Sep 27, 2010

Expressing as a Scientist

Communication is an integral part of the research you perform as a scientist. Your written papers serve as a gauge of your scientific productivity and provide a long-lasting body of knowledge from which other scientists can build their research. The oral presentations you deliver make your latest research known to the community, helping your peers stay up to date. Discussions enable you to exchange ideas and points of view. Letters, memos, and résumés help you build and maintain relationships with colleagues, suppliers, employers, and so on.

Scientific communication is not limited to formal papers and presentations for your peers. As a scientist, you engage in communication activities with yourself, too. Drafting a research proposal, for example, helps you understand the context and motivation for your future work and helps you focus on specific, realistic objectives. Adding entries in your laboratory notebook helps you crystallize your ideas and creates a track record of your thinking or experiments. Using mathematical or chemical notations helps you tackle complex concepts. Graphing data helps you answer research questions.

Finally, scientists are increasingly considered to be accountable to society at large; hence, you must know how to communicate successfully with people from a variety of backgrounds. For example, you may find yourself communicating in the classroom to help students develop their knowledge, sharpen their skills, and refine their attitudes. You may also volunteer or be called upon to write or speak about science for a broader, nonspecialist audience.

David Alcantara for The All Results Journals

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