Supercharge your science communications

We’re experts in science marketing, but there’s no great secret to what we do. Becoming an expert in science communication takes a lot of hard work, but with the right approach you can do it too.

At 42group we work with a number of businesses, research and policy organisations and academic institution to help them create science-based policy papers, articles, infographics, leaflets and marketing materials.

We can’t list them here because most of the work is behind the scenes, but we regularly work with some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical businesses, and leading international organisations to help them communicate science and scientific discoveries in a compelling way.

Science communication demands some certain skills and abilities. Here are 5 ways that you can supercharge your science communications – all courtesy of 42group.

1. Master the method

A scientific paper begins with an Abstract or an Executive Summary. Sometimes only a few sentences long, this short and snappy introduction is an essential part of the process. You grab the attention of your readers, and explains your approach, your method and your conclusions.

The abstract itself demonstrates a core part of the logical approach to writing that you need. You need to construct your piece, adding to it layer-on-layer. You need to display to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of the subject matter, the previous research and the context in which this research exists.

In a couple of short sentences you need to encapsulate everything that you have learned, the current context and the summarise your conclusions. Even when creating something as simple as a leaflet, having this approach works.

2. Remember: “Just one more thing…”

A scientific paper, literature review, policy document or piece of collateral tells a story. It’s not a traditional murder mystery, but it is a little bit like 70s show Columbo: we know the conclusion, but we don’t yet know the intricacies of the method. In Columbo, the fun is in finding out how.

It’s easy to slip into a very prescriptive – and potentially dull – style, but you need to avoid that at all costs.  The best papers and documents we read develop a narrative for the reader that’s engaging and (if possible) exciting.

Remember: “Just one more thing…”


3. Focus on objectivity not creativity

It’s hard as a writer not to want to push yourself a little bit, but when working on scientific communications you need to remember that it’s objectivity that’s important, not creativity. You’re telling a story, but it’s a story that’s rooted in fact (and not some tiresome historical fiction).

Statements, sentences and even words need to be carefully chosen to ensure that the meaning is clear, and the evidence is there to support what you’re saying.

There is a time and a place for more expansive prose – and the situation is clearly different if you’re trying to inspire change in an audience – but remember that even then every statement has to be rooted in fact.

4. Remember to reference

Science is a system that has been built incrementally. Even things we take for granted (that smoking causes cancer, for example) can – and sometimes need to be – referenced. A lot of the work we do demands fastidious, accurate and clear referencing. We typically use the Harvard system, but there are others out there, and the choice is made by our clients.

It’s essential that your work is referenced correctly, and the easiest way is to learn how to do it properly and do it as you’re working. Retrospectively adding or editing references is a tedious and time-consuming task for the professional.

A poorly referenced article or paper could see you lose your customer or contract, it’s that important.

5. Become a Word ninja

Microsoft Word is the default programme for much of what we do, but creating scientific content demands a few skills that you might need to brush up on.

Footnotes or endnotes? We prefer endnotes, they’re simple and easy. Cross referencing is important too. Page breaks, indexes and even more complex Word skills are necessary to avoid Microsoft Madness – our term for a document that just doesn’t work because it’s formatted all types of wrong.

If you thought editing a reference was bad, reformatting a whole document from scratch can be even more annoying and time consuming. And it’s likely you’ll need to do the references again, too.

(Secret Tip #6) Love what you do.

Writing about science is about as good as it gets for us. We love it, and we hope that it shows in the work we do. If you love it too this enthusiasm will shine through. Someone old and famous said: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While glib, in some cases it can be true.

42group is a leading Bristol marketing agency that helps business, brands, organisations and individuals to tell their stories. We specialise in science communication and science marketing, working with leading clients to help them tell their stories. 

If you’d like to chat about how we can help you, contact us today.