Research communication

When you hear about research, often all that is talked about is pipetting, surveys, IRBs, etc. However, there is a whole other aspect to research that, if you don’t have, you don’t stand a chance. That alternate aspect is communication. Alfred Gray once said, “Intelligence without communication is irrelevant.” This is a concept that is very relevant in the research world because, in research, you’re introducing new concepts and approaches to all types of people. All of those people, despite their background knowledge, are hearing and trying to comprehend your discoveries for the first time. If you’re unable to convey the main ideas of your research in a comprehensive and efficient fashion, no one will value your research to its full extent even if it’s an amazing discovery. 
In order to avoid this, researchers need to first think about their audience. Is the audience full of scientists? Are they well versed in this sub-department of science? Are these other members of your lab? These are all questions that need to be considered when speaking about your research to others. Knowing the audience you’re talking to will not only prevent gaps in knowledge, but can also keep the audience engaged because you’re picking up where their intelligence has left off rather than reviewing things they already know fully. 
The other aspect that needs to be addressed is the manner in which the researchers are presenting their information. There are various forms of presentation, such as panel style (as we’ve done in class, symposium style, and colloquium. Symposium style is often seen at big student conferences for everyone to be able to get their message across in a shorter overall period of time. Colloquium is what we usually assume when someone says “presentation”. The person stands up in front of an audience and speaks at them for a certain period of time and then gets asked some questions at the end. Depending on what type of presentation style is being done, researchers may or may not have access to things such as visual aids. Understanding how much assistance researchers’ words can get from other aspects of their presentations such as visual aids is important when outlining what will be said in their presentation. If it is a panel style presentation, then researchers will likely have ot explain a physical process they did more precisely than if they had a slideshow that had a flowchart of their process. 
Understanding that research is not only about the work put in at the lab bench or on the computer, but also about the communication of all that work includes things like assessing the audience and the form of presentation. Even if it’s just in small conversation, it’s always important to consider those two things to make sure your words do your research justice. 

Leave a Reply