Small step for scientists, large leap for science communication

It’s said that many hands make light work, but could that be true for science communication too? In an opinion piece in PNAS that came out last week (Kuehne and Olden 2015 http://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3585.full ), we propose that lay summaries – published online alongside traditional abstracts – are an efficient and needed science communication option in a changing media landscape. Communication of research is undergoing radical and rapid change through ever-increasing reliance on the internet, resulting in a shift from traditional top-down knowledge transfers to a “media ecosystem” (see figure below). Within this ecosystem, widespread adoption of lay summaries could substantially bolster current science communication efforts by creating reliable and direct pathways between scientists and diverse audiences including journalists, policymakers, resource managers, and the general public. We argue that it wouldn’t hurt interdisciplinary communication between scientists either! PNAS 2015 Mar 112(12) 3585-6, Fig. 1

Although lay summaries should enhance science communication across all disciplines, the need for broadly accessible research results is paramount in ecology and the environment. So we are taking this opportunity to urge journal editors and publishers in these fields to provide the platform for publication and incorporate requirement of lay summaries into their peer-review process.  If you support the inclusion of online lay summaries we hope that you’ll join us in signing an open letter http://washington.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bQIXBWeha7Aeahv to major ecology and environmental journals which will be sent on April 10th.

Thanks!

Lauren Kuehne and Julian Olden

University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Science communication in grad school: should you or shouldn’t you?

Taking part in education and outreach events: time well spent or a distraction on the way to a thesis?

Science communication in graduate school: time well spent or a distraction on the way to a thesis?

Spoiler alert: I am going to try to persuade you that all graduate students should engage in science communication.  In fact, our Freshwater Ecology & Conservation lab – made up of 3 master’s and 2 PhD students, 1 post-doc, 1 research scientist, and 1 early career professor – wrote a hot-off-the-press journal article in Conservation Biology about how graduate students can (and should) do science communication. But we know that grad students don’t have time to read any more papers, so a “Cliff Notes” version seemed in order.

If you are reading this blog, you may know something about science communication, by which I mean (very generally) talking about research to audiences other than scientists. Maybe you even have an opinion about it, something like “I wish I knew how to do that better”, or “If only I wasn’t so busy”. Or maybe you already dislike this post, because “I’m still learning how to DO science – I’ll figure out communicating it later!” Continue reading

Why I published in PLoS ONE. And why I probably won’t again for awhile.

By Andrew Tredennick

One morning as I was working on revisions for a paper I had submitted to PLoS ONE, this popped up on my Twitter feed,

and I immediately felt defeated. Had I chosen poorly when deciding to submit to PLoS ONE? Or, are those people that view PLoS ONE as “career suicide” just old-school professors who, for some weird reason, think papers don’t get reviewed at PLoS ONE? And, does that even matter, since I’ll need those same old-school professors to want to hire me in a couple years? Needless to say, my motivation for finishing the revisions waned. Continue reading

Fight for your papers?

By Kristin Marshall

So, you just finished writing a paper on a really cool project. Finally.  And you’ve gotten your co-authors to sign off on it.  Finally.  And it only took 15 drafts. Amazing. Now what? Where should you send it?  The blogosphere has been humming with discussion on where to submit your papers in the past couple months.  Check out Jeremy Fox’s advice over at Dynamic Ecology, or Ethan White’s at Jabberwocky Ecology, or our very own Nate Hough-Snee’s right here.

Rather than add my general philosophy to that discussion, I am going to give a concrete example of one of my papers and its trajectory from first submission to publication. Specifically, the paper I recently blogged about on Yellowstone willows that appeared in ProcB. Continue reading

Surprise! (??) Poll Results: Writing IS NOT an Inflexible Commitment.

Well, folks, it looks like very few of us actually protect our writing time. 92% of us ‘write a few hours a week’ or ‘fit it in when we can.’

Writing is our contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Writing is the means in which we ‘get our science out there.’ And, given the number of publications in circulation despite the competitive nature of the review process, we are clearly getting it done. But, one would think that this critical component of our careers would be our #1 priority.

So, why is it not a priority? Why is this time not carved out each week?

This data, of course, does not represent the breadth of the scientific community. Re-post? I think so. I challenge you to take the time to respond. ~ Sarah B. ~