Sci Comm Resources for Grad Students

Links to other blogs and workshops for improving your science communication skills coming soon!


Jargon Check

Simply copy and paste your text into the De-Jargonizer to determine how readable your piece is for a broad audience. The report displays how common each word is and the text is color-coded to match; words that are more rare are orange or red. Read on how this tool was validated.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT):

The Three Minute Thesis competition was developed by the University of Queensland in 2008 and has now expanded to over 85 countries, including 339 universities in the United States. Participants compile years of their thesis research into a brief (3 minute!), clear, and concise message. Regardless if the competition is occurring at this time, this is still a great exercise to ensure you can comfortably talk about the main points of your project to an audience outside the field. Additionally, this exercise will shape the big picture of the thesis and aid in writing the dissertation. Read on about how to prepare the 3MT presentation. Furthermore, the “Half-life your message” video below from RELATE can help in 3MT preparation.


RELATE is a University of Michigan based communication training course is focused on improving science communication skills of scientists and encouraging conversation between scientists and the public through summer workshops for U-M students.

Dr. Elyse Aurbach, a co-founder of RELATE, published “Half-Life Your Message: A Quick, Flexible Tool for Message Discovery“. This “Half-Life” exercise begins with describing your research out-loud in 60 seconds. Briefly reflect, then try to create a more concise version in just 30 seconds, immediately followed by 15 seconds, and eventually, 8 seconds. Sounds daunting, right? The more you complete this exercise, the more comfortable it will become. Performing this activity helps the participant identify the central message that is projected to the audience in sci comm endeavors, dissertations, or grant applications. See the video below for an example of the Half-Life activity.

Drs. Zikmund-Fisher and Aurbach describe the Half-Life technique

Dr. Aurbach and collaborators also published “Foundational Skills for Science Communication“. I highly recommend this article as it describes skills such as identifying the goals of your communication efforts, adapting to different audiences, messaging, narrative, visuals, encouraging audience engagement, etc. Table 2 provides additional resources to learn these skills.

JT Blog

In the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote several blog posts on productive practices for academic professionals.


Yes, Twitter is a fantastic science communication resource! Learn from other sci comm organizations, scientists, and fellow #scicommers. In addition to following organizations at your university, I encourage you to check out the following science communication experts:

Jen Heemstra, Sarah McAnulty, Ph.D, Stephanie Hamilton, PhD, Efra Rivera-Serrano, PhD, Kara Gavin, Chris Gunter

…and sci com organizations:

AAAS SciComm, MIT Communication Lab, Skype a Scientist,  MSU Science Communication, ComSciCon, MiSciWriters

If you have suggestions, comment below!

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