Class handout for 3/19: Nutshell version of DePace for SciComm 2014: some key points about visual communication

Julie Simpson’s lecture on Ethics in SciComm is attached here: LSA 950 1403.

In-class lists of audiences and "variables" for SciComm
In-class lists of audiences and “variables” for SciComm
The whiteboard representing class discussion on 2/26/14, about various possible audiences for SciComm, and some of the ways they differ that might be important to communication strategies.
Shrinking research blurb exercise – done in class on 2/26/14


Week 7

Julie Simpson presented on the ethics of scientific communication and related issues. Her powerpoint is here: Simpson LSA 950 1303.

Week 6

From Beth Potier, UNH Media Relations:

How to get the word out on campus http://www.unh.edu/news/getting-the-word-out.cfm  and how to learn more about working with reporters:  http://www.unh.edu/news/press-tips.cfm

A blog link from a fellow public information officer
Deciding Which Journal Articles to Promote
A peek into the professional mind of a public information officer (PIO) at North Carolina State

Notes of links from the recent AAAS meeting on Science in the Media:

From Nature’s SpotOn blog, a Storify of Tweets from AAAS session on working with print, broadcast and online media: http://www.nature.com/spoton/2013/02/aaasmtg-working-with-print-broadcast-and-online-media/

From Nature’s SpotOn blog, a Storify of Tweets from AAAS session on communicating science to policy-makershttp://www.nature.com/spoton/2013/02/aaasmtgcommunicating-science-to-policy-makers/?WT.mc_id=TWT_NautreBlogs&buffer_share=77dc1&utm_source=buffer

From Nature’s SpotOn blog, a Storify of Tweets from AAAS session on engaging with social media: http://www.nature.com/spoton/2013/02/aaasmtg-engaging-with-social-media/

From Scientific American’s Scicurious Brain blog, another rundown on the session on engaging with social media: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/2013/02/18/aaas-science-and-social-media-recap/

And a rundown on the same session from AAAS itself: http://news.aaas.org/2013_annual_meeting/0214scientists-called-to-take-up-social-media.shtml

Blog from communications consultant: What NOT to do when communicating science to the public http://www.dontgetcaught.biz/2013/02/7-ineffective-habits-of-scientists-who.html

Google docs from sessions:  A New Social (Media) Contract for Science www.bit.ly/AAASsms

The Beauty and Benefits of Escaping the Ivory Tower  www.bit.ly/AAASbeit

Links from Beth’s presentation:










Also, Beth came across this great blog post in the Guardian about science writing:


And finally, Vaughn’s notes on Beth’s presentation:

A surprising number of major science journalists do not have science training. She covers both COLSA and CEPS in addition to office of Sustainability, a wide range of beats.

Finding the hook

600 words or less, with reporters as an audience. Major hooks include:

1)    Published research

2)    Grant

3)    Event

4)    Something new. The “ests” in the news business: newest, best, first, etc

5)    Ivins: What makes you angry, or what makes you laugh?

6)    So what? Save time, money, life?

7)    We want heroes, great leaps, decisiveness, etc. Not typical of science.

She notes a strong backlash against speaking in jargon. Speak as if you are talking to a drunk guy in a bar. The science isn’t the problem, it’s the language.

Put your hook first! Doesn’t have to be the facts first, but often is.

Features are rarer and have their own feel: start with a story. Rare opportunity for scientists.

How do you describe highly technical work? You are “dumbing it down,” but mostly distilling your broader impacts.

Story about bike-powered washing machine. Cool, but paired with a picture. Images, pictures, films are incredibly powerful.

Great examples of images and multimedia:

C. elegans Harlem shuffle on YouTube [link]

NASA: leaders of social media. Johnson style [link]

“quantum physics lindy hop” TedX. [link]

Rihanna video and chemical cues. [link]

Beth on the state of science journalism. Newspaper shrunk 40% in the last decade. 1989, 95 papers with science sections, now, only 19 science sections.  Ways to communicate have exploded, however.

She recommends that you practice saying your 1-2 sentences of distilled message over and over.

Beth’s office does media training, incl. video practice.  Be good to your reporters; they’re on a deadline. You can offer to verify quotes or fact-check some areas.


Week 5

Howland advice: 1) know your audience and 2) know your purpose

Consider multiple audiences, not “dumb it down”

Likes sciencenews [link] and Radiolab [link] as examples.

Editorial decisions to cover stories shapes priority. How do you prepare for controversy and shape the reply? (e.g. use feel, felt, found salesmanship)


Dorothy Nelkin book: http://www.amazon.com/Selling-Science-Covers-Technology-Revised/dp/0716725959

They Say, I Say: http://www.amazon.com/They-Say-Academic-Writing-Readings/dp/0393912752/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

To begin outreach, consider starting with your local university paper.

Week 4

A summary of what we as a class identified as major goals/needs in website/blog design for effective communication:

  1. In blog design, some desire more flexibility with fewer templates.  A possible solution is to identify the templates that are the most flexible (fonts, image order, header/footer, menus, etc) and post them here.
    • Specifically, font choice and spacing are key. Omit needless words, and use (in general) sans-serif fonts for online media and serif fonts for those appearing in print (or being printed).
  2. Goal: develop your online network to mirror your personal network
    • This might mean that you invest in helping your “nodes” help you by building their presence/content
  3. What’s fixed content (pages, CV, etc)? What’s flexible (posts, use of different media)? What’s intermediate (LinkedIn?)?
  4. Websites must be current with up-to-date information, or they’re worse than irrelevant.
  5. Needs/challenges: navigation bars on your site, contact information, head shot pictures, informative images
  6. Need: care for your content, using active voice, engaging pictures, etc.

A broader point that we considered is what characteristics define “effective” communication. Is it clear content that doesn’t frustrate the reader, or is it design/implementation that allows that material to be shared widely (using twitter-like synopses)?  How much does the reach of your content matter?

Week 3

Below is what I had written before class. Here is what we brainstormed together:

Media that you consume

Old: journal articles, books, newspapers 

Recent: online/print journal articles, science news magazines (online/print), books (infrequent), online news sources, forums

Now: online journals, online aggregated news, socially-shared media, blogs, wikis.

Media that you share or discuss

Old: Letters to the editor, conference proceedings, conversation, Usenet news groups, listservs 

Recent: forums, blogs, listservs

Now: online journals, customized aggregated news, professional blogs, personal blogs, twitter individuals and groups


Media that you produce 

Old: journals, books, letters to editor

Recent: journals, books, personal blogs, webpages, forums

Now: all of recent, plus many sites for presubmission (arXiv.org), twitter, blog communities, wikis, tumblr, etc..


Week 1

VC “lecture” examples

• Jonathan Eisen:
• Ed Yong
• David Dobbs
Why this course?
Things to come
Links from JAB’s powerpoint:
• archives
• information, education, outreach
• a sample of model organism sites
• Search and leverage archived/public information
• Community of expertise, with mechanism for reputation
• Build it and they will come? Wannabe go-to sites….
Jason Robert’s under-construction possible “Model Organism Central

2 thoughts on “Lectures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s