Communicating my PhD research in a video to a broad audience: the ScientistWanted project - Bas Goulooze
The message in the university newsletter read: ‘Wanted: enthusiastic young scientist interested in presenting his/her research to a broad audience’. I know I like to present my research, but I had never done this to a broad audience. Because it seemed like a nice challenge to try this, I applied to join the ScientistWanted platform.
So what is ScientistWanted?
ScientistWanted is a platform for young researchers to present themselves and their research topic to a broad audience. It was founded to increase the interaction and communication between scientists and society. The platform is built around short videos, in which the researcher explains their research in layman’s terms. These videos are presented on the ScientistWanted website, and available for those interested in science, but also for organizations that are looking for the input from young scientists.
How was it to participate?
During the first meeting, we received a very informative pitch training before we got started on the text for the video. It was both challenging and entertaining to try and explain a scientific research topic in a concise and clear manner, in layman’s terms. After the first meeting, I had homework; to prepare the text into a script, film the material, and edit the material into a video. This was quite a lot of work, especially when having no experience with filming or editing. Luckily, I knew someone who helped me with the filming and did all the editing, so this saved a lot of time in the end. This also made the video look much more professional than if I would have edited it myself.
I was curious about the results of the other young scientists, so I excitedly went to the second meeting. I really liked seeing the videos of the other participants, especially because we had a really diverse group with people from almost all faculties of the university. For example, there was a really nice video by Fokelien Kootstra about linguistic research of ancient inscriptions, which started with a funny modern day example of elderly people speaking very informally. With the feedback of the group, I was able to improve the video even further.
What did I learn?
As PhD student, I am used to present work to other scientists, and in a more formal way: in writing or as oral communication at a scientific conference. Making a video for a broad audience was therefore a completely different way of communicating, and that alone made it an interesting experience. After ScientistWanted, I found that I also felt more comfortable giving short explanations about my research to friends and family. It even helped me to present my work to other scientists, because they also prefer easy-to-understand presentations.
Why should you consider joining?
Science communication to society is increasingly considered to be an essential part of being a scientist. But giving a public lecture might seem like a really big step as a PhD student. For me, ScientistWanted was a relatively accessible way to get some experience in science communication, as you can always repeat a scene if you do not like how you come across on video. Additionally, ScientistWanted was a very entertaining project that will improve your communications skills as a whole.
And the best thing was that I ended up with a video about my research that I can use for introductions to scientists and broad audience alike, and that I’m quite proud of!