Posts By / lskains

New Book on Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health & Science Communication

Book coverNew publication: Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health & Science Communication

I’m delighted to announce that my new book publishes this week, as it provides an excellent example of the kinds of things we’re trying to do here at Bournemouth through the Sustainable Storytelling Lab and the Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group: harness the power of narrative storytelling to effect positive behaviour change related to the UN SDGs. It also offers an overview of how two very interdisciplinary teams formed (thanks to a Crucible program) and established successful patterns of working, despite our vastly different spheres of expertise.

Book description:

Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization stress the need to address numerous increasingly urgent ‘global challenges’, including climate change and ineffectiveness of medication for communicable diseases.

Despite climate change resulting from human activity, most humans feel their contribution is minimal; thus any effort made toward reducing individual carbon footprint is futile. Likewise, individual patients feel their health is their own problem; current increases in outbreaks of formerly controllable diseases like measles and tuberculosis show that this is not the case. There is a dire need to instil a stronger sense of personal responsibility, to act as individuals to resolve global issues, and the pilot studies presented in Using Interactive Digital Narrative in Science and Health Education offer an entertainment-as-education approach: interactive digital narrative.

The researchers on these teams cross diverse disciplinary boundaries, with backgrounds in chemical engineering, microbiology, romantic studies, film studies, digital design, pedagogy, and psychology. Their approach in Using Interactive Digital Narrative in Science and Health Education to interdisciplinary research is discussed herein, as is the practice-based approach to crafting the interactive narratives for health and science communication and for specific audiences and contexts.

ATRS Scheme Update: Health & Science Communication

It’s only been a few months since I published my first research blog post introducing myself and my research project to all of you at Bournemouth University. And while I still haven’t met any of you in person (thanks, COVID!), the last seven months have been jam-packed with activities, collaborations, grant proposals, research talks, escape rooms, and other general shenanigans.

logo - science, health, and data communications research groupI joined colleagues in FMC in launching the Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group, a growing centre of cross-faculty BU researchers creating and researching public communications and education on pivotal topics such as climate change, dementia, mental health, COVID, sustainability, ecology, and more. We are hosting our first public research talk series this semester, with excellent turnout and talks from prominent science and communications researchers from around the world.

I also led a university-wide “mini-Crucible“, designed to foster new collaborations across faculty leading to innovative interdisciplinary research projects (and, of course, funding applications). Not only was this event a trial of a virtual version of Nesta’s “Crucible-in-a-Box” program, but it was also rather successful, as it has led to a forthcoming AHRC Research Grant proposal for a Sustainable Storytelling Lab. The SSL will be exploring popular narrative across a variety of media and genres to educate, counter disinformation, and prompt positive behaviour change toward the UN-Sustainable Development Goals.

Related to this, I am currently leading an Expression of Interest for the SIA Game-Changing Concepts call, proposing to place Sustainable Storytelling for Health and Science as a key endeavour for BU moving forward.

I’m also excited to have Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health and Science Communication publishing next month; this is a jointly-authored monograph using two of my projects (You & CO2 and Infectious Storytelling) as case studies for demonstrating how IDNs can be effectively used to change attitudes and behaviours on science and health topics.

As any researcher always does, I have a ton of projects on the go, including a games for mental health project PI’d by Charlie Hargood, and a social media for NHS careworker project PI’d by Mona Esfahani. Many great things are on the horizon for Science and Health Communication at Bournemouth University, and I can’t wait to see what more evolves!

If you’re interested in collaborating, including the Sustainable Storytelling Lab, the SIA Game-Changing Concept EoI, my Playable Comms work, or something of your own, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at lskains@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Call for Papers: Digital Narrative and Interactive Storytelling for Public Engagement with Health and Science

Guest Editors: R. Lyle Skains and An Nguyen, Dept. of Communications & Journalism, Bournemouth University

Register your interest and submit abstracts at https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/17893

Keywords: digital narrative, interactive storytelling, health communication, science communication, science education, science journalism

We are seeking papers for a joint issue with Frontiers in Communication (Science and Environmental Communication; Health Communication) and Frontiers in Environmental Science (Science and Environmental Communication) on digital and interactive narratives and science and health education and journalism. This Special Topic aims to investigate how digital media affordances—such as human-machine and human-human interactivity, multimedia capacities, dynamic visual appeal, playfulness, personalization, real-time immersion, multilinear narrative, and so on—have been and can be used to effectively communicate health and science issues. We would like to go beyond the current discourse on fake news, mis/disinformation and online radicalization, which recognizes the malignant effects of digital media on health and science affairs, to refocus on the positive affordances of digital media—both in direct education (e.g., museums, public demonstrations, school settings) and through the media (e.g., news, film, games)—as communication tools and techniques for health and science topics.

The aim of this Research Topic is, therefore, to explore the current state of play, as well as potential future trajectories, of digital narrative and storytelling in the communication of health and science topics. We invite scholarly investigations, including theoretically driven and practice-related research, on any topic relevant to that overall goal. Some potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • How can science and health be effectively communicated through both playful and informative digital narrative and storytelling forms?
  • How can information, education and entertainment be integrated into digital narratives about health and science issues?
  • How do the socio-technical affordances of digital health and science narrative and storytelling, especially interactivity, affect audience experience, message cohesion, knowledge acquisition, emotional engagement and, ultimately, health/science literacy?
  • Can digital narrative and storytelling serve as an antidote to digital health and science mis/disinformation and online science denial more broadly, and in what way?
  • How are interactive narratives currently used for health & science communication and what are the social, economic and technological constraints on their production?

Types of Manuscripts:
● Empirical Research Papers
● Practice-led research Projects
● Reviews
● Conceptual Analysis
● Brief Research Reports
● Perspectives/Commentaries

Details on manuscript types: https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/communication#article-types

Abstract Deadline: 31 March 2021

Full Papers: 30 Sept 2021

The full call is at https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/17893; please register interest using the “Participate” button, and contact Lyle Skains (lskains@bournemouth.ac.uk) with any questions.

Science/Health/Arts/Comms Interdisciplinary Projects: Collaboration Opportunity

logo - science, health, and data communications research groupThe Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group will be conducting a series of workshops to start off the new year, designed to help Bournemouth researchers form new networks and collaborative projects around educating and communicating research to the public.

This series will take place from Monday 18 January 2021 to Friday 22 January 2021, each day from 1-3pm, online, and open to any and all researchers across the university. See full details and register on EventBrite.

This “crucible” programme, based on NESTA’s highly successful Crucible-in-a-Box, will focus on activities designed to connect researchers based on mutual interests, and develop those interests into new directions for collaborative research. It will also include interactive sessions on communicating your research to the media, collecting data for impact studies, working in interdisciplinary teams, and communications strategies.

If you are unable to participate in these sessions, we will likely be running them again. Full details are available on the EventBrite link; questions and requests to be notified of future events can be directed to Lyle Skains (lskains@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Invitation: Developing Interdisciplinary Research Projects

logo - science, health, and data communications research groupThe Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group will be conducting a series of workshops to start off the new year, designed to help Bournemouth researchers form new networks and collaborative projects around educating and communicating research to the public.

This series will take place from Monday 18 January 2021 to Friday 22 January 2021, each day from 1-3pm, online, and open to any and all researchers across the university. See full details and register on EventBrite.

This “crucible” programme, based on NESTA’s highly successful Crucible-in-a-Box, will include interactive sessions on communicating your research to the media, collecting data for impact studies, working in interdisciplinary teams, and communications strategies. It will also include activities designed to connect researchers based on mutual interests, and develop those interests into new directions for collaborative research.

If you are unable to participate in these sessions, we will likely be running them again. Full details are available on the EventBrite link; questions and requests to be notified of future events can be directed to Lyle Skains (lskains@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Academic Targeted Research Scheme (Health & Science Communication): Interactive Digital Narratives for Health and Science Education

Portrait - Lyle SkainsI’m the last of the Academic Targeted Research Scheme appointments; I took up my post last month (September) in Health & Science Communication. My home base is in the Faculty of Media & Communication, though my project will span numerous departments across arts and science disciplines.

My research is centred in an interdisciplinary and ubiquitous communication method that can be employed for multiple UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: interactive digital narrative (IDN). IDNs can be used in schools, GP waiting rooms, on tablets and smartphones; interactivity significantly increases retention, particularly when incorporated into media that audiences voluntarily and eagerly devote attention to. As a practice-based practitioner/researcher composing IDNs and evaluating their efficacy on multiple projects, I aim to develop a model for health and science communication through reading and writing IDNs that can be implemented in a wide array of scenarios and topic areas.

I came to this work through a serendipitous process, as I earned an undergraduate degree in science and did some postgrad study in evolutionary biology. I quickly discovered, however, that I’m more interested in reading and writing about science than I am in doing it (it was a lot of pipetting DNA!), so I changed tack. Amongst various professional endeavours, I started over, culminating in a PhD in Creative Writing and Digital Media.

You and CO2

My research is largely practice-based, as I compose various creative writing experiments in order to explore how new technologies such as hypertext, scripting, and multimodality affect the creative act and artefact. More recently, I have engaged in two Welsh Crucible-supported projects that brought me back to my science roots, combining interactive storytelling and science communication. You and CO2 examines using interactive digital narratives as bibliotherapy and expressive writing to effect positive attitude and behaviour change regarding the current climate crisis.

Likewise, the Infectious Storytelling project explores the efficacy of interactive digital narratives as persuasive media for educating the public about behaviours that lead to antibiotic microbial resistance. This project incorporates practice-based research, medical humanities, archive research, media analysis, ethnographic research in focus groups, and literary and art criticism, and is based on the historical treatment of tuberculosis in art, media, and literature, using insights Cover image from IDN "Only Always Never"gained from archival research and textual analysis to inform approaches to communicating the importance of proper antibiotic use to patients, farmers, and the general public.

Here at Bournemouth, I’m excited to expand these experiences into a wider “IDNs for SciComm” project. I’m going to be reaching out to colleagues across arts and sciences disciplines at BU, fostering collaborations and new avenues to explore the use of interactive narratives for health and science communication. The aim of this research is to identify and address a number of science and health communication needs through the increasingly ubiquitous digital technology in our lives, including the possibility of ongoing communication about the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re interested in collaborating with me or with others on interdisciplinary arts-science health and science communication, please get in touch!