Scientists, what’s your communications strategy?

ChatBubblesI’m just starting to prepare some training for PhD students and early career scientists to help them become good communicators as well as top researchers.

I’m convinced that communication is not about personality, although if you are a natural storyteller then it is oh-so-much easier. But the best communication (and by ‘best’ I mean ‘effective’) is driven by strategy not charisma. Purposeful planning is the key.

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Filed under: Communication strategy,dissemination,University issues | Tags: , , , , | By Edwin on April 23, 2015 at 2:48 am

4 things to consider when hiring a freelance writer


Every organisation wants to attract attention. Perhaps you want to shout about your latest venture and product launches. Maybe you seek to engage a wide audience in your research project. Whatever it is that you want to say, you need to develop killer content and a comprehensive communications strategy.

But great writing takes time. Despite what most people think, good writing is a specialist skill. You could pass the task on to a colleague, but the chances are that unless they work in marketing, it’s not their core skill either. Perhaps it is time to find a professional for the job.

But a quick Google search shows that there are thousands of copy writers, copy editors, journalists, freelance communicators and media professionals waiting to mould your communications strategy. With so much choice, how can you possibly decide?

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Filed under: Tips | By Deborah on March 18, 2015 at 2:41 am

Outsourcing your communications: less stress, more impact

3038856950_2247f71cbc_o Thanks to all those gruelling lessons through school, we all can write. Need to draft a quick blog post, shape up a newsletter or prepare a product summary? No worries, just give me 30 minutes!

So why would anyone ever pay someone else to write for them? Surely outsourcing your communications to a freelance writer or agency is a luxury no business needs to afford.

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Filed under: Tips | By Deborah on March 12, 2015 at 2:42 am

A Round Up of the REF Results

After much anticipation, the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) were published on Thursday 18th. Universities across the UK received scores for the average quality and ‘power’ of their research with overall rankings presented in a league table.

Here we give you a complete round up of the key points from the REF results day and look forward to REF 2020.

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Filed under: Tips,University issues | By Deborah on December 19, 2014 at 7:44 am

Five Ways to Publish Accurate Press Releases

news scrabble Coverage of science news can be inaccurate, biased and sensational. So how can you, as a scientist, ensure that your research receives press attention but is reported in an accurate manner?

Although many scientists blame journalists for sensational coverage, research published in BMJ this week shows that press releases issued by universities play a key role in exaggerated coverage.

“Our research shows that most exaggeration in health-related science news is already present in the press releases issued by universities,” says Chris Chambers and fellow researchers in a Guardian article about the findings.

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Filed under: science writing,University issues | Tags: , | By Deborah on December 11, 2014 at 2:20 am

Twitter: five ways to keep your followers

Taking time to interact with people on Twitter will help to build a loyal and engaged following

Credit:  Rosaura Ochoa, Scientia Scripta, we love to write. But we know – from experience – that writing can be hard work.

You time is precious so blogging must give you some kind of a return on your investment.

But there are thousands of science blogs out there, so how can you make sure that your voice is heard above the noise?

The science shows that you must share your work on social media – especially on Twitter. However, enthusiastic tweeting is not enough: you need people to notice your tweets, click on your links and ultimately share your blog posts. You need to “tweet smart”.

We previously posted five top ways to share your blog on Twitter. But this level of sharing will only get you so far. To really spark your audience’s interest, you must build a loyal following and engage with your followers directly.

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Filed under: Tips | By Deborah on July 23, 2014 at 11:34 pm

REVI Insights: practical advice to help you embrace ‘impact’

REVI-logoScientia Scripta has launched REVI Insights to deliver concrete, practical and independent advice on the best ways to measure, monitor and communicate the impact of scientific research in your organisation.

As we prepare for launch, we are working with academics, research managers, impact officers and consultants to develop a range of guides, advice sheets and other content to support your ‘impact journey’. Please visit the REVI Insights website to find out more.

You can sign up to the REVI mailing list for newsletters, updates and a chance to win a day’s free consulting/copywriting (delivered by us!).

Calling all experts

If you are an impact consultant or, like us, if have supported universities on their impact case studies, REVI would like you to become a contributing expert. You will have the opportunity to share your experiences, offer practical tips, showcase your success and promote your impact-related services. All you have to do is subscribe to the mailing list and indicate your interest in becoming a REVI writer.

Filed under: Tips | By Edwin on June 27, 2014 at 1:12 am

Four ways to get the public talking about science

8128041091_4d05a276f6_bScience can be tricky. Engaging the public in science can be trickier still. Today most people read the news in digital formats ‘on the go’ and rarely have time to digest complexities and weigh up uncertainties – the bread and butter of most research. Unfortunately scientific evidence is often pushed out of the media by stronger forces: politics, business, fear and even emotion.

So how can scientists and science communicators engage the public in rational, insightful debates that focus on facts but also acknowledge that decisions and policies are rarely informed by impassionate, objective rationality?

One group giving it a good go is the team behind @talkfracking – a movement to promote public discussion about fracking in the UK. This week the team are touring Britain – from Glasgow to London to Nottingham – and staging free debates to get the public to #talkfracking. On Wednesday I attended the Manchester event.

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Filed under: Communication strategy,dissemination | By Deborah on June 17, 2014 at 3:03 am

Universities collaborate with industry to succeed

The impact agenda stimulates collaboration: universities thrive and boost the UK economy


In a recently published report Universities UK (UUK) revealed that the higher education sector contributes 2.8% to UK GDP. This is more than the basic pharmaceuticals, legal services and computer manufacturing sectors. Each year universities generate £73 billion in output and this has grown despite the recession: up 24% or £59 billion since the previous study five years ago.

“It is clear that universities are making an increasingly significant contribution to the UK economy, both in terms of contribution to GDP and creating jobs,” said Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President of UUK.

Collaborate or die?

Industrial collaborations may have stimulated this success. Following the recent research excellence framework (REF2014) assessment – in which 20% of a universities final score hinges on the demonstration of the impact of research – academics are now much more aware of the mutual benefits that collaboration can bring.

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Filed under: University issues | By Deborah on June 11, 2014 at 1:31 am

Eight easy ways to retell your impact story

The academic landscape is changing. Whilst blue skies research remains fascinating, research councils, funders and university assessors now want to know why your research matters. They all ask, “What impact will it make?”

Perhaps the work stimulates invention, changes policy or informs practise. Funders want to know how your previous work benefits society and how they will get value for money from future projects.

Image: Calvinius -

Today the Research Evaluation Framework (REF) is assessing British universities on their research impact; the results will be published later this year. But universities should not sit idly waiting for results.

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Filed under: Communication strategy,dissemination,science writing,Tips,University issues | By Deborah on May 23, 2014 at 6:56 am