Communicating beyond the academy

This morning I’ve been poking around the web site of the Public Philosophy Network, and I’ve come across a nifty little science-communication guide that I’d like to recommend to any scientist interested in communicating “beyond the academy.”

“Communicating Geographical Research Beyond the Academy: A Guide for Researchers,” is a product of the U.K.’s Royal Geographical Society. The guidance offered therein is by no means particular to geography and relevant to any natural or social scientific discipline. The guide addresses communicating with policy makers, business leaders, teachers, and students, as well as engaging “the public” in research.

A good list of “do”s and “don’t”s for communicating beyond the academy is offered (p. 5):

“Do be clear about your motives and the messages you want to convey.

Do research the audiences you are trying to engage; understand what they seek, and plan when and how best to reach them.

Do include rather than exclude through your style and language; avoid jargon, be concise and show enthusiasm.

Do learn from others and avoid reinventing wheels; seek partnerships and work collaboratively with experienced organizations.

Don’t expect it to be easy, especially if you seek measurable outcomes and impacts.

Don’t choose a medium you are not comfortable with.

Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and ask advice of others.”

As to talking with the press (p. 19), “do”s and “don’t”s are brief:

“Do talk to the press.

Don’t talk about things you have not studied.

Above all, don’t keep quiet.”

I heartily second all of the above!

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One Response to “Communicating beyond the academy”

  1. Rachel K Says:

    How about also: “Do familiarize yourself with your university’s policies on speaking to the press, as well as the policies of any journal you have a forthcoming article in.” I understand about Ingelfinger, but many scientists who don’t know the policies seem to err on the side of caution, which is frustrating to us communicators who just want to get the word out!


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