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Talk like an expert: the construction of expertise in news comments concerning climate change.

Coen, Sharon; Meredith, Joanne; Woods, Ruth; Fernandez, Ana


Sharon Coen

Joanne Meredith

Ana Fernandez


This article explores how readers of UK newspapers construct expertise around climate change. It draws on 300 online readers’ comments on news items in The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Telegraph, concerning the release of the International Panel on Climate Change report calling for immediate action on climate change. Comments were analysed using discursive psychology. We identified a series of discursive strategies that commenters adopted to present themselves as experts in their commentary. The (mostly indirect) use of category entitlements (implicitly claiming themselves as expert) and the presentation of one’s argument as factual (based on direct or indirect technical knowledge or common sense) emerged as common ways in which readers made claims to expertise, both among the supporters and among the sceptics of climate change science. Our findings indicate that expertise is a fluid concept, constructed in diverse ways, with important implications for public engagement with climate change science.


COEN, S., MEREDITH, J., WOODS, R. and FERNANDEZ, A. 2021. Talk like an expert: the construction of expertise in news comments concerning climate change. Public understanding of science [online], 30(4), pages 400-416. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 30, 2020
Publication Date May 1, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 27, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 27, 2020
Journal Public understanding of science
Print ISSN 0963-6625
Electronic ISSN 1361-6609
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 4
Pages 400-416
Keywords Climate change; Expertise; Online news; Comments; Media
Public URL


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