Scientists may believe science is absolute. But in reality – most science is not.
Almost all science is overturned after a certain time period. And nothing is definite. Even today – most theories are just that – a theory.
Is egg good for you? The role of statins. Impact of electronic radiation. The amount of exercise. Is electric truly eco friendly?
Every question is less of a last word and more of a argument in favor of a possible proposition! So here are the five questions every scientists need to answer to be a better science communicator:
1.Why did the problem bother you?
- “Fantastic Yeasts and where to find them: the
hidden diversity of dimorphic fungal pathogens”
This may be interesting to you. But unless you tell the world – why it did – its not that interesting to anyone.
As a case in point, two groups where told about a common outcome – a road accident ending in a mortality. However for the two groups the reason was changed.
The first group was told of how the driver had just heard his mother collapsing on the stairway in a cardiac arrest, and he was rushing home to her. The second group was told of his being high on drugs. And driving irrationally.
While the outcome was the same – the two groups treated the situation differently and the results as well.
So help the target audience understand the “human” you. Do not just present a paper at conferences and articles without giving a short background to your reasons.
2. So what did you do about it?
Now that the problem is a little more human – tell the world how you solved it. In science – the process defines the outcome.
Most scientists focus too deeply on the process. What is needed is for your target audience to explain just enough for your outcomes to appear valid.
For instance in the famous paper, Watson and Crick’s “A Structure for Deoxybribose Nucleic Acid”, they simply say that they worked on the structure of the DNA. Because it had biological interest.
3. How did you do it?
Proceed with caution here. Do not reveal to the extent that it can be replicated too easy. For instance: “Heat was applied to the process is enough”.
Not “Heat to 103 C”
4. What did you find?
Plain simple English here. Watson and Crick in their paper simply had a single figure in the paper which was the double helix. The image is now an icon.
5. What does it mean?
Most important. Many scientists forget to specify the exact implications of their discovery. More often than not they are so excited about the process, they forget to emphasize the impact!
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