SciComm Lit Review: Sophia Burke reviews “Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style”

SciComm Lit Review: Sophia Burke reviews “Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style”

“If you have become frustrated, as I have, with the lack of action and public support of climate change research and proactive policy, this book will be an eye opener.” ~S. Burke

Book cover of Don't be Such a Scientist - just the title text, author's name (Randy Olson), and a small beaker with a martini olive in it

 

What is the reviewer’s motive and perspective? 

I am a fourth year PhD student at the University of New Hampshire studying the effects of climate change on small ponds in the subarctic. My interest in science communication has grown out of my love for my work and my eagerness to help inspire the next generation of scientists. I believe it is imperative that we as scientists fully understand our responsibility to connect with our audience and communicate our work and its importance as clearly as possible.

Who can benefit from reading and referencing this SciComm Lit? 

If you have become frustrated, as I have, with the lack of action and public support of climate change research and proactive policy, this book will be an eye opener. Though not necessarily a step-by-step guide to becoming a better communicator, this book will encourage you to stop and think about your own communication style and the styles of those around you. Dr. Olson has an unsympathetic view of scientist-communicators, blaming them (us!) for why the public doesn’t believe more strongly in climate change. He believes that scientists are too cerebral, too caught up in the details and nuances of their science, to communicate their messages effectively to the public.

While I don’t believe that all of the blame lies with us, the scientists, I do think it is important to understand how we can be part of the problem. In an age where people have so many options for entertainment and learning, we need to be able to hold their attention long enough to get our message across. Read more about SciComm Lit Review: Sophia Burke reviews “Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style”

SciComm Lit Review: Josh Silberg reviews “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating”

SciComm Lit Review: Josh Silberg reviews “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating”

“In many ways, Alan Alda represents an archetype of one type of audience member that people try to reach with their science communications. He is a non-expert. He’s interested in a range of scientific topics from health to psychology to ecology. He is exceptionally curious. If this sounds like one of your regular target audiences, then this book is for you.” ~J. Silberg

 

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What is the reviewer’s motive (expertise, curiosity, sharing lessons learned, etc.) and perspective (research scientist, educator, science communicator, etc.)? 

I’ve researched everything from humpback whales to whale sharks to rockfish—I just couldn’t decide on one creature to study. So I set out to find a career where no two days are alike. [Editor’s note: read Josh’s #MySciComm post for loads of details about how he found that career, in #scicomm.] Now, I’m the Science Communications Coordinator for the Hakai Institute—a British Columbia-based research institution where intrepid scientists from a variety of fields study the coast from the icefields down to the oceans. I help scientists at the Institute communicate coastal science stories through blogs, videos, infographics, and the occasional poem.

I’m fascinated by strategies that can be used to teach communication skills to scientists of all career stages. I’ve found that many scientists are keen to improve their ability to connect with diverse audiences both inside and outside their field of study, but they often don’t know where to start.

Who can benefit from reading and referencing this SciComm Lit (researchers, reporters, science communicators, educators, students, etc.)? 

Alan Alda’s book is especially useful for scientists, educators, science communicators, and students who are ruminating about how to better relate their science to a specific audience. It’s easy to try to reinvent the wheel, especially if we don’t regularly interact with people from other professional backgrounds. We can forget that other disciplines—in this case, acting and improv—offer valuable insight into our own fields. Read more about SciComm Lit Review: Josh Silberg reviews “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating”

SciComm Lit Review: Skylar Bayer reviews “Writing Science in Plain English”

SciComm Lit Review: Skylar Bayer reviews “Writing Science in Plain English”

I feel like I have found a reference to keep on my shelf for the rest of my career […] In fact, after reading Writing Science in Plain English, I want to go back and edit every journal article I have ever written. ~S. Bayer

WritingScienceInPlainEnglish-bookcover

What is the reviewer’s motive (expertise, curiosity, sharing lessons learned, etc.) and perspective (research scientist, educator, science communicator, etc.)? 

I am a scientist, a researcher, a science communicator, and a hopeful future educator. Currently I am a Sea Grant Knauss marine science policy fellow. I love learning how to communicate science in different and more effective ways. I went to school during an era without much instruction on the rules of grammar, and most of what I learned about the rules of writing in English was through osmosis. For at least a decade I have longed for a simple, effective guide on science writing.

Who can benefit from reading and referencing this SciComm Lit (researchers, reporters, science communicators, educators, students, etc.)? 

Writing Science in Plain English will be helpful for guiding any form of writing through which science needs to be communicated clearly to an audience – manuscripts, blog posts, popular science, etc. Undergraduate and graduate students may benefit the most from referencing Writing Science in Plain English. I wish I’d had this book when I struggled with learning how to craft more exciting (but accurate) text for my early papers.

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Some of Skylar’s marginal notes

I feel like I have found a reference to keep on my shelf for the rest of my career. As an educator, I would use this as a guide for teaching science writing and for editing student papers. As a researcher, I will definitely reference this book as I continue to write manuscripts. In fact, after reading Writing Science in Plain English, I want to go back and edit every journal article I have ever written. Read more about SciComm Lit Review: Skylar Bayer reviews “Writing Science in Plain English”

SciComm Lit Review: Jennifer Purrenhage reviews “Talk like TED: The 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds”

SciComm Lit Review: Jennifer Purrenhage reviews “Talk like TED: The 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds”

When I first read this book, I was so inspired that I set out to transform every lecture in my Gen-Ed course into a TED talk. ~ J. Purrenhage

talk like ted

What is the reviewer’s motive (expertise, curiosity, sharing lessons learned, etc.) and perspective (research scientist, educator, science communicator, etc.)? 

I am a scientist and a science educator. As a lecturer in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of New Hampshire, and the current Secretary of ESA’s Science Communication Section, I love reading about science communication, and about improving communication in general, both for selfish reasons (personal and professional development) and for my students. I teach the theory and practice of science communication to undergrad majors and non-majors in all my courses.

Who can benefit from reading and referencing this SciComm Lit (researchers, reporters, science communicators, educators, students, etc.)? 

Anyone whose objective is to communicate a story to a live audience (especially if you have watched TED talks and wished that’s how you reached your audience) can benefit from reading this book.

Gallo did not focus on science communication, but scientists are among his examples. The observations, insights, and tips included in this book will speak differently to each of us depending on our roles and our goals. I refer to this book when re-designing my lectures, mentoring students on preparing research presentations, teaching about science communication, and speaking to audiences of colleagues. Many students and colleagues have purchased their own copy of this book after borrowing mine or hearing my favorite tips.

When I first read this book, I was so inspired that I set out to transform every lecture in my Gen-Ed course into a TED talk. Read more about SciComm Lit Review: Jennifer Purrenhage reviews “Talk like TED: The 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds”

Announcing new SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series!

Announcing new SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series!

person_reading_a_book
By Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA (Ladakh) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Our SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series launches this week!

The Lit Review series features contributed reviews of books and other scicomm and engagement resources. Reviews provide unique content about lit that has direct or indirect relevance to the wide range of scicomm careers, approaches, and interests of Section members.

We seek SciComm/Engagement Lit Reviews (book review-style), and we welcome co-authored reviews. Read more about Announcing new SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series!