Science Writing and the Subjective Nature of Communication

Science writing and communication have always been strongly related, even though the nature of science writing and communication will be different in different contexts. People who are discussing their research with an audience of experts will have to use one form of communication. They will be using a very different communication style if they are teaching science to an audience that is not involved with academia.

Finding a way to tailor a piece of writing to a vastly different set of audiences is no easy task. Experts will demand that the writing fit within a particular template. While broader audience members won’t have such exacting standards, they will still want to make sure that the writing is informative and that the writers are not talking down to them. Science writing and communication will not have as many objective standards as a lot of people might like, which really only makes everything involved that much more complicated.

Some people will use various indexes as guides, and they will try to write for a particular grade level. Finding a way to ensure that a piece of writing is written above the high school or college level can be tricky, especially since a lot of indexes will have upper limits regarding the grade levels that they measure. Usually, these indexes will measure the length of the sentences and the number of syllables in the words that people use in the writing. Shorter sentences with shorter words are typically easier to understand. Many academics will avoid writing this way as a matter of course. Popular science magazines are filled with writing like this.

Trying to get a sense of whether a concept has been explained in a difficult or simple way can be tough, especially since people will vary in their own perception of what is difficult or easy. Essentially, writers, editors, audience members, and everyone else involved in the process also must be skilled at communicating with one another.