Students unravelling scientific mysteries win major boost

coley-screengrab 2Portsmouth students hoping for a career in communicating complex science are among the first in the world to have articles accepted by international science magazine, ECO.

Masters students at the University of Portsmouth being taught how to communicate complex scientific concepts to a wider audience are now part of an innovative collaboration between the university and magazine.

The project provides students with a platform to write articles on scientific research, gaining experience and honing their skills in science communication. Some of the students’ work has already been published.

The collaboration came about thanks to their lecturer, Kira Coley, also a freelance science and technology writer.

She said:  “I am thrilled our students are not just learning the craft of communicating complex ideas and issues in the lecture theatre, but are doing so to a high enough standard to be published. It is a testament to the quality of our students’ work.

“Communication is a skill vital for the survival of science and to help drive advances in the field and positive changes in our communities. This course teaches the importance of science communication to the next generation of scientists. But, it is a skill that all scientists should and can learn.”

The relationship between the MSc Applied Aquatic Biology students taking the ‘science in the media’ unit and the magazine’s editor is likely to also provide a boost to their CVs.

All writers are given bylines including their affiliation to the university’s School of Biological Sciences.

In order to learn how to communicate science well, the course includes feature writing, video editing, outreach and social media for scientists, giving students opportunities to publish on a range of platforms.

ECO magazine editor Greg Leatherman said the project was “very innovative” and he is now considering opening the same opportunity to American science communications students.

He said: “By getting her students involved with writing for publication, Kira can give them real-world experience that teaches them to effectively communicate research findings to a broader audience. The benefit to young scientists is clear, but it also expands our own coverage.

“Due to the immediate success we’ve seen, we hope to bring more universities into the project.”

ECO (Environment Coastal and Offshore) magazine reaches more than 20,000 readers, most of whom are professionals working for offshore-focused industries, agencies or in research.

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