Is all good writing created equal? Writing is an essential part of many scientists work. For example, scientists must be able to write up the results proficiently for publication in a journal. Write grants to receive funding to conduct research and write peer reviews of other scientists work. It might be tempting to believe that if a scientist can write and win a multimillion dollar federal grant, a feat that both clearly establishes their excellence as a scientist and a writer, that they must be qualified to write for a general public audience. This however, isn't the case. Especially once we acknowledge that some people go to school and get degrees in science journalism, that doesn't mean it isn't critically important for scientists to write for the general public. As we talked about already in this course, many members of the general public don't look upon scientists very fondly. Conversely, honing the ability to write for a general public audience can lead to better scientific publications as well. Some of my favorite scientists to read and also site, write their academic articles with the clarity, anecdotes, and analogies that characterize the best science articles for the general public. So, although good writing is good writing, there are some key differences to keep in mind when writing for the general public rather than an academic audience. First, is considerations of the bottom line. I really like this image For comparing academic and journalistic writing. In academic writing, we spend several pages building up to our conclusions. The bottom line comes at the very end. But in journalistic writing, the bottom line comes first. This gets back to a key point that has come up multiple times in the course already. What is the key take home message that you want to convey to your audience? Why does the reader care? What do they get from reading your article? What's the piece that they can use and take from what you've written? One of the points that support that message that you want to get across to your reader. This is something we explored in the last module with a message map activity. You can do the same activity when you're preparing to write as well. These principles are important to consider in any writing that you do. Whether it be a blog article, a media publication, or even an entire book. We'll talk more about different types of writing for the general public later in this module. Another consideration to make, is what goes into a great public facing article. The passive voice, detail, overall organization of scientific papers isn't appropriate when we write for the general public. Jargon should be expressly avoided. Oftentimes, scientists are writing up works and only a small group of other scientists will completely understand. And because these concepts are so technical, the only way to efficiently explain them is to use a lot of jargon and a lot of technical language. Use of passive voice is also completely acceptable, particularly in the method sections of technical science writing. So for example, saying 500 ml of tries always added to cell extracts is an acceptable format for a method section. And not I added 500 ml of travel to sell extracts. It is the opposite in general public communications. It's best to avoid passive voice even when it's grammatically correct because it has a tendency to come off a stiff and robotic and that's not what we want to get across. Like we talked about module 1, you want to avoid feeding into the negative bias that people have towards scientists. The best examples of science writing from the general public have a narrative arc and tell a story, using the same principles that we talked about module 2. There should also be a clear beginning a middle and an end to what you've written. Examples that you include in your writing are relevant to the reader. Rather than talking in the abstract about some miscellaneous scientific discovery, what are things that you can do to actually make the reader feel like they're really a part of it. How can you tell a story, a story that moves from point to point? This isn't to say for example, you can't include references to scientific papers. But rather if you're going to, they need to be included as part of a narrative. I'll show an example of this in the next video. So, how do you know what to include? It comes back to knowing your audience and the journal, the blog, the newspaper or the magazine that you want to write for. It's always a good idea to see what else has been written and see the style, length, and content for your target publication. That also helps to know who's reading it and why they are reading it. Much like we've talked about earlier in this course, audience is everything. So for example, my goal with writing my book for the general public biology everywhere. I was specifically trying to create a book that was accessible to the general public. Particularly people who had little confidence in their ability to engage with science and especially biology. I wanted to reach this audience because my prior teaching experience plus the research literature indicated that many people lack confidence to engage with science. I wanted a book that would appeal to people who had bad prior experiences in science classrooms, that would help them gain the confidence to engage with biology as it relates to their daily lives. As I was writing, I intentionally made my writing style conversational funny and approachable. I avoided jargon wherever possible and instead focused on sharing stories and examples that demonstrated how we see various biological concepts as part of our daily experiences. For example, relating cellular metabolism to why yogurt tastes tangy. During the cover and interior book design process, I specifically sought design elements that made the book as a new textbook like as possible. I didn't include any end of chapter questions either. The style in which I presented the content was a factor of considering my audience and how to generate a piece of writing that was usable, engaging, and interesting to them. And also not intimidating as well. In closing, it's important to remember the good writing doesn't end with writing. When I wrote biology everywhere, the editing process took much longer than the actual writing did. The best writing advice I ever received was from my seventh grade English teacher. And I passed this along all of my students and now I'm passing it on to you. If you have an idea, just write. Don't edit what you've come up with yet, just write. Don't come up with the reasons why you can't write it, just write. And then worrying about editing and the other considerations that you have to make about publishing or whatever. It's also important to remember when you're writing something for the first time to be open to feedback. I received pieces back from editors that were completely reworked to fit better fit their style. I see everything I write as a new opportunity to learn how to become a better writer. A time to receive feedback from other editors to try new styles and to see what works for my audience. Don't be surprised if it takes a few tries to get a piece ready for publication for the general public audience, especially if it's your first time. In this lecture, we learned about best practices for writing for the general public and how it's different from writing for a scientific audience. Many of the same principles we talked about apply here, such as the importance of style, content, storytelling, and always considering your audience. Now will turn to a discussion of different forms of writing for the general public.