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5 Must-Read Science Communication Books

Without communication, there is no science.

But the discipline of science communication is still a relatively fresh idea. It's a career that requires it's own skill set: a blend of scientific understanding and creative written, spoken or visual story-telling skills.

So how do current and aspiring science communicators develop this specific skillset? One way is to stand on the shoulders of SciComm giants. 

To make your life a little easier, we've compiled a shortlist of the five must-read science communication books, in no particular order:

Dr Randy Olson

Few people embody science communication like Dr Randy Olson. 

A tenured professor in Marine biology who packed up and moved to Hollywood to master the art of film-making, Dr Olson has an expert's eye for both rigorous science and engaging story-telling.

Above anything, Connection is truly useful. Read this book, and you will walk away with concrete techniques that you can put to use immediately to improve your story-telling. 

Dr Olson's And - But - Therefore template is a powerful tool for improving the clarity of any communication. It's the starting point of our explainer videos, and we also recommend it as your formula to an excellent presentation.

PS: As a sneaky inclusion in the list, Randy has a new book fresh off the press that we can't wait to read - Narrative is Everything: The ABT Framework and Narrative Evolution. 

Dr Roger Aines and Amy Aines

When we're communicating science, we're persuading an audience that finding X matters to them. This could be to secure research funding or to make an impact by inspiring societal change.

Championing Science is a comprehensive guide on how to persuasively communicate your complex scientific ideas to decision-makers. 

The authors precisely detail common mistakes in science communication and provide clear examples and practical tips and strategies to make your message resonate and inspire action.

Alan Alda

When I think of Alan Alda, I think of the witty wartime surgeon he plays in the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H. But since then, he has built a new career as a science advocate and educator on the art of effective communication. 

In his book, Alda presents a fascinating and highly informative case about the importance of communicating better - with plenty of innovative and creative ways to help people do so.

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not your message is really resonating with your listener. Alda places a large emphasis on empathy and emotion, and Alda provides actionable advice on reading peoples’ emotions and responses to understand whether you're connecting. 

Nancy Baron

Escape from the Ivory Tower is a 'how-to' guide for scientists to communicate their findings to a broader audience. 

It has a strong focus on preparing researchers to work with and to use the media to disseminate their research. How to get the most out of interviews and how to avoid (and deal with) misrepresentation by the media are practical take-aways from the book.

Nancy Baron also provides illuminating insights into what policymakers/journalists expect from scientists and how this differs from what scientists expect from policymakers/journalists.

Steven Pinker

Much of science communication relies on the written medium: books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites and, of course, scientific journals. 

In the final book on our list, best-selling linguist and cognitive scientist, Steven Pinker, provides a style-guide for effective science writing.

Using neuroscience, Pinker eloquently explains the best way to write based on how our brains understand words on a page.

Some readers may be put off by its detailed approach to describing the technical aspects of writing. Others though, will enjoy a clear guide to constructing correct, beautiful and effective prose.



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