Science communication and science writing present a variety of job opportunities for which PhDs are well equipped. After years spent honing written and verbal communication skills by writing scientific manuscripts, drafting grants, and presenting research findings, scientists have the capability to work in this field. That being said, building a career in science communication requires trainees to learn about different job prospects and develop the qualifications that will help them stand out. For example freelance science writing, research development and science outreach represent careers that fall within science communication. However, they each require trainees to develop specific proficiencies. Below we share common job titles and provide resources to help trainees prepare for a career in science communication.
Examples of Science Communication Jobs
- Science Journalist
- Science Blogger or Podcaster
- Public Relations Officer
- Communications Manager
- Education and Outreach Manager
- Medical Writer (Resource: Life Beyond the PhD in Medical Writing)
- Research Development Officer
- Journal Editor
Experiences to consider when building your science communication portfolio:
- Blog as a scientist and share research discoveries with the public
- Give a TED-style talk
- Participate in science outreach and practice explaining technical concepts to the public
- Offer to help edit grants (within your department or as part of a professional group)
- Reach out to a radio show or podcast and share what you’re passionate about
UCI resources that provide training, address skill gaps & build networks:
- GPS-BIOMED Elevator Pitch Competition. Workshops and 1-on-1 coaching culminate in an exciting live competition where trainees have 2 minutes to answer the prompt: Tell me about yourself…
- Activate to Captivate Certificate Programs (including Effective Communications for Scientists). Created by Bri McWhorter, participants learn and practice strategies to craft a dynamic and compelling presentations.
- Science Communication Skills (Phy Sci 220). Offered each Winter Quarter and taught by Sandra Tsing Loh. Grad students are taught how to develop and perform mini-TED talks.
- Loh Down on Science Fellowship. Grad Students who successfully complete and excel at Science Communication Skills (Phy Sci 220) can work directly with Sandra to write scripts for her popular radio show: Loh Down on Science.
- UCI Grad Slam. UC-systemwide competition that showcases and awards the best three-minute research presentations by graduate students.
- UCI Postdoctoral Research Symposium. Annual campus symposium that provides a forum for postdocs to present research.
- Brews & Brains. Graduate student led group committed to creating dialogue between the public and academic community, and providing events where students practice public speaking and engagement.
Get involved in science outreach at UCI!
- CaSTL Center at UCI. Increasing exposure and interest in chemistry for K-12 students.
- Reach Out Teach Out at UCI. Inspiring youth and engagement in STEM. For more details please see: Reach Out Teach Out Program Overview
- Outreach Programs with UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (CNLM) include the Brain Explorer Academy and Ambassadors Program.
- REMIND. A campus organization led by UCI MIND trainees that encourages collaboration among the next generation of scientists and clinicians to promote community outreach and education on neurodegenerative diseases.
- OC STEM. Organization committed to fostering economic competitiveness and sustainability by promoting STEM competencies across the educational continuum.
Additional resources to address skill gaps & build networks:
- AAAS Center for public engagement American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Provides public engagement programs to facilitate meaningful conversations between scientists and the public. Example: AAAS Communicating Science Workshops provides a guide for how to host a workshop.
- AAAS annual meeting Family Science Days. This free community science day features a broad range of scientists engaging the public in current science topics. Trainees across the country can apply to run an exhibit.
- Communicating Science Workshop for Graduate Students (ComSciCon). Participants build communication skills that scientists and other technical professionals need to express ideas to their peers, experts in other fields, and the general public.
- National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). Offers resources, job listings and an annual conference open to members and nonmembers.
- American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). Resources for medical communicators including job postings, blogs and opportunities to interact with medical professionals. Some events are free and a student membership rate is offered.
- Master’s in Communications.Com. Premium resource for science communication for students. Graduate certificate programs in science writing, communication and journalism. Courses offered include, Principles of Scientific & Medical Writing, Creativity in Contemporary Scientific Writing, Regulatory Writing for Biomedical Field, Fundamentals of Grant Writing, Digital Journalism for STEM Fields.
Science Blogs & Webinars for aspiring communicators:
- NeuWrite San Diego. Provides writers with multiple resources to submit their articles, stories, and writing ideas in the science field.
- Massive. Offers training to science driven organizations, institutes, research groups, and companies. A community and publishing platform to help researchers, communicators, and policy makers work together to reach and engage key audiences.
- Signal to Noise is a training tool for budding science writers. You can submit a pitch to be accepted for publication and have an article posted online. Article topics include science summary, lab experience, headline science, and short summaries on published scientific studies.
- Knowing Neurons. Knowing Neurons welcomes all kinds of brain-related topics in many modes of communication (articles, videos, infographics..). This is your opportunity to become a creative neuroscience communicator.
- The Conversation. Journalism writing. The conversation is an independent source of news that brings academic and research community directly to the public. Find out how to write for them.
- Sharing Science Webinars. Variety of science communication, advocacy and policy webinars.
- NIH Science Communication Checklist. Tips to communicate science and health research to the public.
- Scitable. Ebook focused on effective communication strategies across a variety of both written and verbal communication events and activities.
- Marketing for Scientists. A collaborative project collecting ideas through a Facebook group, a blog, and a series of professional development workshops for graduate students, postdocs, doctors, engineers, and senior scientists.
- A Career at the Museum. Nature Jobs special report.
- 11 Science Communication for Jobs for PhDs. Life Science Network blog post.
- Building a Career in Science Communication. Featured article in Science Careers.