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Shorter is Sweeter

The importance of being brief was one of the take away messages from today's NSF Workshop on Science Journalism.

Science journalist, Cheryl Lyn Dybas from NSF hosted the workshop at the 2010 Ocean Science Meeting in Portland. She presented interesting insight into scientific communication.

An eye opening piece of information was the importance of being brief in articles and videos. Data from NewsWire was presented that suggests there is an inverse relationship between length of story and stories read. Basically stated, the longer the story, the less the readers. The data showed that this was true even for the title of the article or story. Long drawn out titles do not really capture the interest of readers, especially the public.

And the general public may not understand science jargon. For example if you talk about diatoms, one should add a brief explanation of what is a diatom. "We are studying diatoms, a eukaryotic algae and one of the most common types of phytoplankton, to better understand ..."

Why should scientist care about reaching the public? The answer is that there shear mass influences decision makers. And this may equate to additional funding for research and science education. It is important to find new and interesting ways to reach the public audience.

I left the talk thinking that the next article I write is going to be shorter, yet oh so sweeter for the reader.