Other Formats for Communicating Your Research
One of our main jobs as scientists is to communicate our findings to the science community. But, I think that many scientists forget about communicating their science to the wider community -- to scientists in other fields, non-scientists, or students. This lack of communication to the broader public may come out of a lack of knowledge of how to effectively and clearly communicate research to the broader public.
Despite this forgetfulness or uncertainty when communicating science to the public, it is terribly important to educate others about our research. In many grant applications, including those for the National Science Foundation (NSF), scientists must write a broader impacts statement with specifics on how this research will be shared with the public.
Thus, today I wanted to share six ways that you can share your research with the public. You may even consider adding your own version of these ideas into your broader impact statement, and don’t forget to follow through with what you say you’ll do!
Consider re-writing your research (or a specific article) in a concise and clear way to submit for publication in a popular journal. For example, my research focuses on Rhododendron, thus I frequently write articles based on my research to be published in the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society. Is there a similar journal that you can write for in your field?
So many people have social media these days. Do you have Facebook? How about Twitter? Have you considered sharing your research on these platforms?
Volunteer your time in a science class at a local school. Students of all ages get very excited to meet “real scientists” and it can be very rewarding to work with teachers to create unique and fun lessons, activities, and experiments to share with students.
Sure we all attend and present at conferences in our field, but how about presenting research at a club meeting or event? Many universities and colleges have events for adults in the local community. These events are a great way to share your research and give back to your community by engaging the local public.
Consider mentoring a budding scientist with their science fair project. As I mentioned in point three, students love to meet scientists. Helping a student with their science fair project is a wonderful way to work one-on-one with a student to achieve their science fair goals and learn more about the scientific process.
Are you a botanist? The Botanical Society of America sponsored PlantingScience is a great online venue for connecting with students and helping them with their own science projects. The commitment is minimal (only about 1-2 hours per week) and you really can make a huge impact with helping students understand the scientific process.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can contribute to science in your local community. Consider adding a few of these to your to-do list in the New Year or to your next broader impact statement in your grant application.