Report: 17th Science Communication workshop, New Delhi


02 Oct 2018

Report: 17th Science Communication workshop, New Delhi

 

The 17th Science Communication Workshop

24-25 September, 2018 ; INSA, New Delhi

There has never been a more critical time for scientists and clinicians to learn to communicate effectively with audiences that matter. The importance of integrating communication skills (particularly science communication skills) in the professional development regime of scientists has now been primarily acknowledged.

The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance (India Alliance) continually strives to empower researchers in India with tools and skills that help one become globally competitive. One of the significant results of this effort is the two-day Science Communication Workshop.

This September, the historical headquarters of the Indian National Academy of Sciences at New Delhi saw a varied assemblage of researchers (representing basic, clinical, and public health research), faculty, Postdocs and PhDs from across the nation attending the 17th 2-day Science Communication Workshop of the India Alliance.

Unlike popular belief, researchers should not only be armed to communicate with funders and peer reviewers, but also with colleagues, patients, and the public. As much as talking clearly and concisely is essential, so is the ability to identify audiences and use appropriate means of communication for maximum impact. Often neglected is the need/ability to convey the underlying passion and excitement that leads to discoveries in science.

Ms. Sumathy Haridas, a senior HR consultant, and behavioural trainer worked with the participants on developing basic communication skills (especially oral communications) by using presentations, video clips followed by discussions, roleplaying, small group work followed by self-reflection and self-assessment, and Q&A sessions.

This workshop in addition to honing communication skills of the young researchers aimed at providing them with a platform to discuss research career avenues, the importance of mentorship, and research ethics. In line with this aim, a panel of mentors—Dr Kavita Babu, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali; Dr Kausik Chakraborty, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi; Dr Anmol Chandele, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi; Professor Shobhona Sharma, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai; and Dr George M Varghese, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore—joined the participants on the second day of the workshop.

In the module “Ethics in Research", Professor Shobhona Sharma, with the participants, explored a number of questions: How should authorship on a paper be decided? Is plagiarism accepted in some cases? Why should we bother with animal ethical clearance? What is a conflict of interest? How to deal with sexual harassment in a research set up?

Dr. Kavita Babu explained what it takes to write a well-structured manuscript in the module: “manuscript writing”. Various aspects of scientific writing such as the language, grammar, structure, and flow of information, and the importance of illustrations and visual tools were discussed herein. 

Moving ahead, Dr. George M Varghese, dealt with “grants writing”. Dr. Varghese talked about the process of developing a grants application, the features of a good proposal, and what goes into catching the imagination of reviewers. Subsequently, the participants were encouraged to interact with all the invited mentors, discuss their research proposals, and receive feedback.

All mentors engaged with the participants in a Q&A session “Learning from Choices” wherein they shared their experiences concerning their career choices. This unique exercise allowed the participants to understand how choices/decisions made by these mentors have been instrumental in shaping up their successful careers.

Read Twitter updates from the workshop here

To date, more than 2500 researchers from India have participated and benefitted from the Science Communication workshops of the India Alliance.

To find out more about these workshops, visit https://www.indiaalliance.org/science-communication-workshop

Workshop participants with mentors and India Alliance staff