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Reception of the scientific and public discourse on nanosafety on the Internet

LabMultimodal interaction
FundingLeibniz Association, IWM budget resources
Project description

Nanotechnology is considered one of the key technologies of the 21st century. A general statement on the effect of nanomaterials on people and the environment however is not yet possible. As part of the Leibniz Research Alliance „Nanosafety“, this project focused on how laypersons and experts deal with conflicting scientific information on this topic and how they make decisions based on this information. We looked at this research question with special regard to the internet as a source of knowledge.

Especially on the internet there is much (partially conflicting) information on the topic of nanosafety with different sources and varying quality. Using controlled as well as actual information environments, we addressed the handling of such fragile information by laypersons to see which strategies they use to resolve or explain possible contradictions. In another step we investigated how these strategies differ from strategies used by domain experts. To look into these processes we used methods such as eye-tracking and log file analysis.

The project was part of the Leibniz Research Alliance “Nanosafety”, in which the IWM and seven other Leibniz institutes from the fields of environmental medicine, occupational health and safety, life sciences and data management were involved.


Leibniz Institute for New Materials



Gottschling, S., Kammerer, Y., & Gerjets, P. (2019). Readers’ processing and use of source information as a function of its usefulness to explain conflicting scientific claims. Discourse Processes, 56(5-6), 429-446. request document