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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Cutting through the jargon

Published: 2 September 2015

Biological Science students have been exploring different ways to communicate scientific research through a new module. The third years have risen to the challenge of explaining significant breakthroughs through trying their hands at writing an online blog, newspaper feature and scientific article for the Encyclopaedia of Earth along with producing a video.

Dr Declan Doyle leads the module: “A good scientist is a good communicator. It is important for professional scientists to be able to talk about their work in clear and simple language to inform the general public and motivate the next generation of students,” he says. “This module introduces them to the skills and techniques they will need to get the message across.”

BIOL3060 Science Communication Module
Student videos

He bans the students from using jargon and phrases such as ‘polymerase chain reaction’, commonplace in the laboratory but baffling to non-scientists, in their work. During the sessions, he teaches them the elements of interviewing before sending them off to interview Southampton’s leading biological scientists about their research.

Charlotte Pollins was one of the first to take the module and enjoyed the experience: “I’m a biomedical scientist and used to scientific analysis but it was refreshing to look creatively at the subject to get the message across,” she says. “I particularly liked making the video as part of a team of four*, but I found writing the blog post and newspaper article were particularly challenging as we just don’t write in that style in science.”

*Charlotte’s team members were Emma Howard, Santiago Romero and Sarah Hollebon. They worked with Professor Martin Glennie on the video ‘Immunotherapy: Is the cure for cancer within us’

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