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Let's Talk SciComm

49 EpisodesProduced by Unimelb SciCommWebsite

Hosted by Associate Professor Jen Martin and Dr Michael Wheeler, Let’s Talk SciComm is a podcast from the University of Melbourne’s Science Communication Teaching Program. Listen for advice, tips and interviews about how to communicate science in effective and engaging ways.Show notes, transcripts a… read more


6. How to improve your science writing

In 2014, Steven Pinker published a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled ‘Why academic writing stinks’. While we might take offense at the notion that our writing ‘stinks’, there’s no question that the way many of us have been taught to write as researchers and scientists can be difficult for our readers to make sense of. In this episode, Michael and Jen chat about why science writing can be so hard to read and a number of different approaches to improve the clarity and readability of our writing. We focus particularly on the style of writing that is most effective for communicating about science with non-scientific audiences.

Listen for our thoughts and advice on how to improve your writing plus tips from two of our UniMelb SciComm students, Randy Mann and Steven Tang.

Here are the papers we mentioned in the podcast:
Medical Obfuscation: Structure and Function. It’s really worth reading this short but pointed piece by Michael Crichton published back in 1975.
Specialized terminology reduces the number of citations of scientific papers. Research to suggest that if we want other scientists to cite our work, we should be avoiding using jargon – especially in the title and abstract.
UN climate reports are increasingly unreadable. Jeff Tollefson’s research into the readability of ICC climate reports.
The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time. More research highlighting that science writing is getting harder to read. And this has important implications for research reproducibility.
The growth of acronyms in the scientific literature. Research into the staggering increase in the use of acronyms in science papers since 1950.

And if you’re looking for some great science to read, some of our favourites are Belinda Smith, Dyani Lewis, Ed Yong and Carl Zimmer.


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