The Center for Communicating Science is happy to provide on its website up-to-date resources that writers and scientists can use to improve their communication skills.
The first section of the resources page suggests resources for writing, presenting, and improvisation, along with communication tips from center director Patty Raun and advice from science educators collected by student intern Luci Finucan.
Virginia Tech offers a wide variety of graduate and undergraduate courses related to communicating within specific professions, including grant writing, scholarly writing and presenting, and more, and we provide lists of relevant courses in the second section of our resources page. Some colleges on campus provide programs tailored to improving communication to various audiences, such as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Graduate Teaching Scholars and Graduate Extension Scholars programs, both aimed at helping graduate students “translate the science,” says GTS coordinator Donna Westfall-Rudd.
Other campus resources include the Virginia Tech Writing Center, located in Newman Library, a free writing assistance service for students, faculty, and staff. The Virginia Tech Comm Lab provides help to students to develop their public speaking skills. It is run by students, for students. New in 2019, the University Libraries’ Advanced Research Skills program provides students with online modules that teach research skills, including writing successful proposals and sharing one’s research through poster presentations and ePortfolios.
Many resources exist beyond Virginia Tech. Institutions and organizations across the United States offer free resources for those who want to help scientists and others communicate more effectively.
National Public Radio hopes to connect young scientists with people who are passionate about science communication through their NPR Scicommers project.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has many resources, such as the CDC Clear Communication Index and Everyday Words for Public Health Communication, to help people develop public communication materials and to help translate science into plain language.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) provides a communication toolkit to help improve scientists’ communication skills. AAAS also has launched a service called SciLine, which connects scientists to journalists and other communicators and provides accessible summaries of newsworthy scientific advances.
In 2012, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) hosted a colloquium titled “The Science of Science Communication.” A second colloquium on the same topic was held the following year. In 2017, the NAS published “Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda” and other summaries of the colloquia.
In addition, The Science and Entertainment Exchange, a project launched by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), matches scientists with film and television directors and producers to provide information and guidance during screenwriting and production.
In 2010, the Plain Writing Act was signed into law. At plainwriting.gov, you can find guidelines for understanding your audience, writing clearly and concisely, organizing your information, keeping your writing conversational, and more.
The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University trains scientists and health professionals to communicate more effectively with the public, public officials, the media, and others outside their disciplines.
If you know of additional resources, on or off campus, please let us know so we can add them to our resources page. We want to provide as much information as possible!
By Kendall Daniels, Center for Communicating Science student intern