Friday, November 19, 2010

And now for something completely different...

Mainstream science reporting drives me nuts. Studies are sensationalized, taken out of context, and misrepresented. I blame scientists.

The scientific community is reclusive. We publish in journals with specific audiences that only people affiliated with an organization with the resources to pay for expensive subscriptions can read. We speak is jargon and acronyms. We are best at communicating with other scientists and often expect people who are not in the community to know what we are talking about.  

This needs to stop. The focus needs to change.

We need to learn to communicate with the outside world. We need to stop having journalist reading our papers and try to translate them for a wider audience. We need to write in a way that needs no translation. We need to be more approachable. I argue that if scientist were better at communicating there would be no question to the validity of global warming, parents would vaccinate and people wouldn’t think that stem cell research is equivalent to killing babies.  

I recently published my first paper. I thought it was pretty good. I thought it was written well. I thought my family would be able to read it and understand it. I was wrong. Reading it now I realize that being apart of academia has made me lose touch with ‘normal’ people’s understanding. The average person doesn’t know (and has no need to know) what a transcription factor is or the importance of signaling pathway analysis.

I want to become a better writer. I want to communicate clearer and reach a wider audience.

I have made a personal goal of writing everyday (well, every weekday). I hope that by writing everyday my communication skills will improve and writing will come more naturally (and, cross your fingers, make writing my thesis go a little faster).
Oh, and maybe this experiment will help me get my dream job of being a science correspondent for NPR... hahahaa

My first challenge: Rewriting my paper for a blog audience!

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