Science Communication Workshop

Science communication plays an integral role in one’s scientific career. Being able to effectively disseminate research findings within the community and to consider collective opinions in prioritising research needs is an important attribute of scientific maturity. In keeping with its mandate to empower future leaders of Indian science, the India Alliance periodically conducts one-day (SciComm101) and two-day (SciComm Hyderabad) science communication workshops throughout the year. To keep the modules interactive, focused and productive, the number of students trained at each workshop is limited.

The Science Communication workshops

 

These two-day workshops are a unique opportunity for PhD students, Postdoc scholars and Clinical researchers to receive training in written and oral communication skills. These workshops will also provide an opportunity to these young researchers to discuss various issues pertaining to their research career including mentorship, career planning and ethical aspects of scientific and medical research. The workshops aim at skill as well as perspective building for the most aspiring young researchers by bringing young scientists and senior mentors together to provide a platform for discussion and learning.

The workshop will address the following through experimental learning:

                                                                       

"Making Effective Oral Presentations"

Ms Sumathy Haridas is a senior HR Consultant and a Behavioural trainer based in Bangalore with over 30 years of experience in providing training in varied fields including science communication. In her one-day session at the workshop she shares important tips on various aspects of oral presentation through creative hands-on exercises. How to prepare the message of a presentation, appear confident while presenting, speak articulately and engage the audience are some of the topics she covers in this session.

"Grants Writing"

There are two sessions in this module.

The first session is based on original research proposals submitted by the participants prior to the workshop. At the workshop, mentors will give detailed one-one feedback on the proposal. Mentors typically are internationally successful scientists and advise the participants on how their proposal would be received by an external reviewer.

In the second session, the India Alliance Office shares its experience with the various fellowship applications received at the office and advice on what goes into a "good" grant application.

"Ethics in Research"

How should authorship on a paper be decided? Is plagiarism accepted in some cases? Why should I bother with animal ethical clearance? What is conflict of interest?

These are some of the questions that are explored in this module along with many other circumstances typically faced in a scientific career through examples and discussions. This module is to enable the participants to be better informed on how the ethical choices they make can shape their career.

"Learning from Choices"

This informal session is based on the premise that all scientists make choices during their career and students can benefit by learning from decisions taken by successful scientists. This is mainly a question and answer based session. Through this forum, participants can also find out about what postdoctoral supervisors typically look for in prospective employees and obtain advice on how to pick the most suitable postdoctoral supervisor.

One-day variant of SciComm Hyderabad, SciComm101 was launched by the India Alliance in response to the rising numbers of requests from various academic research institutions to train more students on science communication skills.

Guidelines:

The one-day workshop would be conducted, upon request, at institutions willing to host the mentors and trainees. The workshop is designed to impart training in grant writing, manuscript writing, PowerPoint presentations, and research ethics. The modules include hands-on exercises and case studies and are aimed at stimulating intense discussions among participants. The intended participants are PhD students, preferably in the final year of their programme.

The sessions are time-bound and participation in all sessions is a mandatory requirement to receive a certificate of participation.

Selection Process:

Participation in the workshop is by invitation only. The host institution is expected to publicize the workshop to other institutions across that city. Students motivated to acquire training in the above-mentioned modules should be handpicked by the department heads from institutions and recommended to the host institution before a specified deadline. Selection of participants will be on a first-come basis.

A total of sixty students (30 students from the host institution and remaining from other institutions in the city) would be invited to attend the workshop.

Requirements (from Host Institution):

A cover letter from the leadership of the institution describing 1) the requirement for such a workshop and its benefits for the students; 2) a brief overview of the PhD courses offered at the institution; 3) any recent initiatives undertaken towards training PhD students in science communication; 4) preferred time of the year to conduct the workshop; and 5) information about the point of contact. These details should be mailed to:

SciComm Workshops Co-ordinator
The Wellcome Trust – DBT India Alliance
H. No. 8-2-684/3/K/19, 1st Floor, Kaushik Society  
Road No 12, Banjara Hills,
Hyderabad- 500034


Email: workshops@wellcomedbt.org

The host institution is expected to provide an auditorium, which can accommodate 60-75 students and has audio-visual facilities including a projector and a screen. The India Alliance would be happy to bear the food expenses and auditorium hiring charges, if any.

Nature India & Naturejobs in partnership with Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance

Workshop at a glance: One-day workshop to equip young science researchers with tools and strategies for effective communication of their ideas, experiments and scientific results from a science communication perspective. Help them to make science career choices.

Vision: Science communication plays an integral role in one’s scientific career. Being able to effectively disseminate research findings within the community and to consider collective opinions in prioritising research needs is an important attribute of scientific maturity.

In keeping with its mandate to empower future leaders of Indian science, the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance has periodically conducted one-day (SciComm101) and two-day (SciComm Hyderabad) science communication workshops for the past four years. This complements seamlessly with Nature India’s mandate to showcase India’s science ‘as it happens’ in laboratories and institutions across the country through in-depth coverage and analysis of research and science policy. The proposed workshop would be part of Nature India’s many communication outreach activities as the one-stop media platform for India’s science.

The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance and Nature India both represent possibilities for young PhD scholars and postdoctoral scientists to transition into academic as well as non-academic science careers. Information and advice on how to explore various career options will form an important part of these workshops with Naturejobs as the key organiser of the career session.

Structure & format

The workshop will be a one-day event preceding a biomedical (or scientific) conference organised by reputed science societies/organisations/institutes and Universities in India. A large participation by PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and junior scientists will be a pre-requisite for holding this workshop. Organising this workshop as part of a conference will ensure participation from a wide range of institutions across India. The workshop will include 3 separate sessions:

Session 1: Scientific Writing (moderated by WT/DBT Alliance)

Speakers: Staff member/CEO, Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance

Topics to be covered:

                        Ethics in research

                        Presentation skills

                        Manuscript writing

                        Grants writing

                        CVs and letters

 

Session 2: Science Communication (moderated by Nature India)

Speakers: Subhra Priyadarshini, Editor, Nature India

Topics to be covered:

                        Science journalism

                        Popular science writing

                        Effective press releases

                        Hands-on skills on dejargonising science

 

Session 3: Alternate Science Career (moderated by Nature Jobs)

Speakers: To be organised by Nature Jobs-India

Topics to be covered:

                        Career in the Industry

                        Career in Science Promotion/Intellectual Property

                        Career in Policy/Grant organizations / Journalism

Occasionally, we come across a moment that jolts us from our complacency and rekindles our dormant interest. It reminds us of the long forgotten promise that we had made to ourselves to be good at our work, do it differently and stand out from the rest of the crowd. Attending the science communication workshop had been one such occasion for me and I sincerely thank the faculty and organisers of this workshop to have developed such a stimulating environment.

- Dr Vanjare Harshad Arvind, Clinical researcher, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, Tamil Nadu (SciComm Hyderabad, March 2016)

On a whole, the sessions covered in the workshop were extremely important and provided detailed information on each and every aspect. The interactive method incorporated helped in the learning experience. The session on the journey of mentors was quite enlightening and valuable suggestions were provided on the proposal which will enable me to improve my skills of writing and applying for grants that is of utmost importance in the field of science and research.

- Mansi Chopra, PhD student, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi (SciComm Hyderabad, March 2016)

The workshop gave me an opportunity to interact with achievers in various fields and get inspired to strive for even more. It provided hands-on training in preparing a research proposal, and insights into the selection / rejection criteria adopted by grant agencies. The selection process for participation in the workshop ensures that highly motivated individuals participate. Interactive discussions, helpful mentors, very good planning and execution were the USPs of this workshop.

- Dr Jyotsna, Reader, D A Pandu Memorial - RV Dental College And Hospital, Bangalore

In this profusely competitive scientific world, effective communication and writing skills hold key to success. The SciComm workshop organized by the Wellcome/DBT India Alliance team is a very resourceful and valuable step in this direction. The training is aimed at helping young scholars, scientists and health professionals to communicate their science and scientific proposals more effectively to fellow researchers, public, various science bodies and funding agencies. This in turn will help the young researchers in their career prospects; help them secure funds, forge collaborations and serve as effective teachers. One aspect of the workshop which wins over everything else is the one-on-one feedback on proposals by the experts. This is a valuable and pertinent training for young researchers. The ambiance of the venue, the freedom to interact and the theme of the workshop make it one of the most sought after science communication training programs in India.

- Mr Anand K Das, PhD student, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (SciComm Hyderabad, March 2015)

The workshop was a reality check, with respect to ambitions and opportunities. What I liked most were the segments on "Career choices" and "Communication skills". After interacting with mentors, career goals became very contextual. I learned about the art of researching prospective post doctoral positions and weighing the opportunities presented. Spending the entire day with patients or petri dishes does little to prepare one for facing mixed audience, even if it comprises of scholars. In this regard, the entire communication skills module was simply brilliant. A lot questions that I never postulated, but should have, got answered. I would have liked the "career choices" segment to be longer. Overall, the workshop has been one indelible and enlightening experience.

- Ms Anushree Bose, PhD student, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore (SciComm Hyderabad, March 2015)

In retrospect, my own education in medical science has assumed I possess proportionate skills in communication with the written and spoken word. I have, more often than not, found some of these skills missing on self-assessment. In mid-career, I have attempted roughly hewn solutions to this gap such as gleaning from an exceptional critical peer review or from the likes of Stephen Pinker! It is this void that the SciComm attempts to fix for people like me and colleagues, most of them younger. This makes it potentially more rewarding as an enterprise.

The workshop has an unique format; in conjunction with pedagogic lectures on how to effectively use the written word in a paper or a grant application, there are informal talks from experts who speak evocatively of how there is a key motivation that informs all forms of scientific endeavour: passion. On the second day of the workshop an experienced non-scientist intelligently dissects the various ways, traps and ways of getting by them in the spoken forms of science communication. This workshop has meant that I focus greater attention on clarity in communication, in integration with other aspects of research pursuit. The grantsmanship module probably needs more emphasis but the SciComm still gets top marks for an unusual, yet exceptional endeavour in our country.

- Dr Aveek Jayant, Assistant Professor, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh (SciComm Hyderabad, November 2014)

I loved the interactive nature of the Workshop and the freedom we were given to discuss anything without any inhibition. I really value the efforts of the organisers to select PhD students from diverse research backgrounds as candidates for the workshop. A research mind is really stimulated in such atmosphere. All other workshops I have attended dealt with technical development. This workshop dealt with humane aspect of a scientist i.e., development of ethical perspective, presentation and communication skills, which I find is really not talked upon much in normal scientific culture. A discussion on the editorial viewpoint, however, was missing (what do journals expect from researchers?) A small session on that would be beneficial. We should also discuss where Indian research is heading i.e quality, quantity, citations, applicability etc. At what fronts do Indian researchers need to improve? Are we upgraded enough? Do we need to shift from focusing on basic science?

- Ms Poojadevi Sharma, Graduate student, B.V Patel PERD Centre, Ahmedabad (SciComm Hyderabad, November 2014)

The workshop was amazing and has not only helped us to improvise our science communication skills but has also thrown light on choosing our career path ahead. I found the workshop an excellent ground to discuss our weaknesses/basic doubts with experts, who were friendly.

- Mr Nadeem Ahamad, Graduate student, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (SciComm Hyderabad, November 2014)

Read more Feedback from past Workshops

Science Communication workshop slides

Click on the titles below to download slides that are used for India Alliance Science Communication workshops. These are to be used for educational or personal purposes only. All rights reserved – India Alliance

 - Ethical choices in scientific career

 - The what, why and how of Science Communication and Public Engagement

 &  - Communicating science through the written word

 - How to make effective PowerPoint and Poster presentations

 - How to make an impressive CV and important tips for interview

Other resources,