Research is presented in myriad ways. Whether it be a poster presentation, publication, or simple conversation with a friend, there are various occasions where research comes up, and it is up to the researcher to find the best way to present their research – In both efficient and understandable terms. A few strategies I’ve found that help my peers better understand my thought process and methods are: diagrams, lists, and analogies.
As someone who works in the natural sciences, it was very easy for me to come up with systemized diagrams that clearly outline the protocol of my projects, and the how was communicated with ease. However, the real challenge of communication was within the what and why of my project. Due to my research focus being treating Glioblastoma and utilizing the interactions of several proteins and peptides (with complicated names that are a jumble of letters and numbers), a thorough oral explanation of the mechanisms I’m working with could cause my audiences to easily get lost while trying to piece together the story. Worse, audiences that aren’t in my field could get bored with long-winding and in-depth explanations, so I realized an effective technique to explain my research in layman’s terms was the use of analogies. Competitive protein interactions could be explained easily as the difference between a screw and a nail – Both are effective in getting the job done, and getting something stuck to a wall, but proteins with higher affinities are like screws, that will perfectly screw into their place, causing a higher binding than if it were a nail trying to be placed into a spot for a screw. Different lab protocols were very similar to cooking for me, and I was able to explain my methods like they were recipes, simply pretending my lab notebook was my cookbook. Such examples not only made my research easy to communicate, but also enabled me to understand my peers better when they spoke about their complex research.
As a hopeful medical professional, I’m this skill will prove to be very useful for me in the future, in the case I have to explain complicated medical diagnoses to my patients, their family members, or any collaborators I work with from different fields. In-depth understanding through communication is essential in any form of research field or job role, so I’m very glad I was able to test my own abilities to communicate this summer.