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What is science communication?

A science demonstrationWorking in science doesn’t always mean research. Science communicators bring the wonders of science to the public.

What is science communication?

Many people find scientific ideas difficult to understand - or simply don’t see why they are important. For this reason, science communication is becoming a bigger and bigger area. Sometimes, it’s an added extra for scientists who are already in more traditional research roles, but it can also be a career in itself.

Science communication can take many forms, such as:

  • freelance work writing for magazines, newspapers and websites
  • writing books
  • offering an expert view to films, TV programmes and other productions
  • running museum exhibitions and science festivals

If it gets people listening and you can bring science into it, then it fits - in fact, one great skill for science communicators is finding all-new ways to bring science to the public.

How do I get into it?

If you’re going into another science role, such as a research post at a university, then you can start small with occasional science communication work on top of your usual work. This is useful because many of the fields science communicators work in, such as journalism, are very competitive.

If you want to dedicate your career to communication, you’ll need to be more prepared. Some things you can do to increase your chances are:

  • Take a science communications course. Most of these are postgraduate courses to be taken after a science degree, but there are some undergraduate courses in science communications or with communications elements.
  • Get some experience. This could mean writing for a student paper, contributing to a student radio station or even going it alone with a science blog or YouTube videos.
  • Keep up-to-date. Science communicators need to know about the latest, most exciting developments. They’re what people will ask you about the most, after all.

There are lots of organisations, such as the British Science Association, that can help you get into science communication, but you’ll have to tailor your approach to the field you’re going into.

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