The journal was founded in London in 1992, at a time of growing activity in the field of science communication in the UK, in practice, academic research and teaching. The aim was to bring together scholarly research about science and its publics, irrespective of the disciplinary allegiance of the researcher, and thus to contribute to a reflective practice of science communication in society. Initiated by John Durant, its first editor and Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Imperial College, and moved forward by Jane Gregory, its first managing editor, Public Understanding of Science was originally co-published by IOP Publishing, a subsidiary of the UK’s Institute of Physics which invested in the journal as a contribution to research in this field, and Science Museum, London. Since 2003 PUS is published by SAGE London.
PUS publishes eight issues per year and is indexed by ISI Web of Science and Scopus. Its impact factor shows that it is a leading journal in its field. Contingent on the general arrangements between SAGE and the authors' institutions, and the individual decision of authors, articles are either published Open Access or in the traditional publication model requiring an institutional or individual subscription for access to the full text.
The editorial team consists of Journal Editor, Managing Editor, Book Review Editor, Historical Moments Editor, and Social Media Editor. An Editorial Board and Editorial Advisory Board advise the editorial team and make sure that the journal is well-rooted in the community that it serves.
Article types are Research Articles and Research Notes that present original research, Review Articles that show the state of the art in a specific research field, Essays on topics of general interest, Practical Perspectives providing practical experience, and Letters that relate to recently published articles. Furthermore, the list of article formats includes Book Reviews and Historical Moments Essays. Besides individual articles, PUS also publishes special issues devoted to a particular topic. For details on article formats and submission, please consult our Submission Guidelines.
Public Understanding of Science is available electronically on SAGE Journals Online at https://pus.sagepub.com/. The editorial office can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social media activities
Articles published in Public Understanding of Science are announced and promoted through the journal's Twitter account @SciPublic. Twitter is also used to link relevant PUS content with online discourses and to support our authors who present at conferences.
PUS operates a Blog at https://sagepus.blogspot.com/ that deals with topics covered by the journal and aims at addressing a broader public audience interested in the interrelationship of science and the public. Authors of articles published in PUS are invited to blog about their article. Book reviews published in the journal are also posted on our blog. Furthermore, the blog is open for thematically relevant submissions unrelated to published articles. See our guidelines on how to post on the PUS Blog.
- public perceptions, representations and assessments of science (e.g., knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and trust);
- public communication of science and scientific expertise in traditional and social media, science fiction and popular culture, events, and science museums;
- informal science education in public settings;
- public discourses and controversies over science and innovative technologies;
- public engagement, collaborations of science and public, public participation in knowledge creation, innovation and governance (citizen science, responsible research and innovation);
- models and theories of public understanding of science and science communication;
- medialization and medialization of science, public relations of science, open science;
- para-science and anti-science, science and religion, science and indigenous/traditional knowledge, scientific and everyday culture.
PUS aims to provide its readers significant and novel insights into the relationship of science and the public in different cultural, political and socio-economic contexts, and its authors a reputable place to publish theoretical, empirical and historical analyses of high quality. As an international journal, it looks for contributions from different world regions and favors articles that are of broad international interest and include cross-cultural comparisons. Because of the geographical, disciplinary and professional diversity of its audience, PUS expects authors to ensure their articles are comprehensible and relevant for interested readers beyond their own specialized peer community.
|Hans Peter Peters
|Free University of Berlin, Germany
|Dublin City University, Ireland
|University College London, UK
|University of the West of England, UK
|Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
|University of Trento, Italy
|University College London, UK
|Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina
|Aarhus University, Denmark
|City University London, UK
|University of Helsinki, Finland
|University of Trento, Italy (2016-2019)
|Martin W. Bauer
|London School of Economics and Political Science, UK (2010-2015)
|Edna F. Einsiedel
|University of Calgary, Canada (2004-2009)
|Bruce V. Lewenstein
|Cornell University, USA (1998-2003)
|MIT Museum, USA (1992-1997)
|University of Essex, UK
|John C. Besley
|Michigan State University, USA
|University of Wisconsin, USA
|China Association of Science and Technology, China
|Celeste Michelle Condit
|University of Georgia, USA
|Fabienne Crettaz von Roten
|University of Lausanne, Switzerland
|University of Haifa, Israel
|Dublin City University, Ireland
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
|University of Cambridge, UK
|University of Exeter, UK
|Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany
|Cornell University, USA
|University of Copenhagen, Denmark
|Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
|Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
|Soochow University, China
|Stellenbosch University, South Africa
|Sogang University, South Korea
|Osaka University, Japan
|Johannes Kepler University, Austria
|University College London, UK
|Brazilian Institute of Public Communication of Science and Technology, Brazil
|Australian National University, Australia
|University of Michigan, USA
|University College London, UK
|Matthew C. Nisbet
|Northeastern University, USA
|Spanish National Research Council, Spain
|Observa Science in Society, Italy
|National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, India
|Mike S. Schäfer
|University of Zurich, Switzerland
|Université du Québec, Canada
|Institute for Human Development, India
|University of Tartu, Estonia
|Soochow University, China
|Tsinghua University, China
Manuscript Submission Guidelines: Public Understanding of Science
This Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.
This Journal recommends that authors follow the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
Please read the guidelines below then visit the Journal’s submission site https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pscience to upload your manuscript. Please note that manuscripts not conforming to these guidelines may be returned.
Only manuscripts of sufficient quality that meet the aims and scope of Public Understanding of Science will be reviewed.
There are no fees payable to submit or publish in this Journal. Open Access options are available - see section 3.3 below.
As part of the submission process you will be required to warrant that you are submitting your original work, that you have the rights in the work, and that you have obtained and can supply all necessary permissions for the reproduction of any copyright works not owned by you, that you are submitting the work for first publication in the Journal and that it is not being considered for publication elsewhere and has not already been published elsewhere. Please see our guidelines on prior publication and note that Public Understanding of Science may accept submissions of papers that have been posted on pre-print servers; please alert the Editorial Office when submitting (contact details are at the end of these guidelines) and include the DOI for the preprint in the designated field in the manuscript submission system. Authors should not post an updated version of their paper on the preprint server while it is being peer reviewed for possible publication in the journal. If the article is accepted for publication, the author may re-use their work according to the journal's author archiving policy.
If your paper is accepted, you must include a link on your preprint to the final version of your paper.
- What do we publish?
1.1 Aims & Scope
1.2 Article types
1.3 Supplemental material
1.4 Special Issues
1.5 Writing your paper
- Editorial policies
2.1 Peer review policy
2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests
2.6 Research data
- Publishing policies
3.1 Publication ethics
3.2 Contributor's publishing agreement
3.3 Open access and author archiving
- Preparing your manuscript
4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics
4.3 Reference style
4.4 English language editing services
- Submitting your manuscript
5.2 Information required for completing your submission
- On acceptance and publication
6.1 Sage Production
6.2 Online First publication
6.3 Access to your published article
6.4 Promoting your article
- Further information
Before submitting your manuscript to Public Understanding of Science, please ensure you have read the Aims & Scope.
1.2 Article Types
Types of submissions:
1. Research Article (max. 8,000 words and 5 figures or tables)
Research articles present original theoretical, empirical or historical research of broader relevance. They should position their specific study in the context of established theories, research traditions or scholarly discourses. In the case of articles covering empirical research (quantitative or qualitative), authors must provide documentation of methodological details and materials such as questionnaires, guidelines, coding instructions and examples, experimental stimuli, details of complex statistical analyses, information about samples and selection criteria. This information can be added as supplemental material (see below) which will be published online along with the article.
2. Research Note (max. 4,000 words and 5 figures or tables)
Research notes are similar to research articles in most respects but deal with subjects where the scholarly or practical context is obvious, and introduction and discussion can be kept short. In particular, authors should consider submitting a research note if the relevance of their topic is more specific (e.g., confined to a particular region or case), if addressing their research question requires only limited data presentation and analyses, or if they extend existing research to other regions, cases or issues. The requirement to provide comprehensive documentation of methods is the same as for research articles as well as the possibility to use supplemental material for that purpose.
3. Review Article (max. 8,000 words)
Review articles provide a critical overview of a particular research field on the basis of a structured literature survey. They should inform readers about the main research directions, theoretical claims, methodological approaches and available evidence. They should also point to existing uncertainties, contradictions and research demands, distinguishing between consensual and contested claims. Authors submitting a review article should have a long-standing and profound familiarity with the research field that they cover.
4. Essay (max. 4,000 words)
Essays discuss a phenomenon, development or issue of general relevance within the scope of Public Understanding of Science. In doing so they should provide novel insights and interpretations supporting an in-depth understanding of the subject of the essay. Essays can deal with matters of social practice, social theory or reflect on the research practice of the PUS community. While essays can argue in favor a particular viewpoint, position, decision or action, they should be reflective and analytical, consider different viewpoints and angles, present pros and cons, and substantiate advocacy with comprehensible evidence and arguments.
5. Practical Perspective (max. 4,000 words)
Practical perspective articles provide insights from "practitioners" (e.g., science communicators, scientists and science managers, representatives from politics, public administration, NGOs, or industry) about experiences, challenges, shortcomings or research needs related to the interrelationship between science and the public. Practical perspectives are particularly welcome if they enable practitioners and researchers to learn from successful or failed examples, address the relationship of theory and practice, or point to a lack of relevant scientific advice for the understanding and solution of practical problems regarding the relationship of science and public.
6. Letter (max. 2,000 words and 2 figures or tables)
Letters are shorter pieces of various formats that closely relate to an article already published in Public Understanding of Science. They can critically comment on that article, present evidence supporting or challenging the claims of the original article, or provide additional or alternative explanations, interpretations or conclusions. Letters may also be used by the author(s) of the original article to add additional data from a follow-up study (e.g. data from another wave of a panel survey or from replication of a study in another country) but may not introduce new research questions or approaches to analysis.
Manuscripts of research articles, research notes, review articles, essays and letters are reviewed and have to be submitted via the Sage online submission system ScholarOne. The above-mentioned maximum number of words include footnotes, references and acknowledgements.
Public Understanding of Science also publishes book reviews and historical moments essays:
7. Book Review (approx. 750 words for a single book review; approx. 2,000 words for a comparative review of several linked books)
Book reviews provide readers with information and guidance on new books dealing with public understanding of science or related subjects. Book reviews may cover a single book or compare several thematically related books. Book reviews are commissioned and edited by our book review editor, Brian Trench (email@example.com). Information about new books should be sent directly to him. Please do not send unsolicited book review manuscripts.
8. Historical Moments Essay (max. 3,000 words)
The aim of historical moments essays is to highlight historical instances of the construction of public cultures of science, which can be seen today as meaningful for and relevant to the fields of science communication and public understanding of science. The intent is to emphasize the value of historical enquiry, and of an historical sensibility, for the development of current scholarship in and about science communication and the public understanding of science. Texts appearing in this rubric are expected to be calls to intellectual action. Proposals and finished contributions can be sent directly by email to our historical moments editor, Jean-Baptiste Gouyon (firstname.lastname@example.org). Detailed guidelines available on demand.
1.3 Supplemental Material
Articles can refer to supplemental material that is published online along with the article. The use of supplemental material is particularly useful for research articles and research notes that are based on empirical analyses, both qualitative and quantitative. Supplemental material has two main purposes: first, to make the research on which the article is based more transparent, criticizable, and reproducible; second, to improve readability and comprehensibility of the article by outsourcing technical parts of (complex) methodologies and analyses that are mostly relevant for methodological experts but not essential for understanding the general argument of the article.
With respect to the first purpose, we expect documentation of questionnaires, interview guidelines, coding books, experimental stimuli, scales, and similar material in their original language as well as in English translation. Furthermore, we expect a detailed description of samples, text or audio-visual corpora, and interview transcripts or observation notes that are analyzed. For qualitative and quantitative content analyses and for ethnographic research we appreciate the provision of examples (if not included in the article) to support readers’ understanding of how interpretative claims were generated from the empirically analyzed material or how categories were applied.
With respect to the second purpose, the outsourcing of details of methods and auxiliary analyses such as analyses of reliability and validity, complex statistical procedures, network analyses, or machine-learning approaches does not mean that a proper description of methods can be omitted from the article. Readers of the article must be able to follow in general what is done in the analysis, and why it is done, without consulting supplemental material.
Supplemental material should be submitted (anonymized) as separate file along with the main manuscript via ScholarOne. The supplemental material file should include a title page with the title of the submitted manuscript as well as a table of contents.
This journal is able to host additional materials online (e.g. datasets, podcasts, videos, images etc) alongside the full-text of the article and a pdf-file containing the above-mentioned material. For more information please refer to our guidelines on submitting supplementary files.
1.4 Special Issues
Typically, a special issue of Public Understanding of Science consists of 3-5 articles plus an introductory essay that is coordinated by one or two guest editor(s). Only in particular cases of very broad relevance will we consider devoting a complete issue (about 7 articles) to a special topic. Guest editors are responsible for the coordination of the contributions and collaboration with the journal; the ultimate responsibility for the peer review process and acceptance of contributions remains with the journal. While the authors of a special issue may be recruited from a conference session, workshop, research program, collaborative project, or by an open call, the unifying principle of the special issue has to be the joint theme of the contributions, not their origin from a project, program or event. Within the theme we are interested in diversity of contributions in terms of theoretical or empirical approaches, geographical focus, and article types, for example. Research articles, research notes, review articles, and essays are possible contributions to a special issue. Overall, a special issue should provide some overview of the issues and research with respect to its theme but also advance the state of the art and provide novel insights.
Informal inquiry: We advise the prospective guest editor(s) to explore the journal's interest in the topic by an informal email inquiry to the editorial office (email@example.com). Besides a draft title and the names of the prospective guest editor(s) this inquiry should include a short (max. 1 page) pdf document with four paragraphs briefly answering the following questions: (1) How do the guest editors plan to recruit the authors for the contributions? Which prospective authors have already tentatively agreed to participate? (2) What is the general topic and on what kind of research or experience will the contributions be based on? (3) How does the topic relate to the scope of Public Understanding of Science? (4) Why is the topic and the possible content relevant for the readership of PUS and justifies a special issue? Based on the inquiry we provide some feedback on whether we believe that a formal special issue proposal might have a chance of acceptance. If the proposing guest editors plan an open call to recruit authors and contributions, this should be mentioned in the first paragraph of their informal inquiry.
Formal proposal submission: A formal special issue proposal (4-6 pages, to be submitted by email to the Editorial Office) consists of an introduction to the theme of the special issue and the theoretical and empirical approaches used to address it, and a list of confirmed authors and their contributions. We assume that in most cases the individual papers will not have been written at the time when the formal proposal is submitted but we expect informative abstracts that explain the aims, approaches and tentative conclusions of the respective papers. The proposal should also include a schedule and a brief description of how the guest editors intend to coordinate the special topic. It is advisable to organize an informal internal review before the individual papers are submitted to Public Understanding of Science via ScholarOne. Finally, the proposal should include a list of suggested reviewers familiar with the theme of the special issue but not involved in the actual research or otherwise collaborating with one of the authors or guest editors.
Decision about special issue proposals: Formal proposals will be reviewed by the Editorial Board and the final decision is made by the journal editor.
1.5 Writing your paper
The Sage Author Gateway has some general advice and on how to get published, plus links to further resources. Sage Author Services also offers authors a variety of ways to improve and enhance their article including English language editing, plagiarism detection, and video abstract and infographic preparation.
Sage does not permit the use of author-suggested (recommended) reviewers at any stage of the submission process, be that through the web-based submission system or other communication. Reviewers should be experts in their fields and should be able to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript. Our policy is that reviewers should not be assigned to a paper if:
• The reviewer is based at the same institution as any of the co-authors
• The reviewer is based at the funding body of the paper
• The author has recommended the reviewer
• The reviewer has provided a personal (e.g. Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail) email account and an institutional email account cannot be found after performing a basic Google search (name, department and institution).
All parties who have made a substantive contribution to the article should be listed as authors. Principal authorship, authorship order, and other publication credits should be based on the relative scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their status. A student is usually listed as principal author on any multiple-authored publication that substantially derives from the student’s dissertation or thesis.Please refer to section II.2 “Who Is an Author?” of the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals for criteria that legitimately constitute authorship of an article published in Public Understanding of Science.
Please note that AI chatbots, for example ChatGPT, should not be listed as authors. For more information see the policy on Use of ChatGPT and generative AI tools.
All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, or a department chair who provided only general support.
Please supply any personal acknowledgements separately to the main text to facilitate anonymous peer review.
2.3.1 Third party submissions
Where an individual who is not listed as an author submits a manuscript on behalf of the author(s), a statement must be included in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript and in the accompanying cover letter. The statements must:
- Disclose this type of editorial assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input
- Identify any entities that paid for this assistance
- Confirm that the listed authors have authorized the submission of their manuscript via third party and approved any statements or declarations, e.g. conflicting interests, funding, etc.
Where appropriate, Sage reserves the right to deny consideration to manuscripts submitted by a third party rather than by the authors themselves.
Public Understanding of Science requires all authors to acknowledge their funding in a consistent fashion under a separate heading. Please visit the Funding Acknowledgements page on the Sage Journal Author Gateway to confirm the format of the acknowledgment text in the event of funding, or state that: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Public Understanding of Science encourages authors to include a declaration of any conflicting interests and recommends you review the good practice guidelines on the Sage Journal Author Gateway
The journal is committed to facilitating openness, transparency and reproducibility of research, and has the following research data sharing policy. For more information, including FAQs please visit the Sage Research Data policy pages.
Subject to appropriate ethical and legal considerations, authors are encouraged to:
- share your research data in a relevant public data repository
- include a data availability statement linking to your data. If it is not possible to share your data, we encourage you to consider using the statement to explain why it cannot be shared.
- cite this data in your research
Sage is committed to upholding the integrity of the academic record. We encourage authors to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ International Standards for Authors and view the Publication Ethics page on the Sage Author Gateway.
Public Understanding of Science and Sage take issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of the journal against malpractice. Submitted articles may be checked with duplication-checking software. Where an article, for example, is found to have plagiarised other work or included third-party copyright material without permission or with insufficient acknowledgement, or where the authorship of the article is contested, we reserve the right to take action including, but not limited to: publishing an erratum or corrigendum (correction); retracting the article; taking up the matter with the head of department or dean of the author's institution and/or relevant academic bodies or societies; or taking appropriate legal action.
3.1.2 Prior publication
If material has been previously published it is not generally acceptable for publication in a Sage journal. However, there are certain circumstances where previously published material can be considered for publication. Please refer to the guidance on the Sage Author Gateway or if in doubt, contact the Editor at the address given below.
Before publication, Sage requires the author as the rights holder to sign a Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement. Sage’s Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement is an exclusive licence agreement which means that the author retains copyright in the work but grants Sage the sole and exclusive right and licence to publish for the full legal term of copyright. Exceptions may exist where an assignment of copyright is required or preferred by a proprietor other than Sage. In this case copyright in the work will be assigned from the author to the society. For more information please visit the Sage Author Gateway.
Public Understanding of Science offers optional open access publishing via the Sage Choice programme and Open Access agreements, where authors can publish open access either discounted or free of charge depending on the agreement with Sage. Find out if your institution is participating by visiting Open Access Agreements at Sage. For more information on Open Access publishing options at Sage please visit Sage Open Access. For information on funding body compliance, and depositing your article in repositories, please visit Sage’s Author Archiving and Re-Use Guidelines and Publishing Policies.
The preferred format for your manuscript is Word. LaTeX files are also accepted. Word and (La)Tex templates are available on the Manuscript Submission Guidelines page of our Author Gateway.
A maximum of 5 tables or figures are permitted per paper. For full guidance on the preparation of illustrations, pictures and graphs in electronic format, please visit Sage’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines.
Figures supplied in colour will appear in colour online regardless of whether or not these illustrations are reproduced in colour in the printed version. For specifically requested colour reproduction in print, you will receive information regarding the costs from Sage after receipt of your accepted article.
Authors should obtain the necessary permission to use others' images in their work, unless the use falls under 'fair dealing'. For more information on 'fair dealing' and what it covers, please visit Sage's Copyright and Permissions FAQs.
Public Understanding of Science adheres to the Sage Harvard reference style. View the Sage Harvard guidelines to ensure your manuscript conforms to this reference style.
Authors seeking assistance with English language editing, translation, or figure and manuscript formatting to fit the journal’s specifications should consider using Sage Language Services. Visit Sage Language Services on our Journal Author Gateway for further information.
Public Understanding of Science is hosted on Sage Track, a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pscience to login and submit your article online.
IMPORTANT: Please check whether you already have an account in the system before trying to create a new one. If you have reviewed or authored for the journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created. For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help.
As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent and fair peer review process Sage is a supporting member of ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID. ORCID provides a unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from every other researcher, even those who share the same name, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between researchers and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized.
The collection of ORCID IDs from corresponding authors is now part of the submission process of this journal. If you already have an ORCID ID you will be asked to associate that to your submission during the online submission process. We also strongly encourage all co-authors to link their ORCID ID to their accounts in our online peer review platforms. It takes seconds to do: click the link when prompted, sign into your ORCID account and our systems are automatically updated. Your ORCID ID will become part of your accepted publication’s metadata, making your work attributable to you and only you. Your ORCID ID is published with your article so that fellow researchers reading your work can link to your ORCID profile and from there link to your other publications.
You will be asked to provide contact details and academic affiliations for all co-authors via the submission system and identify who is to be the corresponding author. These details must match what appears on your manuscript. The affiliation listed in the manuscript should be the institution where the research was conducted. If an author has moved to a new institution since completing the research, the new affiliation can be included in a manuscript note at the end of the paper. At this stage please ensure you have included all the required statements and declarations and uploaded any additional supplementary files (including reporting guidelines where relevant).
Please also ensure that you have obtained any necessary permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere. For further information including guidance on fair dealing for criticism and review, please see the Copyright and Permissions page on the Sage Author Gateway.
Your Sage Production Editor will keep you informed as to your article’s progress throughout the production process. Proofs will be made available to the corresponding author via our editing portal Sage Edit or by email, and corrections should be made directly or notified to us promptly. Authors are reminded to check their proofs carefully to confirm that all author information, including names, affiliations, sequence and contact details are correct, and that Funding and Conflict of Interest statements, if any, are accurate.
Online First allows final articles (completed and approved articles awaiting assignment to a future issue) to be published online prior to their inclusion in a journal issue, which significantly reduces the lead time between submission and publication. Visit the Sage Journals help page for more details, including how to cite Online First articles.
Sage provides authors with online access to their final article.
Publication is not the end of the process! You can help disseminate your paper and ensure it is as widely read and cited as possible. The Sage Author Gateway has numerous resources to help you promote your work. Visit the Promote Your Article page on the Gateway for tips and advice.
Any correspondence, queries or additional requests for information on the manuscript submission process should be sent to the Public Understanding of Science editorial office as follows: