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2D: Communicating science

Communicating scientific findings to a wider audience is a tricky – but nonetheless important – business.

Writing in Prospect, Michael Billig reckons he knows why academics can’t write: it is, apparently, a problem of big nouns. I think he has a point (his comparison between academic-speak and management-speak certain, and his article is also very funny in places – it’s well worth a read.

But what’s it like if you do a good job at communicating the messages of your research, and end up being invited to do the media rounds to talk more about it? Katie Haighton’s post on the Fuse Open Science Blog gives a fascinating insight.

I think these two articles make a brilliant pair!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

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2D: Religion & stuff

I think this is probably the most tenuously linked pair of articles I’ve chosen for my 2D posts to date, but both are great reads nonetheless… The link I’m claiming is that both discuss religion in somewhat unexpected places.

The first is Ian Leslie’s recent piece for New Statesman, in which he makes a somewhat convincing argument that everyone should wear a veil when appearing in court. It’s a great example of subverting expectations on a subject and revealing fresh insights in the process.

The second was written by one of my public health colleagues in the North East, Avril Rhodes, for the Fuse Open Science Blog. It describes the curious similarities between community outreach events run by the church, and those run by academics. This is a great example of an article that made me view things from a slightly different angle, and perhaps consider them a little differently.

So… the connection between the two might be stretched to breaking point, but they are both worth a read, and both tickled my brain!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,075th post was filed under: 2D, , , , .

2D: Working late

My last 2D feature was on being late… and this one continues the theme of “lateness”. I hope you won’t conclude that I’m obsessed!

My first recommended read on the topic is “Oh, stop your whining!” by Jean Adams on the Fuse Open Science Blog. Unlike my usual 2D selections, it’s not a long article. But Jean’s reflection on her own changing perceptions around people’s work:life balances made me reflect on my attitude.

I think, like many people, this is something I struggle with to some extent. I don’t feel I overwork (at least not very often), yet I frequently stay in the office until late into the evening or arrive early in the morning, I frequently read and respond to work emails at weekends and on holidays, and struggle to say “no” to anyone offering extra work.

I don’t expect others to do the same. In fact, one of the pleasures of catching up with work out of hours is the lack of distraction, and the fact that I can reply to emails without them bouncing straight back. If everyone did the same, it would be far less satisfying!

Occasionally, I’m given cause to reflect. I recently got annoyed at someone who, when realising I was on holiday, refused to continue an email conversation. When someone called my view of time off “abstemious” – as a compliment, I think – it played on my mind. And when I saw Jean’s post, I wondered again about my work:life balance.

I rationalised, as I always do, that if I’m happy then the balance is good. But perhaps an occasional pause for reflection on the topic is no bad thing.

My other selected article on this topic looks at working “late” from a slightly different perspective: in the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse writes “Working late, by choice or not” about those working beyond the typical retirement age in the United States.

I was particularly struck by the story of Dr Rafael Garza, who is still doing ward rounds at the age of 87… having moved to a new specialty at the age of 74. I suppose that if I’ve still got (at least) sixty years to go in my present career, I’ve got plenty of time to work out the best work:life balance…!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,067th post was filed under: 2D, , , , .

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