Coursera - Writing in the Sciences - Week 8

Continue with week 8, the final unit of this course.

8.1: Talking with the media
The main objective if you've published your paper which caught the attention of the media or journalists? Basically the media needs something for them to write a clickbait title (or newshook) to drive readership. You, as a researcher should focus on what is the take home newsworthy message and how that message will affect people.

When giving number, use whole number instead of percentage or fractions. For example, instead of "20% increased risk" (sounds alarming), it's better to write it as "eleven cases in ten thousands per year may be affected".

8.2: Panel Interview
Discussion with her three ex-students, Dr. Kit DelgadoDr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, and Dr. Eran Bendavid.

Each university has their own media relation person who are in charge of press release. Practice the interview with them if possible and go through the list of documents needed for the interview. Also, good to do background check on journalists who are interviewing you. On the safe, you can ask for the questions ahead of interview session.

Don't let the journalist mislead you to speculate on something. Refocus back to the original topic.

8.3: Writing for general audiences
There is a career in science writing. When writing for general audience, be concise, clear, and engaging (telling a story). Focus on the take home message (this has been stressed repeatedly over the course).

8.4: Writing a science news story
There is a format for this type of writing according to this structure.
(1) Lead. First paragraph (1 - 2 sentences) that is catchy and short.
(2) Nut Graf. 5 W's (who, what, where, why, and when) and 1 H (how).
(3) First quote (3 - 6 paragraphs) and bring in the human element (evidence or opinion).
Use noun-verb for attribution. For example,
Do this. "Blah blah blah...," Professor X said.
Don't do this. "Blah blah blah...," said Professor X.

(4) Body which includes what was done before, what was done in this study as in key experiments or key findings, and last implication or caveats.
(5) Kicker. Create parting thoughts for ending. Use quote if necessary.

8.5: Interviewing a scientist
Lecture given by Amy Adams, Directory of Science Communication at Standford.

How to interview and write for general public. For a start, no jargon.

What kind of questions that elicit good quotes? Here are a few.
(1) What is the significant of this work?
(2) Who will benefits from this work?
(3) What do you think when you got the result?
(4) What made you look into this question?

Use the quote as it. Don't modify the quote.

Anatomy of a interview. The steps as follows:
(1) Can you describe the key finding?
(2) Why is this important?
(3) How does that work?
(4) Is there anything you want to add?

8.6: Social media
Why we need to engage in social media? Promoting yourself, cause, brand, or institution. It also connect with other like minded person.

Effective of social media depends on what you want to measure. Focus on this before that using social media.

Engage but don't teach. In other words, create awareness.

8.7: Concluding Remarks
Effective writing and communication is essential to fence off an increase number of science

Learning Objectives
(1) Recognize the importance of communicating science with broader audiences.
(2) Be prepared to be interviewed by a journalist.
(3) Recognize the difference between writing for scientific audiences and writing for lay audiences.
(4) Understand the structure of a science news story.
(5) Learn tips for how to interview a scientist.

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