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Media is revolutionizing science in all its forms, from patient access to information, to technologies doctors use to diagnose and treat, to how science research brings solutions to global health problems. The JUST Science Section discusses the various ways media drives scientific advances and affects social change.

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« Many in Generation X are 'Disengaged' on Climate Change | Main | Rethinking How to Communicate Science »
Thursday
May172012

What Makes a Good Scientist?  

Lisa Mattson
May, 2012

Is it the education, the creativity and innovation or the scientific rigor? While all of those qualities are essential, there is also one crucial trait missing. The ability to communicate.   To communicate your findings and ideas, not only to your peers, but also to the public is an extremely important component of being a good scientist.

The skill needed to accurately explain your results to a widely variant audience is becoming increasingly important. The impact science has on our health, our politics, our culture and our society cannot be underestimated. The ability to clearly and concisely communicate complex theories in a way that can be understood by non-scientists is critical. 

While many scientists lack the skill needed to convey their thoughts to a wider audience, there are tools, websites and help available. Colleges and Universities help prepare students to write about and disseminate scientific news.  There are organizations whose goal is to provide communication tools to help scientists disseminate their findings.  In addition, there are journals devoted to promoting scientific communication.  There are even  conferences devoted to the how science is communicated on the web.

Communication about science, whether it is the latest discovery, or a re-examination of previous work, requires deftness.  Given that science has such an impact on our lives, the writer must be cognizant of his audience understanding the potential influence the information may  have. The need for the science writer to be accurate is paramount and the ability to convey the information in a  non-biased, objective way is critical to success.

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