Strategies for Reaching New Audiences
Science outreach and communication is a critical way to improve science literacy and advocacy for evidence-based policy-making. Consider how you or your class might inform local decisions or advocate for evidence-based policy change through writing op-eds, blogging, or social media campaigns. There is a shortage of women and underrepresented voices writing Op-Eds. Including an Op-Ed assignment can encourage your students to recognize the power of their voice and of diverse voices.
Here are three brief tips/rules. First, try to hook the reader with an interesting, provocative opening sentence. Second, keep your focus on what you're trying to say, i.e., avoid tangents. Third, leave the reader with a memorable last sentence or phrase.
Additional "wisdom": 1) the editor reserves the right to edit by cutting word-length, including (and often) the title, so just accept this, 2) your best effort will come from several tries; get all your thoughts on paper initially, then work to tighten and focus, keeping my three rules in mind, and 3) the best pieces come in at around 500 words; in fact, this is a typical word limit that you'll often have to adhere to. In short, length does not matter, and it usually undermines the punch of your writing when it comes to op-eds. Good luck!
AAAS, 2017, Writing an Op-Ed
The Op-Ed Project, 2017, http://www.theopedproject.org/
Moni et al., 2006, Using explicit teaching to improve how bioscience students write to the lay public, Advances in Physiology Education - includes a rubric for Op-Eds that communicate science.
Blogs & Social Media
Blogs, podcasts, and social media help communicate science to diverse audiences. See the resources below to get started translating your work to the public, or helping your students engage others in science through communication. Organizations might consider hosting a blog, podcast collection, or twitter feed, and seeking guest contributors around themes.
- Developing Talking Points: Provides guidance on how to use your expertise or consensus documents to develop locally relevant talking points.
- Christina Farr, 2017, Why we need scientists on social media now more than ever, Fast Company
- Meagen Pollock, 2016, Social Media in Undergraduate Research
- Kelly Oakes, 2014, How to create a successful science blog, The Guardian
- Bora Zivkovic, 2013 How to break into science writing using your blog and social media, Scientific American
- Laura Guertin, 2017, What NOAA means to me, and how to "make it matter" to others, GeoEd Trek, AGU Blogosphere
- Robb Honeycutt, 2017, A perfect (Twitter) Storm, Skeptical Science