• Fabien MedveckyEmail author
  • Joan Leach


Science communication is as much about the when as it is about the hows and whys. This chapter draws on the classical rhetoric notion of Kairos to help us think through some major ethical issues in science communication. Beginning with science communication’s uneasy relationship with persuasion, this chapter then considers the interaction of a fast-paced media landscape on the timing of science communication. Timing of communication matters to science communication as the when of communication is inextricably linked to both hype and urgency. The chapter closes with a discussion on the (historical) time in which the communication takes place, and how this relates to the (historical) time of our audience, because to be a good science communicator, the when really does matters.


Kairos Persuasion Science hype 


  1. Brumfiel, G. (2009). Science journalism: Supplanting the old media? Nature News, 458(7236), 274–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dodson, M. (2000). Human genetics: Control of research and sharing of benefits. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 1(2), 56–64. Available: ISSN: 0729-4352 (cited 11 October 2019).Google Scholar
  3. Helsley, S. L. (1996). Kairos. In Encyclopedia of rhetoric and composition: Communication from ancient times to the information age (pp. 1371–1972). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Jasanoff, S., & Kim, S.-H. (2015). Dreamscapes of modernity: Sociotechnical imaginaries and the fabrication of power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Jiankui, H., Ferrell, R., Yuanlin, C., Jinzhou, Q., & Yangran, C. (2018). Draft ethical principles for therapeutic assisted reproductive technologies. The CRISPR Journal, 1(6).
  6. Kahn, P. (1994). Genetic diversity project tries again. Science, 266(5186), 720–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kinneavy, J. L., & Eskin, C. R. (2000). Kairos in Aristotle’s rhetoric. Written Communication, 17(3), 432–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. National Centre for Indigenous Genomics. (n.d.). About. From
  9. Quinn, S. C., Jamison, A., Freimuth, V. S., An, J., Hancock, G. R., & Musa, D. (2017). Exploring racial influences on flu vaccine attitudes and behavior: Results of a national survey of White and African American adults. Vaccine, 35(8), 1167–1174. Scholar
  10. Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2009). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations