6 mins

Guiding “questions” for science communication – personal reflections

Science communication guiding principles

A few days ago, I was asked to articulate my “rules” for effective science communication. I don’t actually have a check-list for developing science communications (and I’m not sure that a rigid check list would be such a good idea).  But I do have an informal (and until now not clearly articulated) framework that informs ...

1 min

How to give the perfect scientific presentation

How to give the perfect scientific presentation

Too often, it seems, the mark of a “good” scientist is the ability to give an excruciatingly embarrassing and incomprehensible scientific presentation – the sort of presentations that litter academic conferences. Borne out of long-standing frustration, I posted a tongue-in-cheek 12-point plan for the “perfect” presentation on Twitter yesterday: How to give the best scientific ...

3 mins

Why do people read science blogs?

Benjamin Franklin and his ipad #3 750x400

Why do people read science blogs? Surprisingly, we don’t have a good answer to this.  There’s a vibrant online community of people blogging about science, and talking about blogging about science, and blogging about blogging and talking about science.  But we don’t know that much about the people that science blogs and bloggers set out to serve. This is ...

5 mins

Building trust between academics and journalists

As an academic, speaking with reporters can be nerve wracking.  The gut-wrench is palpable as you click on the article that follows, unsure of whether the person you spoke with has got it right, or created a train wreck with your name splattered all over it. Building trust Over the years, I’ve learnt to to calibrate ...

3 mins

So you want to write better science blog posts …

Anyone can blog about science.  But it takes effort and diligence to blog well. When I was teaching the Mind The Science Gap blogging course at the University of Michigan, it became clear early on that, no matter how enthusiastic or knowledgeable you are, there are some basic guidelines that can help make the difference between a great piece and a ...

7 mins

Less than 60% of university news releases link to the papers they cover

In an analysis of recent news releases from the top ten US universities, only 59% of them provided links to the peer review paper they were written about.  Over 30% did not cite the paper.  And less than 10% of the releases used DOI links to the peer reviewed paper. The analysis was based on ...

5 mins

Creating Poster Presentations that Tell Stories

This Friday my class of second year Environmental Health Science Master of Public Health students are going to get my admittedly quirky annual lecture on crating poster presentations.  Quirky, because I’m a little obsessive about the importance of story telling in posters, whether you are presenting research data or describing what you did last summer. Soup ...

13 mins

Confessions of a Scientist Communicator

I consider myself to be pretty self-aware.  It’s an illusion of course, but one I am usually blissfully ignorant of. Until some insightful reporter shatters it! This was me a few days ago.  I was talking with a journalist about science communication and the perils and pitfalls faced by young scientists.  As I got into my groove ...

2 mins

Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?

Cross-posted from Risk Sense “Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?” It’s the sort of question most parents have had to handle at some time – especially if you have pretentious kids who delight in telling you how pure pee is! It’s also the subject of the first post in this semester’s ...

2 mins

What happens when you cross a spider with a goat? Complete the story:

Complete the following: Setting: A well known and sometimes off-beat technology commentator explores new breakthroughs on a popular TV science and tech show. Story: Spiders’ silk is incredibly strong, but in short supply (ever tried harvesting silk from a spider?). So why not take the gene responsible for making spider silk, and splice it into ...

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