Increasingly, university faculty are called on to communicate with and connect to public audiences. Whether it’s with a student, administrator, policy maker, legislator, member of the media, or funder, your effective engagement with the public is crucial to attracting further funding, creating greater support for university work, and advancing awareness of the university’s strengths and accomplishments.
Quick Guide: Communicating about your work
IU offers a variety of resources, support, and opportunities to expand your ability to communicate and connect with others regarding your work:
- Review presentations and handouts from the May 17, 2019 faculty communications workshop, Talking about your work to non-experts.
- If you have a groundbreaking publication coming out or a notable performance or exhibition to announce, notify your school or department’s communications staff, the IU news and media team, and/or the IU executive director for research communications. These professionals can help you decide the best way to share your achievement with appropriate audiences.
- If you are going to be interviewed by the media, consult these tips from the IU media relations team and contact an IU media specialist if you would like more assistance. Media training is available as preparation for interviews. Learn more about working with the IU Communications team by requesting a Road Show presentation.
- Share your expertise as part of the IU Experts Database. The database provides searchable information to the media and the public on breaking news, interesting trends, or novel research.
- If you’re a faculty member in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, contact the College’s Office of Science Outreach for assistance and support in cultivating engagement and public impact, especially the design of broader impacts activities for proposals to the National Science Foundation and other agencies.
- The Integrated Program in the Environment offers broader impacts guidance and support, including development of anchor projects, general public and school education programming, and evaluation/assessment/metrics planning, for faculty, staff, and students involved in the IPE program, which involves the College, School of Public Health, and SPEA, as well as other IU Bloomington units.
- If you'd like help developing a proposal for submission to an external grant agency, contact IU's proposal development specialists at IU Bloomington and at IUPUI.
- IU's Center on Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL) offers training in research communications for scientists, scholars, educators, and public health professionals to communicate about their work to non-experts in clear and engaging ways.
- Take advantage of Indiana University’s Communicating Science Program, inspired by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (see more on the center below). The IU program helps train scientists, health professionals, and others to communicate with the public, public officials, the media, and others outside their disciplines.
- Strengthen your writing through the Scholarly Writing Program at IU Bloomington.
- Learn more about IU Bloomington’s Masters program in scientific literacy and IUPUI’s graduate minor in communicating science.
- Attend a session of Science Café Bloomington to hear colleagues deliver publicly accessible talks.
- Consider engaging in activities of Concerned Scientists at IU Bloomington, a science advocacy group that includes a focus on engaging with the public to communicate science.
Consult these external resources for more information on how to enhance communications about your work.
- AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology: This center provides scientists and scientific institutions with opportunities and resources, including an online communications toolkit, to support meaningful conversations with the public.
- Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science: The Alda Center offers opportunities to explore, learn, and practice communicating effectively about science and medicine through online webinars and in-person workshops.
- NPR Scicommers: A Science Communication Collective: Started by NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca in 2012, this is a community of approximately 1,000 students and faculty interested in improving their science communication skills. The community is open to anyone actively engaged in science.
- National Alliance of Broader Impacts: This international network of individuals and organizations works together to demonstrate the societal benefits of research.
- NSF, Science Communication, and You: Resources for communicating through NSF: This PDF offers tips, suggestions, and advice on communicating about NSF-funded activities.
- National Institutes of Health – Science, Health, and Public Trust: NIH created this resource to offer information on how to convey complex research results to the public in ways that are clear, credible, accurate, and accessible. Their website offers experts advice, tools, and resources.
- Center for Plain Language: This center helps government agencies and businesses write clearly; they offer templates and online trainings.
- Going Public: Writing About Research in Everyday Language: This brief from the U.S. Department of Education describes approaches that writers can use to make to communicate the impact of research in more broadly understandable ways.
- Centers for Disease Control Plain Language Materials and Resources: These materials offer a variety of plain language resources as part of the CDC's commitment to plain communication with the public.
- Plain Language Association International (PLAIN): PLAIN is an international association for plain language supporters and practitioners around the world.
- Plainlanguage.gov: Explore plain language guidelines and advice (refer to left-hand navigation).
- The Plain Writing Act of 2010: This federal law requires that government documents issued to the public must be written clearly.
Who to contact
Vice President Communications & Marketing
517 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Von Lee Second Floor
Bloomington, IN 47408
340 W. Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Vice President for Research
- April Toler
Senior associate director of research communications