This workshop is for scientists and social scientists who need to communicate about their research to the public. That can mean helping decision makers to understand the data and their implications in order to make sound policy decisions, attracting investment or innovators to turn the research into reality, telling the media about the significance of research findings, or just creating wider awareness of the value of their work. Scientists and social scientists may be writing articles in their university research newsletter, briefing notes or reports to policy makers, web pages about their research programs, and so on.
Whatever the medium and the message, scientists need to write effectively about research, evidence and data.
Effective writing situates readers in context to help them understand where the information fits in a broader context. How do these results affect people? How will the policy change the way things are done? It relates often abstract or complex concepts to the real world. And it uses a writing toolbox to convey ideas through metaphor, analogy, visual images, and even humour.
Participants learn to assess the targeted audience in a communication. They understand the format of a public summary, media release, and news article, and how these differ from scientific or technical communications such as journal articles and abstracts. They will be able to explain scientific or social science concepts in everyday language, and bring ideas to life using the tools of prose. They will situate technical problems in a social context. By the end of the day, participants should be able to craft a clear and explanatory document for the public.
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Carolyn Brown is a writer/editor with more than 35 years’ experience. She has written speeches, press releases, news, book chapters, articles, brochures, web pages, and more. She has edited scientific journals and reports, including Canada’s Changing Climate Report. She is a regular contributor to the news service of the Canadian Medical Association Journal and writes features on biomedical research for Nature.