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Study: Talking To Reporters Can Boost Scientific Impact (And So Can Twitter)

Posted 23 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

A recent paper in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly highlights the role of public communications in boosting a researcher’s profile in the science community and finds that Twitter appears to increase the impact of those public communication efforts. This is only the latest article to link news coverage of research to scientific impact (I’ve written about related research here and here), but the new paper does a few things I haven’t seen before. First, it looks at a number of... Read more

Can Public Relations Be Science Communication?

Posted 22 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

In its most recent issue, the Journal of Science Communication raises the question of whether public communication efforts from research institutions are public relations or science communication. To address the question, the journal has published five commentaries, each of which covers a specific aspect of the issue and takes a different position. I wrote one of the commentaries. The commentaries (all of which are open access and can be found here) include an introductory piece by Rebecca Carver, who sums... Read more

Where Do You Go To Learn About The Practice of Science Communication?

Posted 18 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Ion Chibzii, via Wikimedia Commons.

Where do you go for information about the practice of science communication? I’m asking not only because I’m always looking to improve my own science communication efforts, but for a personal, selfish reason. In fact, I’m not sure how to write about this without simultaneously confessing my own ignorance AND sounding self-congratulatory (a singularly off-putting combination). I really do want to know where I can learn more from other science communication practitioners and I really do have selfish reasons for... Read more

Choosing Between Blog Posts and News Releases

Posted 5 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

LEFT: Greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora). Photo credit: Lauren Nichols, YourWildlife.org. RIGHT: Demodex folliculorum. Image credit: USDA, Confocal and Electron Microscopy Unit.

In my day job, I’m a public information officer (PIO) at NC State University. Part of my job is to pitch research stories to reporters, and two of the tools I use when pitching stories are blog posts and news releases. This post discusses two examples that shed some light on how I decide which tool to use. The Similarities Earlier this summer, researchers came to me with two forthcoming papers. They had a lot in common. Both papers were... Read more

Science Borealis – Lighting up Canadian Scicomm

Posted 25 August 2014 by Matt Shipman

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jenny Ryan, a communications manager at Canadian Science Publishing and a founding member of the team behind the Canadian digital science salon Science Borealis. Ryan writes here about the evolution of Science Borealis from concept to reality, lessons learned during that process, and what the project’s organizers hope to do next. What happens when a bunch of Canadian science bloggers team up? Well, in the case of Science Borealis they turn their... Read more

A General Overview of reddit’s Science Communities

Posted 12 August 2014 by Matt Shipman

The reddit logo is used with permission.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Victoria Taylor, director of communications for reddit. Taylor’s job is to work with “the media, talent, organizations and others that want to optimize their interactions with the reddit community.” For an introduction to reddit, see my beginner's guide to reddit. Are you someone in the STEM fields, or an enthusiast on scientific related topics? If so, you may be familiar with some of reddit’s science communities. Redditors love science and as such,... Read more

Institutional Blogging: Do You Really Want To Do This?

Posted 4 August 2014 by Matt Shipman

So you want to start a blog... (Photo credit: Osorio family album, via Wikimedia commons.)

Someone where you work (maybe it’s you), says: “Maybe we should start a blog.” Why not? Lots of people have blogs, and some of them are really popular. So maybe your office should start a blog about all of the stuff going on at your university, research lab, department, or whatever. After all, you’re doing stuff that’s really cool and you want people to know about it. But then the questions start. How much would it cost? Who would write... Read more

One Way To Highlight Diversity in STEM Fields

Posted 29 July 2014 by Matt Shipman

Image courtesy of North Carolina State University.

The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known collectively as STEM) have a diversity problem. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that women, African Americans and Hispanics are significantly under-represented in STEM fields. For example, in 2011, 11 percent of the U.S. workforce was African American, while 6 percent of STEM workers were African American. And while Hispanics made up 15 percent of the workforce, they made up only 7 percent of STEM workers. Women made up 48... Read more

Why a Bunch of Science Writers Are Writing About a Fictional Planet

Posted 22 July 2014 by Matt Shipman

Image credit: Vincent Carrozza, at www.6amcrisis.com and www.fb.com/vincent.carrozza

Tatooine is a desert planet, home to Luke Skywalker and Jabba the Hutt, as well as a menagerie of large beasts: banthas and dewbacks, krayt dragons and sarlacci. Tatooine is also, of course, not a real place. Science writing aims to convey ideas, engaging and educating readers on topics from biology to astronomy. Because science writing is focused on real efforts to understand the real universe, you might reasonably ask why a collection of science writers have chosen to spend... Read more

Scicomm Accessibility: Accessing Scicomm Journals

Posted 8 July 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Nevit Dilmen

Science communication researchers aren’t the only people interested in science communication research. Reporters, bloggers and researchers from various fields interested in sharing their work (among others) are interested in learning what “scicomm” can tell us about conveying scientific information to various audiences. But reaching the relevant research findings can be difficult. I doubt that most people expect scicomm research to give us a specific prescription for how to communicate effectively. Research doesn’t work that way, and most of us know... Read more