AAAS and AAU Hold Webinar on Scientific Storytelling
AAAS and AAU Hold Webinar on Scientific Storytelling

September 2017

Everyone remembers stories from childhood. These tales of progress have the ability to inspire growth and change. They also encourage individuals to innovate and create.

The lasting impact of storytelling was discussed with science researchers throughout the country during a September 6 webinar, “Golden Goose: Celebrating Science through Storytelling.”  The webinar was led by Josh Shiode, senior government relations officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Julia Smith, senior federal relations officer at the Association of American Universities.

Strong narratives can engage audiences and build emotional and human connections between scientific research and the average person, Shiode and Smith said.

Shiode and Smith examined ways for researchers to create engaging narratives surrounding what is typically complex and technical research language, including:

  • Using analogies and metaphors to relate to readers.
  • Writing attention-grabbing content to maintain readers’ interest.
  • Designating oneself as directly part of the story in building connections between the research and reality.

Additional tips included:

  • Thanking taxpayers if the research is federally funded.
  • Incorporating funding sources into the copy as often as possible in building more connections through research. This may help readers understand the importance of various funding sources and investments used by researchers.
  • Practicing talking about your research with family and friends. Use this experience to enhance your communication skills when presenting to broad audiences.
  • Thinking about being a communicator first when talking to a nonresearch crowd. Make a video, post on social media, share content, and be active.

Researchers have to do more than summarize their work, Shiode and Smith emphasized. When informing audiences about a research problem and how it was addressed, they need to discuss a personal connection to the research and explain how they used science to find a solution to a relatable problem.

Shiode and Smith ended the webinar by encouraging attendees to think about being communicators first when talking to nonresearchers, and to understand how relationships develop through strong storytelling skills.

The webinar, hosted by Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy, highlighted the importance of storytelling in science and policy with examples of past recipients of the Golden Goose Awards, which are cosponsored by AERA.

The annual presentation of the Golden Goose Awards celebrates federally sponsored social science research that is fueled by curiosity, advanced through serendipity, and has resulted in major societal benefits. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) envisioned this award almost two decades ago in hopes of recognizing the significant economic and human gains of federally funded research.

The Golden Goose Awards were presented on Wednesday, September 27, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. To learn more, click here.

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