As a life science student, it is essential to know the feeling of not knowing and then realise the pitfalls along a learning process for that same concept that was once alien. This very feeling will eventually aid in communicating the idea with greater efficiency.
Similarly, it also reflects to a varying degree of complexity in the different science communication projects you are expected to participate in as a student and scientist. So in this blog, I am going to talk about two examples of science communication pieces:
- News and Views
- Lay Summary
But is there a difference between the two? Initially, perhaps both these pieces sound alien?! But hopefully, towards the end of the blog, these ideas will become more clear!
Although the two might have the same aim of communicating a finding, the first pertains to an audience more aware and in touch with the field, while the latter is about informing the public and young aspirants like us (sometimes).
A News and Views article informs scientists and students about a recent paper and tries to lure them in to read the report. Essentially, it is like a movie review that tries to tell you about the abstract (synopsis), the findings (climax), the discussion and conclusion (frequently filled with impactful plot twists) and lastly, the methods (technicalities). It also takes inputs from other papers to provide a thorough background and suggest the next big thing that could follow the recently published one! This last section about the future scope allows the writers and, consequently, the readers to go beyond the current perspective and pioneer new themes, at least theoretically. Although a means of communicating a finding, it still pays attention to most of the sections of a scientific paper with some complexity. The best place to gauge what an article should look like is https://www.nature.com/nature/articles?type=news-and-views .
On the other hand, the lay summary primarily reports on the current findings. It is a way of simplifying ideas for high school students and the general public. In this piece, the structure and complexity of a scientific paper are lost entirely, and only ideas most significant to the recent finding are retained. Resources necessary for Lay summary:
*A big thank you to Dr Joost for recommending these two!
I hope this basic introductory blog helps you understand the differences between the two! Remember to check the resources and links for each! Thank you for reading!