Sarah: Today I was delighted to be on a science journalism panel at a forum hosted by the Australian Academy of Science: Pathways 2015 – Effective Science Communication for EMCRs (#SciPath15). In the esteemed company of Niall Byrne, Reema Rattan, Nicky Phillips and Cassandra McIver, these are the 5 main points I tried to convey:
- Although you may not realise it, you have already learnt a whole lot of comms skills as a scientist. Be confident! And practise, practise, practise.
- Being ‘known’ in the broader population as someone with good comms skills can pay off for your science career – both in terms of being a better communicator, but also in terms of being a recognised expert, and someone who ‘gets’ the importance of talking outside of their niche field.
- The more you write, the better a writer you will be. Yes, publications and grant applications are top of the rung of course. But other writing will help you sort through what really matters in your research, and how to best explain it to different audiences in different styles. Writing articles for The Conversation, blogging, Facebook, twitter….all help you distill the essence of what it is that you do.
- Developing your capacity to talk outside of your field may help you find alternative careers in the future. Even within research.
- The world of research is changing, and will continue to do so. The way research is funded may be fundamentally different in 5, 10, 20 years. Imagine a world where most research is funded by private enterprise…are you going to be able to talk to those industry groups? investing in your science communication skills now will set you apart from others who only know how to talk to researchers.