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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-297
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Education and communication 25 Jun 2018

Education and communication | 25 Jun 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Flooded by jargon: how the interpretation of water-related terms differs between hydrology experts and the general audience

Gemma J. Venhuizen1, Rolf Hut2, Casper Albers3, Cathelijne R. Stoof4, and Ionica Smeets1 Gemma J. Venhuizen et al.
  • 1Science Communication and Society, Leiden University, the Netherlands
  • 2Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
  • 3Heymans Institute for Psychological Research, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  • 4Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Abstract. Communication about hydrology-induced hazards is important, in order to keep the impact of floods, droughts et cetera as low as possible. However, sometimes the boundary between specialized and non-specialized language can be vague. Therefore, a close scrutiny of the use of hydrological vocabulary by both experts and laypeople is necessary. In this study, we compare the expert and lay definitions of 12 common water-related terms and 10 water-related pictures to see where misunderstandings might arise both in text and pictures. Our primary objective is to analyze the degree of agreement between experts and laypeople in their definition of the used terms. In this way, we hope to contribute to improving the communication between these groups in the future. Our study was based on a survey completed by 34 experts and 119 laypeople. Especially concerning the definition of water-related words there are some profound differences between experts and laypeople: words like river and river basin turn out to have a thoroughly different interpretation between the two groups. Concerning the pictures, there is much more agreement between the groups.

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Flooded by Jargon C. Albers, G. Venhuizen, R. Hut, I. Smeets, and C. Stoof https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/WK9S6

Gemma J. Venhuizen et al.
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Short summary
Do experts attach the same meaning as laypeople to terms often used in hydrology such as river, flooding and downstream? In this study a survey was completed by 34 experts and 119 laypeople to answer this question. We found that there are some profound differences between experts and laypeople: words like river and river basin turn out to have a thoroughly different interpretation between the two groups. However, when using pictures there is much more agreement between the groups.
Do experts attach the same meaning as laypeople to terms often used in hydrology such as river,...
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