Eyeing CRISPR gene editing: Using eye tracking to assess what lay audiences look for to learn more about CRISPR and genetic engineering on Wikipedia

Abstract

CRISPR/Cas-based genome editing is a monumental leap in genetic engineering with considerable societal implications – but it is a complex procedure that is difficult to understand for non-scientists. Wikipedia has been shown to be an important source of information about scientific topics. But research on search, selection, and reception processes on Wikipedia is scarce. By means of eye tracking and survey data, this study investigates how users find information about genetic engineering and CRISPR on Wikipedia and what influences search behaviors and outcomes. An observational study was conducted in which 67 participants searched for general information about genetic engineering and specific information about CRISPR. Results indicate that participants looking for specific information about CRISPR searched shorter, visited fewer Wikipedia pages, and followed shorter and more straightforward search paths than participants looking for general information about genetic engineering. Moreover, prior knowledge and involvement affected users’ browsing behavior. Prior knowledge and search behavior influenced search outcomes.

Publication
In Environmental Communication, 14(7), 886–903.
Sankey diagram of search path (CRISPR search task).

Sankey diagram of search path (CRISPR search task).

Niels G. Mede
Niels G. Mede
Science Communication Researcher and PhD Student

I am a Research and Teaching Assistant at the Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ), University of Zurich, Switzerland. My research focuses on public opinion about science, populism and its implications for science and science communication, and survey methodology.