How to prepare an article for popular science?



If you dedicate yourself to research and the world of science, you are fully aware that a large part of your work will be carried out immersed in bibliographical references, research by colleagues, specialized publications and papers. The preparation of scientific articles is key for 99% of science professionals. Despite that, why are so many advances so unknown? Because there is still a long way to go in a fundamental field: that of scientific dissemination.

What is the function of  scientific dissemination?

Basically, the main function of dissemination is to ‘translate’ into common language a discovery or series of discoveries and advances in a given scientific area. Although it is true that there are journalists and communicators specialized in science, dissemination can also be considered as a profession with clearly social functions.

Ideally, the dissemination expert should take a step forward and be the protagonist of dissemination, of the projection of the knowledge that he masters the most and best. In this way, society will know better and value research, a greater impact and relevance will be achieved and, also from an ideal approach, new vocations will be generated and the focus of political attention will be attracted. And also the budget.

Some tips to know how to do scientific dissemination

scientist working

It is not always easy to translate sometimes complex and highly technical knowledge into common and non-scientific language. However, the key to success lies in the ability to convey an attractive story without conflicting with rigor. Some aspects to take into account when preparing a popular science article are:

Always provide sources and bibliography

Although you do not always delve into the documentary research process that supports your statements, it is convenient that you provide the reader with those sources on which you rely. If there is someone who is especially interested or captivated by what you are saying, they will have a place to go to expand their knowledge or find out more details, if that is what they want.

Don’t forget your audience

Remember that the bulk of the public that will read you does not belong to your field of work. It probably doesn’t even belong to the world of science. You don’t have to know anything about the scientific method or a large part of the aspects you talk about. Assume that you are addressing an absolute neophyte and try to simplify both your message and your way of expressing yourself. It is possible to be rigorous without boring and attractive to the masses without missing the truth.

Pay special attention to the story

Most of the failures when it comes to spreading science are based on a common mistake: limiting yourself to exposing information, without building a story. No matter how much passion you put into it, your audience will not ‘buy’ anything you ‘sell’ them if they do not find an attractive story. Establishes analogies, visual and clear examples, uses historical figures, personal anecdotes. Use any resource that allows you to tell a story. Why do you think we all remember children’s stories?

In a popular science article Simplify the structure!

In the same way that you have to make the language and your way of expressing yourself simple, you must reduce the structure of your popularization article to the most effective possible minimum. If in the sentences a simple composition of subject, verb and predicate should prevail, in the structure you should try to stick to a simple approach, middle and end. If a certain subject of the scientific popularization article is too complex for this structure, it is preferable that you make several different popularization texts, attending to each specific aspect separately, but equally simple.

If you are reluctant to embark on scientific dissemination, do not forget that whoever attracts media attention is usually viewed favorably by the general public. If you talk about yourself and your discipline, you have a powerful weapon to demand more attention, funding and resources. And you can also share your passion with complete strangers who may follow your path.

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