Laura Bowater and Kay Yeoman
2013 | 360pp | £24.95
Reviewed by Andy Roast
More and more scientists are considering how to communicate their research to the wider public, satisfying a desire to reach outside the scientific community (and funding agency requirements). This book, written by scientists, aims to provide ‘sensible and straightforward advice to other scientists starting out on their own science communication career’.
The book begins with the emergence and importance of science communication, providing many good reasons for engaging the public with scientific research. These lessons are not patronising, nor are they commandments for good science communication. Throughout the book the authors stress that different methods must be used for different purposes, and by scientists with different skills.
The remaining chapters deal with communicating to the public and in schools. This can be direct (such as running an event at a science festival) or indirect (such as writing a blog or talking to the press about a discovery). The book does not encourage one method of communication over any other
and the authors emphasise that the communicator must tailor the content and delivery for the audience. Discussion of the benefits and challenges of different methods of communication provides inspiration and I found myself looking at many of the suggested websites for science communication projects.
Case studies are scattered throughout the book offering advice from scientists who have been heavily involved in such projects. These case studies highlight how enjoyable and powerful science communication can be.
This book offers a history of science communication and also presents a great ‘how-to’ guide for young scientists. While the importance of communicating science is emphasised from an academic perspective, the case studies provide sensible and practical tips, making a project seem much less daunting. It would be fantastic to see this book more widely read among undergraduate and postgraduate scientists who wish to better communicate their research.