A Mixed Methods Approach for Analyzing the Imagery of a Novel Science

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Kelly Norris Martin


Though scientists and governments have realized the potential of nanoscience research, much of the public is still unfamiliar with nanoscience and current advancements. Scholars have found that one of the most persuasive powers of science is how it is visually portrayed to the public. However, among the few articles that examine the visual rhetoric of nano images, the images are described and interpreted but there is no comparison between these rhetorical evaluations and the results of qualitative audience reception studies. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate how various types of nano images (as identified by Robinson's image typology (2004): schematics, documentation, fantasy, and fine art) operate rhetorically to influence public perception. It used a mixed-method approach, combining critical rhetorical analysis and in-depth interviews to allow for a more complex analysis about the relationship between image and viewer. Findings suggest that images created by professional artists, or “fine art” images as defined by Robeson (2004) may be the most attractive types of images for lay viewer. This information may help scientists understand how the public’s knowledge and perception of nanoscience is shaped through nano imagery.

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How to Cite
Martin, K. (2013). A Mixed Methods Approach for Analyzing the Imagery of a Novel Science. Visual Methodologies, 2(1), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.7331/vm.v1i1.13
Author Biography

Kelly Norris Martin, Rochester Institute of Technology

Kelly Norris Martin is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology.