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Effective Science Communication (Second Edition)

A practical guide to surviving as a scientist
Sam Illingworth, Grant Allen


Being a scientist in the 21st century can be extremely demanding. In addition to conducting exceptional research we are expected to communicate it effectively to a variety of audiences, from scientists and students to policymakers and press officers.

This book provides a roadmap for how to disseminate your research findings in an engaging manner via a range of channels, such as scientific publications, press releases, social media and outreach. Furthermore, by providing advice and worked examples on how to fund and publish your research, develop additional skills and support inclusive practices, this book provides a comprehensive handbook for how to be a successful scientist.

This second edition brings the text up to date and includes additional material, while retaining the combination of clear insight and practical advice that made the first edition essential.

The cliché is that scientists are not good communicators. Even so, it is rare to read a book that is evidently useful from the title, that is obvious in retrospect but only in retrospect, that provides new information and is a joy to read. For graduates of the school of hard knocks (i.e., life), much of the information in the book has already been (sometimes painfully) learned or is a head slapper. But for those more junior, the book does an outstanding job at providing both a roadmap and detailed set of instructions on when and how to best communicate.

A few to-be-expected (but highly useful) chapters deal with writing research papers, seeking funding and presenting at conferences, after which the book delves into outreach, communicating to media and working with policy makers. Each chapter has hands-on "exercises" that get the reader to practice some of the newly acquired skills, such as write a blog, prepare for peer review or develop an audience plan for a talk. Each chapter also includes charts, checklists, resources for further study, suggested readings and a formal set of references. For those past the middle of their careers, if there were a time machine available, this is one book worth sending to a younger self. And for those just starting a career in science, or for just about anybody without a degree in communications, this is one book that should be required reading.

Bogdan Hoanca 2020 Optics & Photonics News, The Optical Society, USA

About Editors

Sam Illingworth is Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, with a background in the atmospheric sciences and expertise in public engagement and outreach. Sam writes several successful blogs, has been an invited keynote speaker at dozens of international conferences and symposia, and has provided science communication training for more than 3,000 scientists.

Grant Allen is a professor of atmospheric physics at The University of Manchester and is currently the director for the environmental science degree programme there. He is an editor for several journals and contributes to a range of scientific strategy advisory committees, he has featured in many popular science documentaries, has been interviewed live on BBC and Sky News channels, taken part in more than 40 radio interviews, and he has provided expert comment for many hundreds of newspaper articles relating to air quality and climate.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Publishing Work in Academic Journals

Chapter 3: Applying for Funding

Chapter 4: Presenting

Chapter 5: Outreach and Public Engagement

Chapter 6: Engaging with the Mass Media

Chapter 7: Establishing an Online Presence

Chapter 8: Science and Policy

Chapter 9: Other Essential Research Skills


Hardback ISBN: 9780750325189

Ebook ISBN: 9780750325202

DOI: 10.1088/978-0-7503-2520-2

Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing


Even the most groundbreaking scientific research is of little use if it can't be communicated to the broader scientific community, and to the general public, in a cogent and timely manner. Nevertheless, many scientists struggle to disseminate their results successfully. Effective Science Communication: A Practical Guide to Surviving as a Scientist, by Sam Illingworth and Grant Allen, aims to help researchers do just that. Both authors are successful researchers, and they base their narrative on their extensive personal experience. Comprising nine chapters that work both independently and as a whole, Effective Scientific Communication is a useful handbook for anyone in the scientific world.

The authors did a commendable job outlining effective writing and speaking techniques. I also enjoyed the quotations at the opening of each chapter—the cartoons included there are simply delightful! One gap that could be addressed in future editions is a discussion of listening and reading techniques, which take up much of a researcher's time and complete the circle of scientific communication. Nevertheless, this text is a solid manual for novice and established researchers alike.

Raj Chhabra,
Indian Institute of Technology, India 2021 Physics Today American Institute of Physics Publishing

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