In recent years, some scientists have expressed concern about the negative representation of the state of the oceans in the media. To examine this concern empirically, we analyzed the content of 169 articles in mainstream U.S. newspapers covering ocean-related research between 2001 and 2015. Content was categorized according to main issue, basis of evidence, causal attribution, presence of solutions and uncertainty, and coded for doom and gloom and optimistic language. Science journalism about ocean issues most commonly addressed climate change and the status of ocean species or populations. The majority of articles cited peer-reviewed research. Most articles attributed change to anthropogenic causes, although ocean science articles addressing climate change were less likely to do so. Uncertain language and solutions were observed in nearly half of all articles. Optimistic language outnumbered doom and gloom language across all categories. While doom and gloom language was identified in 10% of all articles, optimistic language was present in 27%.
Food for Thought
Predatory open access (OA) journals can be defined as non-indexed journals that exploit the gold OA model for profit, often spamming academics with questionable e-mails promising rapid OA publication for a fee. In aquaculture—a rapidly growing and highly scrutinized field—the issue of such journals remains undocumented. We employed a quantitative approach to determine whether attributes of scientific quality and rigor differed between OA aquaculture journals not indexed in reputable databases and well-established, indexed journals. Using a Google search, we identified several non-indexed OA journals, gathered data on attributes of these journals and articles therein, and compared these data to well-established aquaculture journals indexed in quality-controlled bibliometric databases. We then used these data to determine if non-indexed journals were likely predatory OA journals and if they pose a potential threat to aquaculture research. On average, non-indexed OA journals published significantly fewer papers per year, had cheaper fees, and were more recently established than indexed journals. Articles in non-indexed journals were, on average, shorter, had fewer authors and references, and spent significantly less time in peer review than their indexed counterparts; the proportion of articles employing rigorous statistical analyses was also lower for non-indexed journals. Additionally, articles in non-indexed journals were more likely to be published by scientists from developing nations. Worryingly, non-indexed journals were more likely to be found using a Google search, and their articles superficially resembled those in indexed journals. These results suggest that the non-indexed aquaculture journals identified herein are likely predatory OA journals and pose a threat to aquaculture research and the public education and perception of aquaculture. Several points of reference from this study, in combination, may help scientists and the public more easily identify these possibly predatory journals, as these journals were typically established after 2010, publishing <20 papers per year, had fees <$1,000, and published articles <80 days after submission. Subsequently checking reputable and quality-controlled databases such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, Web of Science, Scopus, and Thompson Reuters can aid in confirming the legitimacy of non-indexed OA journals and can facilitate avoidance of predatory OA aquaculture journals.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right”—the sad case of Vaquita, the Trump administration and the removal of protections for whales and dolphins
The use of lethal research methods on cetaceans has a long and complicated history in cetology (the scientific study of whales, dolphins and porpoises). In the current era, collecting data through the hunting of whales (sometimes referred to as scientific whaling) remains a source of considerable conflict in various fora, including scientific ones. Based on interviews and documents, this article explores how marine mammal scientists articulate the validity of particular practices and research at both the International Whaling Commission and in professional scientific societies. Drawing on cultural theory, the article explores scientists’ boundary work, describing the purity and pollution of particular whaling practices in different institutional contexts. Respondents on either side of the debate argued for the pure or polluted nature of various positions, often utilising particular idealised values of science: objectivity, honesty and openness regarding how conclusions were drawn. The nature of boundary work performed is then related to the institutional context within which it takes place. This article thus highlights how science’s role in environmental conflicts can be assessed through boundary work that denotes who can legitimately speak for science, on what topics and how science is stage-managed.
Coverage of issues by news media is known to impact on both public perceptions and policy development aimed at addressing the featured issues. We examine the potential impact of news media coverage regarding the health and potential future of the World heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, which is under multiple pressures, both natural and anthropogenic. We draw on the extant literature regarding the impact of news media coverage of other complex issues, linking to relevant, albeit limited theoretical concepts that have been applied to previous media studies. We find that media coverage is predominately sensationalized and negative, with the potential to reinforce perceptions that mitigation attempts will be ineffective and thus likely to inhibit future policy development. We discuss the need for a review of existing science communication models and strategies to reduce the knowledge-practice gap between scientists and policy makers, together with proactive strategies to counter negative news coverage.
Research has suggested there is a need for an increased attention to the socio-cultural lifeworlds of fishers and fisheries and its importance for fisheries management. An emerging response to this call has been to examine the social and cultural contexts of ‘good fishing’ – an idea which, drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, has sought to move the discussion beyond simply the economic aspects of fishing to also understand the importance of other forms of capital. Utilising these concepts together with the conceptual idea of ‘knowledge cultures’, the following paper examines the ‘cultural sustainability’ of different ways of governing fishing practices – in particular Marine Conservation Zones and voluntary lobster v-notching using a case study approach to the small-scale fishery of Llŷn peninsula, North Wales (UK). The paper observes that those approaches that allow fishers to demonstrate skills and recognises the temporal contingency of fishing lives can be considered more culturally sustainable than others. This paper also notes that culturally acceptable changes to fishing practices can be supported by fishing regulations and, the paper suggests, such innovations are more likely to be taken up by fishers in their everyday fishing practices. The paper recommends that policies seeking to alter fishing practices consider: i) the importance fishers’ hold in demonstrating their skills; ii) how social relations are as important as economic aspects to fishers’ long-term uptake of new practices; and iii) how the past and the future (such as if a successor is present) holds significance for fishers’ actions in the present.
This paper seeks to highlight the importance of metaphors for marine conservation and policy. It argues that the manner in which the oceans are perceived, often as an alien landscape, can limit the way language is utilised in marine conservation efforts. This limitation can produce unhelpful environmental metaphors that, instead of acting as catalysts for action, produce negative and reactionary responses. It illustrates this point through the example of what has become known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ It postulates that if there is a disconnect between the many complex environmental issues facing the world's oceans and the way they are perceived, then more focus should be placed on developing pre-determined culturally embedded metaphors, which can conjure relatable imagery, but that are also rooted in scientific evidence. It recommends that, in an extension to existing public perception research (PPR) on how different communities value the ocean environment, there is room for shared metaphors of the oceanic environment to be developed that can help raise awareness within a particular cultural setting.
We surveyed 807 researchers (494 ecologists and 313 evolutionary biologists) about their use of Questionable Research Practices (QRPs), including cherry picking statistically significant results, p hacking, and hypothesising after the results are known (HARKing). We also asked them to estimate the proportion of their colleagues that use each of these QRPs. Several of the QRPs were prevalent within the ecology and evolution research community. Across the two groups, we found 64% of surveyed researchers reported they had at least once failed to report results because they were not statistically significant (cherry picking); 42% had collected more data after inspecting whether results were statistically significant (a form of p hacking) and 51% had reported an unexpected finding as though it had been hypothesised from the start (HARKing). Such practices have been directly implicated in the low rates of reproducible results uncovered by recent large scale replication studies in psychology and other disciplines. The rates of QRPs found in this study are comparable with the rates seen in psychology, indicating that the reproducibility problems discovered in psychology are also likely to be present in ecology and evolution.
This report considers the role that science and technology can play in understanding and providing solutions to the long-term issues affecting the sea. It outlines a number of recommendations to help the UK utilise its current expertise and technological strengths to foster trade links, build marine capacity across the world and collaborate to tackle climate change.
With global science-policy conventions for biodiversity and ecosystem services in place, much effort goes into monitoring and reporting on the progress toward policy targets. As conservation actions happen locally, can such global monitoring and reporting efforts effectively guide conservation actions at subnational level? In this paper we explore three different perspectives: policy reporting for policy implementation; scientific knowledge for empowerment and actions; and from past trends to influencing the future. Using these three perspectives, we identify ways forward for both decision makers and scientists on how to engage, inform and empower a larger diversity of actors who make decisions on the future of biodiversity and ecosystem services at multiple scales.