Communication Breakdown’s 2012 Roundup

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I launched Communication Breakdown a couple months ago with the idea of creating a platform to discuss all the different aspects of science communication. I haven’t tackled everything yet, but I’ve covered a lot of ground. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve discussed so far.

SciComm Basics

I’ve written quite a bit about what I think of as “communication basics.” These are a good refresher for professional writers and communicators, and a good introduction for researchers interested in scicomm.

These posts include a “Communication 101” post on the basics of planning any communication effort, and a post on unconventional metrics you can use to figure out if you are accomplishing your scicomm goals. Another post addressed how to handle a public mistake.

One of my most popular posts was a tip sheet for public information officers on how to pitch stories to reporters without being annoying. Judging from the feedback I got from reporters, this was very well received.

I’ve also tackled some questions about writing, such as how long a blog post needs to be and the challenges of writing about science for children.


Outreach is important, but challenging. I’ve talked about a couple aspects of it so far, including why social media is not necessarily a waste of time for scientists, and the role that institutions can (and should) play in facilitating outreach by scientists – or at least those scientists that are interested. I’m part of a panel that will be talking about this at ScienceOnline2013, so expect more posts on outreach issues.

Why SciComm Is Important

I’ve also written a lot about why science communication is so important (and it is important). So far we’ve talked about how scicomm can help you keep track of journal articles, may help boost article citations, and can definitely earn you good will from funding agencies. My most recent post in this series is a lot broader, highlighting the simple fact that science communication is important to the future of the planet, as well as the future of science itself.

Other Random Stuff

And I’ve touched on random items that I thought were worth discussing. These include eLife’s embargo policy and my use of the word “flack.”

November also saw my first Q&A with an author of popular science books. Specifically, my Q&A with author (and biology researcher) Rob Dunn. Expect to see more of these in the future. And you can also expect more guest posts, like the great piece from Emily Willingham on the human cost of bad reporting and Cynthia Graber’s post on the story behind her recent feature in Matter.

I hope all of this reflects the first post I published, where I said that the goal of this blog “is to help all parties – from scientists to science writers – do a better job when it comes to communicating about science.” We will not get better at this if we don’t share what we know. Hopefully, Communication Breakdown will continue to be a place to talk about issues facing science communication. Constructive dialogue can only help us.

I look forward to continuing the scicomm conversation in 2013!


3 thoughts on “Communication Breakdown’s 2012 Roundup

  1. K S Parthasarathy

    Your blogs are very useful for persons like me who strayed into journalism purely by chance. Though I started it as a hobby in 1977, I am still a toddler. I started reading your blogs after I read a complimentary reference about them by Deborah Blum in KSJ Tracker.

    Best wishes for an equally if not higher productive 2013


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