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    Richard Tomsett said:

    I’ve been quite lucky in that my supervisor pretty much lets me get on with whatever I want to do, be it courses or science communications events. Of course, doing computational work and not having to keep set hours in the lab enables this flexibility. He was also keen on Biotech YES, as he’s interested in setting up a company himself.

    I would hate for extra courses to be compulsory, but it’s nice to know they’re around if I feel the need. I would consider Science Communication to be an “extra-curricular” activity though (I would rather it felt that way at least), which as a side-effect enhances your communication skills – I would hate for it to become a compulsory part of a PhD programme, for example.

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    heather Doran said:

    Hi Richard! Thanks for your comment. I am interested to know why you think that extra courses shouldn’t be compulsory. Do you not think that would make it easier for students that want to participate, but currently face resistance from supervisors?

    There could be a selection of courses open to students and they can choose the ones that best fit their needs. Rather than making science communication itself a compulsory activity. Although, I strongly feel that if you are a PhD student you should do a couple of activities that do improve your science communication skills!

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    Julie Gould said:

    Hi Heather,

    I think you are absolutely right, science communication is vital to any researcher. I have decided to do an MSc in science communication BEFORE starting a PhD. I hope that this will give me a new set of skills, and a deeper understanding of science communication as a whole.

    I already do a fair amount of it myself (writing, presenting etc) and I absolutely love it. It’s has made me much more confident in myself, and hence in what I communicate. Your ‘meet the researcher’ experience is a great idea. I have taken part in similar ‘science speed-dating’ activities in which you only have 5 minutes to talk about your work! It’s very tiring because you are continuously concentrating. After the session was over, you had to pick one person that you had spoken to and recall what their research was about! It was an exercise in talking as well as listening.

    I hope that when I do start a PhD after this year I will be at an advantage, having the ability to stand up and talk about my field of research to other people in my field, researchers in a different field, and the general public as well.

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    Richard Tomsett said:


    I suppose my opinion is coloured by my experiences with a flexible supervisor and very flexible work schedule, but I can understand your position, definitely. I’m not sure how much worth science communications workshops have if the attendees aren’t then going to go and do some science communication afterwards, which I don’t think you should/can make unwilling people do. I can imagine a few people I know resenting having to do extra courses that don’t particularly interest them.

    I agree it would be good to get more supervisors on board with this kind of thing, though I’d prefer universities to encourage supervisors to support science communications activities somehow rather than require students to attend courses.

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