Writing popular science texts
Researchers have a responsibility to share their knowledge with wider society. Not only the general public, but also decision-makers, industry, stakeholder organisations and others.
New findings and results can affect the future, but the people not involved in a research field need to be given a simple and comprehensible explanation of the subject. Several of the University’s journalists and communications officers can provide advice and support when you need to produce popular science material, regardless of whether it is intended for the internet, as a presentation or as a press release. In some cases they can even write the text for you.
A few tips on how to write popular science texts
Write/explain the subject to your aged aunt! Write for a person, not a vague general public – imagine you are writing for a distant relative who is not familiar with your subject
Write briefly and to the point!
Arouse interest! Talk about the most important and interesting aspects first, such as conclusions, consequences, results.
Explain what your results entail for those concerned. Try to identify a general interest.
Write simply! Straightforward sentence structure and “ordinary” prose with no bureaucratic turns of phrase.
Avoid technical terms or explain them if you must use them. Also avoid vague, ambiguous words.
Formulate a striking headline.
Get someone who has nothing to do with your research to read through your text!
As you can see, popular science writing is very different to writing for research publications. While the researcher starts with the background and circumstances, presents the methodology and closes with conclusions and consequences, the opposite principle applies to a popular science text.
press [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
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kristina [dot] lindgarde [at] lth [dot] lu [dot] se
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ulrika [dot] oredsson [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
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