themselves. This is to be avoided as it is
     the children’s views that are the focus of the activity. If a suitable space is not available in the
     school, then the children may be brought to a venue to participate in the event. In this case
     it is essential that no facilitator is left alone with an individual child.

     B.      Permission
     Different countries have different requirements for obtaining permission to contact children,
     to run the focus groups with them, and to ensure that the accepted ethical standards for
     research involving human participants are met. These protocols should be followed.

     C.      Badges
     The facilitators of the session should create name badges for all the participants (including
     themselves). It is practical to use badges of different colours to identify different subgroups,
     such as the age of participants.


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     If working with young people, it will be a much more authentic event if the young people are
     not accompanied into the session itself by teachers or adults they know as this will inhibit
     their responses. (The facilitator does not have this effect as s/he is a stranger.)

     D.     Facilitators and duration
     At least 2 persons per focus group session have to be present to run the session. It is
     advisable that no facilitator stays alone with the children in a room.

     It is also advisable for the facilitators to have someone else available to accompany the
     children to the toilet etc as otherwise they may need to leave the group unsupervised.
     (Children rarely all want to go at the same time so having someone else undertake this task
     minimises the disruption to the event and ensures that no young people wander off or
     become lost.)

     E.     Timing
     The length of the sessions with the focus groups, will depend on the number of websites
     used, but should last no more than 1.5 hours for three websites.

     7. The sessions

     A.     Introduction – “ice-breaker”
     After a brief introduction the group as a whole should embark on what is termed an ‘ice-
     breaker’ as a means to prompt the participants to start thinking about the issue. It is at this
     point that participants’ proximity to science should be recorded.

     Some useful icebreaker questions include:

         1) What is Science?
         2) What is a Scientist?
         3) Do you know any scientists or anyone who works in a science related field?
         4) Do you plan to become a scientist yourself?
         5) (For both “yes” and “no” answers to the above) Why?
         6) Are you taking science at school?
     All of these questions will serve to relax the participants whilst also focusing their thoughts
     on the central issues.

     The responses to the above discussion should be written onto a flipchart by the second
     facilitator, so that the information may be recorded for subsequent analysis. It is essential to
     record which group’s views are represented.

     B.     Exploration of the websites
     Participants should then be invited to explore the websites. Each group of 1 to 3 participants
     (depending on the number of computers) should be given approximately 30 minutes to
     explore a website. Each participant has to fill in the questionnaire for each of the websites


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     individually. You do not need to guide participants’ navigation through the websites; they
     should proceed as they want to and/or usually do.

     When working with young people, please be aware that some children may have difficulty in
     reading the questions or in utilising the keyboard, so the facilitator should remain on hand to
     resolve any such difficulties.

     Please ensure that the computers used for the session have no access to websites that are
     not appropriate for children.

     C.      Closing discussion
     Once each participant has evaluated each of the websites, the facilitator should bring the
     group together again for a general discussion, which should be audio taped. A flip chart can
     be used in addition. It is important to accurately record which website a child is talking
     about.

     The facilitator may usefully extend the discussion from the websites that have been
     reviewed to include questions about other websites that the participants frequently use. For
     example:

          1) Which other websites do you frequently use?
          2) Why do you like the ones you think are good?
          3) Why do you not like others as much?


     The participants should then be offered to ask any questions that they have for the
     facilitator (Prepare to be surprised!). They should then be thanked for their participation. If
     working with young people, children should be taken back to the adults who accompanied
     them to the institution or the location where they ought to be.

     8. Preparation for the sessions

     1. Identify the participants you would like to work with. If these are school children, send a
        request to the headmaster asking whether they would like to participate. Arrange a
        meeting with the headmaster.

     2. At the meeting, make sure you obtain written consent.

     3. Prepare consent forms for parents if requested in your country, also give a copy to the
        class teacher.

     Once consent has been obtained

     4. Arrange a suitable time to conduct the focus groups and a suitable room

     5. From the class teacher, obtain names and birthdays (age) from all children in the class

     6. Make name badges for the participants.

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     7. Organise your materials (Flip chart/ laptops or PCs / recording equipment/ felt tip pens)

     On the day

     8. Set up your room, so that participants can access the websites easily and so that all
        statements will be picked up by the audio recorder

     9. Obtain verbal consent of each participant prior to commencing

     10. Note down the names of the participants chosen

     11. Follow the instructions given in section 3 above

     During the recording

     12. Have a separate blank sheet for the flipchart for each group to record answers to the ice-
         breaker questions, which include (as detailed in the instructions)

                a. Asking their perception of Science/Scientists

                b. Asking their proximity to science

                c. Asking whether or not they have science at school

     You might also consider the use a notepad to note down other relevant information

     13. Before you start the audio recording, state clearly which session is being recorded

     14. When a young person wants to speak - ask their name first – e.g. “Peter, what would you
         like to say”. That way, you have a reference for the name

     15. From here, follow the instructions given.




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     9. Questionnaire for the participant to analyse the websites

     1. What does the website look like?
      Can you easily see what this website is Yes                                 No
      about?

      Is this website easy to read?                       Yes                     No

                                                          Yes                     No

                                                          Why?

      Is this site is cool to look at?




      Are there things that distract you from
                                              Yes                                 No
      reading the site properly?

                                                          What are these?




      Looking at the pictures and videos on this Yes                                      No
      site – do you like them?                   Why?



      Do you always know where you are on the
                                              Yes                                         No
      site?

      Find some information on X. Did you find Yes                                        No
      it easy to find this?                    Why?




     Please note that X is to be replaced by a specific item of information, which will depend on the websites you
     choose to analyse. Please insert item as appropriate.




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     2. How can you interact with the site?

      Is it easy to send feedback in?              Yes                            No

                                                   Give examples

      What are your favourite games, polls or
      quizzes on the website?



      If there is a blog, do you like it?          Yes              No              There is no blog

                                                   Why?




      If there is a message board and web
      forum, do you like it?
                                                   Yes              No            There is no message
                                                                                  board/ web forum


                                                   Why?




      Would you be able to meet other people Yes                             No
      through using this website?

                                                   How?




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     3. What do you think of the site?

                                                         Yes                     No

                                                         Why?

      Is the site easy to understand?




                                                         Yes                     No

                                                         Why?

      Is the site useful for you?




      Is the site useful for your school work?           Yes                     No

                                                         Why?




      Does the site contain topics you find Give examples
      interesting?




      Is this web site fun?                              Yes                     No


                                                         Why?




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     4. What does this website show you about science and scientists?

      Does the site make science look easy or difficult?   Easy           OK            Difficult


      Does the site show you who can become a
      scientist?




      Looking at this site, what are scientists like?




      Does the site make you interested in doing Yes                             No
      science yourself?
                                                 Why?




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