Communicating Science

Why We Need to Talk About Science

Did you know that according to a recent survey, at least 27% of Americans are still somewhat skeptical about science?

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are making amazing discoveries that have the potential to transform science and medicine, but we aren't always great at telling the public about our work and why it matters.

Through workshops, competitions and community events, we're committed to helping our researchers find engaging new ways to share their work with the public.

We hope you'll join us in spreading the word about science and the valuable role it plays in improving healthcare here at Mass General and across the globe.

Competitions

We have organized a series of communicating science competitions in collaboration with city-wide festivals such as HUBweek and the Cambridge Science Festival.

These fun, American Idol-style events give researchers an opportunity to present their science to live audience and receive feedback from a panel of celebrity judges.

We also host educational workshops that provide our researchers with training and advice from leaders in science communication, including speakers from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and nationally-known science communication expert Melissa Marshall.

Community Events

We are also working in the community to connect with science enthusiasts of all ages.

Our participation in the Cambridge Science Festival’s family-friendly Science Carnival and Robot Zoo was a way to engage the next generation of scientists through interactive games and activities.

Our inaugural Spring 2018 Science Slam at a local pub was a huge success, and we have plans to host a series of similar on- and off-campus events in the future.

Through videos, exercises, and lectures, these presentations provide invaluable tips for identifying and overcoming barriers to good science communication.

Online

In addition to our in-person events, we regularly share tips and resources for being effective science communicators on our blog, through email and by social media.

Why Good Science Communication is Crucial

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD, Director of the Mass General Research Institute, encourages researchers to take an active role in explaining their science to the general public.

For the past two years during the annual HUBweek Festival, we have hosted an Art of Talking Science Competition, where researchers from Mass General and other local science institutions have the opportunity to give a four minute presentation on their science and get feedback from a panel of judges.

In November of 2017, we invited the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science to Mass General for "How to Explain Science and Influence People" an interactive event that focused on helping researchers craft short, clear statements about what they do and why it matters.

We have also hosted two science communication events as part of the annual Cambridge Science Festival, and we continue the conversation on our blog with tips and helpful links for great science communication.


Our Eight Great Tips for Communicating Science

1. Keep it simple—focus on a few key points and stick to them
2. Start with a bang—open with an interesting story to grab the audience's attention
3. Use plain language—avoid scientific jargon whenever possible
4. Set the stage—what is the problem you are trying to solve, and how are you trying to solve it?
5. Explain the process—how is your approach unique?
6. Plot your course—where are you in the process? Where did you start? Where do you hope to arrive?
7. Save time for questions
8. Smile, make eye contact, speak up and have fun!


Communicating Science Links and Resources

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