Article 15 may 2024

Focusing on FOODSTORIES Handbook

Prior to the recent publication of our handbook, Aarhus University and University College Dublin hosted three validation focus groups, as we wanted to get some feedback on the handbook’s usefulness. In February 2024, AU hosted one focus group and UCD hosted two. Each participant was assigned 3 cases from the handbook to read in preparation for the sessions. They all had a common one called ‘Zetland’. The participants’ gave their perspectives on 4 key areas:

  • Relevance and Purpose
  • Accuracy and Understandability
  • Presentation and Design
  • Overall Assessment

The feedback was collated, themes emerged and changes were made to improve the handbook.

Three focus groups took place on February 7th (UCD) and February 8th (UCD and Aarhus University), 2024. In brief, the aim was to validate how effective the handbook and the 26 best cases can demonstrate storytelling as a tool in science communication, as well as how well the handbook might serve as inspiration for one’s own communication initiatives.

Between the three focus groups, there were 23 participants. Participants’ professional backgrounds ranged from early career scientists to senior food science, nutrition, and communication professionals. The participants read the handbook before the focus groups and were assigned 3 cases to examine in detail. All participants had one common case, ‘Zetland’, whereby all the participants had one common standpoint to discuss the handbook. They were asked prompt questions about the handbook, particularly pertaining to these 4 key areas: relevance and purpose, accuracy and understandability, presentation and design and overall assessment.

Following a transcription of the focus groups, themes emerged. The feedback was generally very positive, with many participants wanting to learn more and use storytelling in their own research. The majority of participants found the content, colour scheme, and understandability to be very good. The case study ‘Cosmos’ was highly reviewed and enjoyed by participants along with ‘Thesis in three’. When asked if they would recommend the handbook to a colleague, all said they would. Common issues related to the images and the introduction. Some were confused with the different mediums that can be used for storytelling. The Toolbox is an important addition to the handbook as some participants said they did not fully understand how to use it and asked for a toolkit. This toolkit is currently being worked on.

A report was written and disseminated within the Foodstories team and changes were made to improve the handbook. These included for example corrections to a few sentences, pictures, and hyperlinks, as well as some adjustments to the handbook’s introduction section and table of contents.

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