The Science of Communication

February 13 / 103

Sila Genc, postgraduate research student at the Melbourne Brain Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Sila Genc, postgraduate research student at the Melbourne Brain Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital.


Scientists can often get caught in the realm of ‘scientific writing’ which is dense and hard to read.

 

‘It is hypothesised the therapeutic effect of the drug in question will result in a smaller decrease in fractional anisotropy in neuronal fibres prone to white matter degeneration, compared to placebo.’

This is a statement that would have fit well in my Masters thesis prior to my engagement in science communication.

Fortunately I have been exposed to how vital communication is for scientists, and I actively sought out opportunities to help me gain such skills.

Scientists can often get caught in the realm of ‘scientific writing’ which is dense and hard to read. As a postgraduate research student, I find the heavy language used in some peer-reviewed publications difficult to digest.

After all, we do not speak using heavy jargon - as is used in scientific literature - so why don’t we write as we speak? If we engage in scientific research to eventually benefit the public, it seems unreasonable that it is not our audience. In a world where scientific discoveries are contributing to better quality of life, communities should have access to scientific knowledge. This may only be achieved if our academics and educators consciously make the effort to target lay people, not scientists, when communicating science.

Imagine a community of minimal sceptics, because the general public will have the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about the effects of  scientific breakthroughs. Whether you look at climate change, or the effects of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine on autism rates, it is clear that people should be well informed in science.

So how can we make a change? Scientists can make publications and textbooks easier to read without losing the scientific message. Teachers can make science more fun for students by explaining concepts through humour, metaphors and storytelling. Science communication is essential for ensuring science is portrayed in its truest form - it just takes a little effort and awareness to go a long way.

Perhaps I will now simply state: ‘We believe the drug will work’.

You can catch my science communication radio show, showcasing research students and scientific discoveries, on Sundays at 3pm on SYN 90.7 FM.

Sila Genc is the host and producer of ‘The Science Hour’ and a postgraduate research student at the Melbourne Brain Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Editorial Enquiries

Got a story?

Staff are encouraged to submit stories. There are some important steps in preparing a media-ready story.  Email musse-editor@unimelb.edu.au

Share/Save