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Authors: De Astis, Gianfilippo* 
Crescimbene, Massimo* 
La Longa, Federica* 
Title: Public dissemination of science and its language: test and school reports to improve the mutual comprehension between scientists and people
Issue Date: Sep-2018
Keywords: Public awareness of science
the GULPEASE index
Abstract: Public awareness of science, public understanding of science, or more recently, Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PEST) are terms relating to the attitudes, behaviours, opinions, and activities that comprise the relations between the general public or lay society as a whole to scientific knowledge and organisation. It is a comparatively new approach to the task of exploring the multitude of relations and linkages science, technology, and innovation have among the general public. While earlier work in the discipline had focused on augmenting public knowledge of scientific topics, in line with the information deficit model of science communication , the discrediting of the model has led to an increased emphasis on how the public chooses to use scientific knowledge and on the development of interfaces to mediate between expert and lay understandings of an issue. To explore a particular aspect of these topics, we conducted a survey to assess the readability and comprehension of some scientific divulgation texts. First of all, we selected two texts of volcanological topics using the GULPEASE index. The Gulpease Index is an index of readability of a text calibrated on the Italian language. Compared to others, it has the advantage of using the word length in letters instead of syllables, simplifying the automatic calculation. Complementing the Gulpease index we considered the evaluation of the common vocabulary used in the text, or the 'notoriety' of the single terms used. For our survey we used one text with a medium-high Gulpease index (a dissemination text addressed to the elementary school), and one text with a medium-low Gulpease index (addressed to an audience with a medium-high education level). We created a questionnaire to assess the understanding and attitude of the public in relation to the texts of volcanological dissemination examined. In particular, we have investigated five dimensions: how the title is; how the text is; how the information contained in the text are, diffusion to other people; desire to deepen the topic of the text. In this paper, we present the results of the survey conducted in the early months of 2018, in collaboration with the students of the Peano scientific lyceum in Rome, as part of the alternating training project “Gulpease and beyond”. We think that this type of work should become a routine activity to bring scientific knowledge as close as possible to the life and choices of conscious citizens. Because citizens' decisions and choices play a fundamental role to reducing natural risks.
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