Practical science communication strategies for graduate students.
Conserv Biol. 2014 Oct;28(5):1225-35
Authors: Kuehne LM, Twardochleb LA, Fritschie KJ, Mims MC, Lawrence DJ, Gibson PP, Stewart-Koster B, Olden JD
Development of skills in science communication is a well-acknowledged gap in graduate training, but the constraints that accompany research (limited time, resources, and knowledge of opportunities) make it challenging to acquire these proficiencies. Furthermore, advisors and institutions may find it difficult to support graduate students adequately in these efforts. The result is fewer career and societal benefits because students have not learned to communicate research effectively beyond their scientific peers. To help overcome these hurdles, we developed a practical approach to incorporating broad science communication into any graduate-school time line. The approach consists of a portfolio approach that organizes outreach activities along a time line of planned graduate studies. To help design the portfolio, we mapped available science communication tools according to 5 core skills essential to most scientific careers: writing, public speaking, leadership, project management, and teaching. This helps graduate students consider the diversity of communication tools based on their desired skills, time constraints, barriers to entry, target audiences, and personal and societal communication goals. By designing a portfolio with an advisor’s input, guidance, and approval, graduate students can gauge how much outreach is appropriate given their other commitments to teaching, research, and classes. The student benefits from the advisors’ experience and mentorship, promotes the group’s research, and establishes a track record of engagement. When graduate student participation in science communication is discussed, it is often recommended that institutions offer or require more training in communication, project management, and leadership. We suggest that graduate students can also adopt a do-it-yourself approach that includes determining students’ own outreach objectives and time constraints and communicating these with their advisor. By doing so we hope students will help create a new culture of science communication in graduate student education.
PMID: 24762116 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
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