Zoos, Twitter, Outreach and Interviews: 2013 First Quarter Roundup

This image has nothing to do with anything, but I liked it. (Photo credit: ScooterZen/stock.xchng)

I give you: zoos, outreach, Ed Yong, Mary Roach, writing for kids, fear of online comments and how Deborah Blum prepares for an interview. And that’s not the half of it. The first three months of 2013 have been pretty lively on Communication Breakdown.

Because it can be tough to keep track of every post on a blog, I’m writing quarterly roundups of all the posts I’ve run here. Here’s what you might have missed so far in 2013. (FYI, the 2012 roundup can be found here.)

On Outreach

Two studies measuring the impact of science outreach efforts at zoos.

My post on the need for better metrics on science outreach outcomes. Also, I got great responses to a subsequent set of related questions.

On Writing

Because opening lines are crucial, I laid out four ways to open a science story.

I was also recently reminded that writing is actually a lot of fun.


David Dobbs, reporter and author

Jen Christiansen, artist and art director at Scientific American

Ed Yong, reporter

Mary Roach, reporter and author

Guest Posts

Frank Swain wrote about the BenchPress Project and bridging the gap between reporters and scientists.

Elizabeth Preston told us about what she has learned by writing about science for children.

Rachel Kaufman eulogized Google Reader, and asked what will replace it.

On Reporters and PIOs

How reporters prepare to interview scientists, featuring Deborah Blum, et al.

How researchers can prepare for interviews with print reporters, or for TV/radio interviews.

Should PIOs sit in on interviews? (My take: usually not.)

The prospects for the U.S. getting a Science Media Center. (And a subsequent update.)

My take on the pros and cons of embargoes.

Some thoughts on how research institutions decide which findings to promote.

I also laid out my list of cardinal sins for PIOs.


I discussed a study about online science communication and the impact of online comments.

I also wrote about networking, ScienceOnline and how I came to write this blog.

Finding metrics for art as a science communication tool.

I covered a study showing that doing outreach likely won’t hurt (or help) a researcher’s career.

And I discussed what a couple of studies tell us about how to get Twitter followers.

I also talked about the troubling findings of a recent study on gender bias in researcher-to-researcher communication efforts.

There are more good things in development for the next several months at Communication Breakdown, so stay tuned.


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