Good Science Communication – Break It Down Now

Before we delve too deeply into what makes good science communication, it would first behoove us to define what we mean – both by science, and communication. So! The first question of the day is: What makes good science?

There are currently a variety of hotly-contested fields such as homeopathy whose supporters protest that they ought to be recognized as valid and respectable. Why, then, are they not? What do they lack that keeps them from being welcomed into the multifaceted and diverse world of the sciences?

In a word? Evidence. Proof. Confirmation. To expand upon that slightly,  a rigorously tested and proven method of investigation involving peer-reviewed research and further study. A scientific theory does not say ‘this is true because we think it is’. It instead strives to disprove itself at every turn, always open to and indeed expecting refutation. Getting any group of scientists to agree on a definition for ‘good’ science may well be impossible, as under their own defintions they are always questioning, always ready to adapt and update their theories when new information comes along.

So what, then, is good communication? Is it merely being clear-spoken, so that your message is obvious? Is it watching yourself for overuse of jargon, so a wide audience can understand you? Is it injecting every story you tell with a sense of drama, to keep them reading on?

I believe all of these principles are useful in communication, however I would take it one step further and say that good communication is built on passion and dedication – passion for your topic and dedication to making it interesting and relevant to those to whom you are trying to convey it. There are myriad ways of communicating a message, but only people with the correct goals will actually get their message across – goals such as clarity, relevance, and decent support and explanation.

You may have the most fascinating information in the world to share ,and yet without paying attention to how you’re saying it, you may not reach a single soul. Without engaging with a wider audience science becomes insular and myopic, and for that reason alone it is valuable for scientists and science writers to continually strive to find the best ways to communicate their passions and interests to the wider world around them.

For an extremely unique and unorthodox method of communicating scientific information, click through here.

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3 responses to “Good Science Communication – Break It Down Now

  1. I’m glad to see some young scientists interested in science communication…and blogging about it. As a senior researcher, I’ve only belatedly recognized the value of communicating my work to broader audiences. I’ve tried to write a bit about various aspects of this topic on my blog. So I look forward to hearing what you two have to say….

    Interesting link, by the way. Science communicators often say that the amount of attention people pay to information changes as the communicator shifts the story to target the audience’s head, heart, gut, or groin (attention is positively related to distance from head). The story of that unorthodox urologist is one of the few instances I’ve ever heard in which a scientist managed to convey information literally at the groin level.

    • Jessamyn Fairfield

      We’ve both been looking at your blog, and we’re pretty amazed at the resource you’ve created for both science writing and women in science. I don’t know of a single scientist I’ve met in person who has gone so deeply into the mechanics of writing well. You are an inspiration!

  2. Pingback: jane wilson

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