Science Comms.


If you only have 30 seconds: Where would science be without the ability to communicate? Newton, Darwin, Einstein – scientists who changed the world, not just by contributions to the academic community but also to the day-to-day understanding of science through effective communication. TReND’s focus on science communication aims to make effective and well-rounded science communicators of African researchers through improved academic writing, speaking, and methods of public-facing science communication.;

Science Communication

Year on year the number of papers produced by, or in collaboration with, African scientists is increasing, but still a great deal remains unpublished or unrecognised by the worldwide scientific community. This is not because the research from Africa is not of a significant quantity but rather because it is not always being recognised at the level is it due. For the increasing scientific development of Africa, an important component is for its research to gain access to internationally-recognised journals and to improve the standards of African journals through improved writing and scientific literacy.

Though publication in scientific journals is important, it is only one part of the communication of science. Scientists can use blogs, social media and public science events to spread the word about their research and reach an audience beyond those who would read journals. The use of traditional media, such as newspapers and radio, can also not be underestimated.

With the course in Science Communication, TReND wants to empower scientists to communicate their research to all levels. Our students will gain knowledge on the scientific writing process and what makes a good paper, as well as how to translate that research into a language that can be understood by the wider society. We love to see our students applying what they have learnt when they have returned home after the course, and are particularly happy to see news submissions to international journals, blogs set up, and articles published in newspapers.

Events

  • Zomba, Malawi (2015). 1 week course on Scientific Writing and Communication. In partnership with the Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa), Kenya. Sponsored by Elsevier Foundation, Sunbird Hotels Malawi, Indiegogo crowdfunders and Mendeley.

Want to learn more?

  • Andrew Beale was interviewed by Research4Life for their blog about the 2015 course
  • The Research4Life blog often has infographics and articles with advice for scientific communication, and a training portal for online resources.
  • AuthorAID has many web-based resources for scientists at all levels. Of particular interest is the mentorship programme which partners researchers in developing countries with experienced scientists to work together on research design, writing and publication.
  • COPE (Committee of Publication Ethics) reminds researchers of their responsibility when it comes to communicating research, especially in academic journals.
  • F1000 Posters, a repository of scientific posters, can help when designing.

 

Why it is important

Skills in science communication underlie a scientist’s entire career. It is not just the ability to write a paper that is necessary, but in an increasingly connected and engaged world, an ability to communicate complex data to the non-specialist is key. Strengthening the capacity of the scientist to communicate their research more effectively will result in better science and a better informed society.

Why it is unique

The skills of scientific writing and public speaking are not often taught in graduate and post-graduate courses throughout the world and are often only picked up through trial-and-error. This course complements TReND’s topic-based courses by offering students the chance to develop these often-forgotten skills in an interactive and practical-based course.

Who we target

African researchers at the graduate and post-graduate level are particularly welcome, with post-doctoral and established researchers welcome when the course suits a more advanced audience.

Scalability

Participants are encouraged to share what they have learned on return to their home institutions through giving journals clubs and departmental talks, and by sharing their skills during collaborations with colleagues.