Monthly Archives: January 2013


A Practical Step to Bridge the Divide Between Scientists and Journalists

Posted 28 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Frank Swain, a freelance science writer who has written for Wired, the Guardian and New Scientist, among other outlets. He also runs the SciencePunk blog. Since October 2011, Swain has also served as national coordinator (in the UK) for the BenchPress Project – which was established to provide reporters with training in science and statistics. I asked him to write this post, in part, because I think the BenchPress Project is very... Read more

Should PIOs Sit In On Interviews?

Posted 24 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

I recently had an interesting Twitter “conversation” about whether public information officers (PIOs) should be allowed to sit in on interviews between reporters and researchers. Some good points were raised, and I thought I’d talk about it a little here. In my opinion, there is no need for me to sit in on an interview between a reporter and a researcher. The researchers I work with are all grown men and women who are quite capable of handling themselves. Furthermore,... Read more

Science, People, Ideas and Agendas: an Interview with David Dobbs

Posted 22 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

Books can be powerful communication tools, and good writers can turn complex scientific subjects into spellbinding stories that are accessible by readers of all backgrounds – not just scientists and science enthusiasts. David Dobbs is one of those writers. Dobbs is the author of “The Northern Forest,” “The Great Gulf” and “Reef Madness,” and has written for The Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic and other outlets.  He also writes the Neuron Culture blog for Wired Science. I read... Read more

Preparing For an Interview, Part Three: Researchers (for TV and Radio)

Posted 17 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

To many researchers, the only thing more terrifying than doing a taped TV interview is doing a live TV interview. Going on live radio is only a little less scary. But if you are prepared, and don’t panic, TV and radio interviews can be very effective science communication tools. First of all, here are some numbers to explain why TV is so important. In March 2013, the Wall Street Journal had the largest circulation of any U.S.-based daily newspaper, with... Read more

What the Rosy Hare Told Me about Writing for Kids

Posted 16 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Preston, editor of the children’s science magazine Muse. Preston will be co-moderating a session on science writing for kids at ScienceOnline 2013. She writes about science for grown-ups on her blog, Inkfish.] In 2011 I received a strange email about a bunny. “We have a presenter here who is telling kids about the discovery of pink bunnies,” a woman working at a science museum wrote. “He said he read an article... Read more

Preparing For an Interview, Part Two: Researchers (for Print and Online Media)

Posted 14 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

Scientists are often nervous about being interviewed by reporters. This is often because they are worried that reporters will misrepresent their work or make them look foolish. Human ingenuity is boundless, so there is no foolproof way to ensure that reporters will get everything right. However, there are things that scientists can do to help ensure that they communicate their work effectively, and significantly improve the odds that their work is presented accurately. (Note: interviewing scientists is no picnic for... Read more

Preparing For an Interview, Part One: Reporters

Posted 9 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

Interviews between reporters and scientists are an essential aspect of science communication. But they are also a frequent cause of anxiety for both parties. Scientists sometimes find interviews nerve-racking, and fear that their work may be misrepresented. And reporters may be unsure of where to begin their line of questioning, and possibly find themselves frustrated by a researcher’s reliance on technical jargon. As with most things, preparation can be the difference between a good experience and a bad one. So... Read more

Don’t Panic: Challenges Regarding Science, News and Comments Online

Posted 7 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

A recent “Perspectives” commentary in Science on the importance of online science news – and associated challenges – has (unsurprisingly) gotten a fair amount of attention in the science communication community. Not all of it good. But I think that, at the very least, it presents a good opportunity to lay out some of those challenges and, hopefully, spark a productive discussion about how to address them. The commentary also refers to a forthcoming paper on the impact of online... Read more

Networking, ScienceOnline and How I Came to Write This Blog

Posted 2 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

People talk about “networking” all the time, and it is definitely a key aspect of science communication and outreach. But networking can be somewhat hard to define, and it is a difficult skill to teach. I’d like to take a moment to talk about networking and, by way of example, explain how I came to write this blog. Or at least how I think I came to write this blog. Networking is important for people in all aspects of science... Read more