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Newcastle University

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Your subject-specific guide to using library resources.

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Science Communication

Support for communicating your research to a range of audiences, and identifying communication routes currently used by researchers at Newcastle University

Writing for a non-expert audience
 

You will find the following advice useful for writing, producing multimedia (video, podcast etc.) or giving a presentation. 

Before everything else: 

  • What do you want to communicate? 
  • Why do you want to communicate it? 
  • Who do you want to communicate with? 

Writing for specialist and non-specialist audiences takes time. It’s important to aim for brevity when writing about a scientific or technical subject.  

Draft an outline paragraph summarising what you will write about, why it’s important and how you will tell the story, including people involved, references to use etc. 

 

A few important things to keep in mind: 
  • Find the story within the science don’t use the science to tell the story. 
  • Be honest with yourself: what is the science really about and what or who is it for? 
  • Remove jargon on the spot unless it’s defined clearly and concisely, ok to add scientific detail but in plain language. 
  • Find a beginning, middle and end to your story. 
  • Stick with the facts. Don’t veer too far off course. 
  • If you are lost or stuck, return to the outline of the story or dig further into the detail. 
  • Breaking things up into subsections helps. 

 

Know your audience 

Before you begin, you should have some idea of the audience you are writing for. Writing for a manager in industry will usually be much different from writing for someone in government or a young person in school.  

Before you brainstorm or begin to do any ‘free writing’ it’s usually best to know who it’s for, however, sometimes it may be best to hack out the story first then adapt to the audience in mind. It’s up to you. 

To tailor your piece to your audience these questions should help: 

  • Why does it matter? 
  • Who does it matter to most? 
  • How will your audience read your story? 
  • When are they most likely to read it? 
  • What is your audience interested in?