Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads

Communication in Science


Lerne mit deinen Freunden und bleibe auf dem richtigen Kurs mit deinen persönlichen Lernstatistiken

Jetzt kostenlos anmelden

Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen.

Jetzt kostenlos anmelden

Understanding science is important. Not just for engineers and doctors, but for all of us. Knowledge and scientific literacy can give us the knowledge and support to make decisions, stay healthy, remain productive and become successful. There's a chain of communication and transmission that takes scientific discovery from the lab to our everyday lives. Scientists publish articles in academic journals. Exciting or important discoveries make the news and may even be incorporated into law.

Communication in Science: Definition

Let's start with the definition of communication in science.

Communication in science refers to the transmission of ideas, methods and knowledge to non-experts in an accessible and helpful way.

Communication puts scientists' discoveries out into the world. Good science communication allows the public to understand the discovery and can have many positive effects, such as:

  • Improving scientific practice by providing new information to make methods safer or more ethical

  • Promoting thought by encouraging debate and controversy

  • Education by teaching about new scientific discoveries

  • Fame, income and career enhancement by encouraging groundbreaking discoveries

Scientific communication can be used to influence law! An example where this has occurred is the Montreal Protocol. In the 1980s, a scientist named Paul J. Crutzen discovered that CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) damaged the ozone layer. His report brought the dangers of CFCs to the public eye. In 1987, the United Nations produced the Montreal Protocol. This international agreement limited the production and use of CFCs. Since then, the ozone layer has recovered. Crutzen's scientific communication helped to save the planet!

Principles of Scientific Communication

Good scientific communication should be:

  • Clear

  • Accurate

  • Simple

  • Understandable

Good science communication does not require the audience to have any scientific background or education. It should be clear, accurate, and easy for anybody to understand.

Scientific research and communication need to be unbiased. If it's not, bias can contribute to false conclusions and potentially mislead the public.

Bias is a movement away from the truth at any stage in the experiment. It can happen intentionally or unintentionally.

Scientists should be aware of possible sources of bias in their experiments.

In 1998, a paper was published suggesting that the MMR vaccine (which prevents measles, mumps and rubella) led to children developing autism. This paper had a severe case of selection bias. Only children who already had an autism diagnosis were selected for the study.

Its publication led to an increase in measles rates and negative attitudes towards autism. After twelve years, the paper was withdrawn for bias and dishonesty.

To reduce bias, scientific discoveries are subject to peer review. During this process, editors and reviewers check the work and look for any bias. If the article's bias affects the conclusions, the paper will be rejected for publication.

Types of Scientific Communication

Scientists use two types of communication to showcase their work to the world and other fellow scientists. These encompass - inward-facing and outward-facing.

Inward-facing communication is any form of communication that takes place between an expert and an expert in their chosen fields. With scientific communication, this would be between scientists from similar or different scientific backgrounds.

Scientific inward-facing communication would include things like publications, grant applications, conferences and presentations.

In contrast, outward-facing communication is directed toward the rest of society. This type of scientific communication is typically when a professional scientist communicates information to a non-expert audience.

Scientific outward-facing communication includes newspaper articles, blog posts, and information on social media.

Whatever communication type, it is essential to tailor the communication style to the audience and their level of understanding and experience. For example, scientific jargon is appropriate for inward-facing communication but unlikely to be understood by non-scientists. Overuse of complicated technical terms may distance scientists from the public.

Examples of Communication in Science

When scientists make a discovery, they need to write up their results. These results are written in the form of scientific articles, which detail their experimental methods, data and results. Next, scientists aim to publish their articles in an academic journal. There are journals for every subject, from medicine to astrophysics.

Authors must adhere to the journal's guidelines regarding length, format and referencing. The article will also be subject to peer review.

Communication in Science scientific journals library StudySmarterFigure 1 - There are an estimated 30,000 scientific journals worldwide, publishing nearly 2 million articles per year, unsplash.com

Thousands of articles are published annually, so only those considered groundbreaking or important will reach other forms of media. The article's information or critical messages will be shared in newspapers, television, textbooks, scientific posters, and online via blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media, etc.

Bias can occur when scientific information is presented in the media. The data of scientific discoveries themselves have been peer-reviewed. However, the way the findings are given is often oversimplified or inaccurate. This makes them open to misinterpretation.

A scientist studied Sunnyside Beach. They found that during July, the number of shark attacks and ice cream sales rocketed. The next day, a reporter went on TV and declared that ice cream sales caused shark attacks. There was widespread panic (and dismay for ice cream van owners!). The reporter had misinterpreted the data. What actually happened?

As the weather got warmer, more people bought ice cream and went swimming in the sea, increasing their chances of getting attacked by a shark. Sales of raspberry ripple had nothing to do with sharks!

Skills Needed for Science Communication

During your GCSEs, you'll be doing some scientific communication yourself. There are a few useful skills to learn that will help you out.

Presenting Data Appropriately

Not all data can be shown in the same way. Suppose you wanted to show how temperature affects the rate of a reaction. What type of graph is more suitable - a scatter plot or a pie chart?

Knowing how to present your data is a helpful skill in scientific communication.

Bar Charts: these charts display the frequencies of categorical data. The bars are the same width.

Histograms: these charts display classes and frequencies of quantitative data. The bars can be different widths, unlike bar charts.

Pie Charts: these charts display the frequencies of categorical data. The size of the 'slice' determines the frequency.

Scatter Plots: these charts display continuous data with no categorical variables.

Communication in Science appropriate charts computer StudySmarterFigure 2 - Using an appropriate chart can make your results visually appealing and easier to understand, unsplash.com

To create graphs, you need to be able to convert numbers into different formats.

A scientist surveyed 200 students to discover their favourite science subject. 50 of these 200 students preferred physics. Can you convert this number into a simplified fraction, a percentage and a decimal?

The ability to write and present effectively is essential for good scientific communication.

Make sure your report is clear, logical and well-structured. Check for spelling or grammar mistakes and add visual representations of your data, such as graphs.

Statistical Analysis

Good scientists know how to analyse their data.

A Graph Slope

You may need to calculate the slope of a straight line graph. To do this, pick two points along the line and note their coordinates. Calculate the difference between the x-coordinates and the y-coordinates.

The x-coordinate (i.e. going across) always goes first.

Once you've worked out the differences, divide the difference in height (y-axis) by distance (x-axis) to find out the angle of the slope.

Significant Figures

Maths-based questions will often ask for an appropriate number of significant figures. Significant figures are the first important digits after zero.

0.01498 can be rounded into two significant figures: 0.015.

Mean and Range

The mean is the average of a set of numbers. It is calculated by taking the sum and then dividing that by how many numbers there are.

The range is the difference between the smallest and largest numbers in the set.

A doctor asked three friends how many apples they eat in a week. The results were 3, 7, and 8.

Think about what the mean and range would be for this data set.

Mean = (3+7+8)/3 = 18/3 = 6

Range = 8 (largest number in set) - 3 (smallest number in set) = 5

Using Data to Make Predictions and Hypotheses

Studying data in a table or a graph can allow you to predict what will happen. Predict how tall this plant will be when it's five weeks old.

7 days6 cm
14 days12 cm
21 days18 cm
28 days24 cm
35 days?

You'll probably need to describe this trend and draw a graph to represent this data.

You can also use data to make a hypothesis.

A hypothesis is an explanation that leads to a testable prediction.

Your hypothesis for the plant growth could be:

"As the plant gets older, it gets taller. This is because the plant has time to photosynthesise and grow."

Sometimes, you are given two or three hypotheses. It's up to you to figure out which one best explains the data.

To learn more about Hypotheses and Predictions check out our article on it!

Evaluating Your Experiment

Good scientists always evaluate their work to perform a better experiment next time:

  • Your data should be accurate and precise.

Accuracy is how close a measurement is to the true value.

Precision is how close measurements are to each other.

  • If an experiment is repeatable, you could do it again and achieve the same results.

Your results may vary slightly due to random errors. These errors are inevitable, but they won't ruin your experiment.

Repeating your measurements and calculating the mean can help to reduce the impact of errors, thus improving the precision of your experiment.

An anomalous result doesn't fit with the rest of your results. If you can work out why it's different to the others (for example, you might have forgotten to calibrate your measuring equipment), you can ignore it when processing your results.

Communication in Science - Key takeaways

  • Communication in science is the transmission of ideas, methods and knowledge to non-experts in an accessible and useful way.
  • Good science communication should be clear, accurate, and easy for anybody to understand.
  • Scientists present their findings in articles which are published in academic journals. The new information may reach the public via other forms of media.
  • It's important to avoid bias in scientific research and communication. Scientists peer review each other's work to limit bias.
  • Science communication skills in your GCSE include presenting data appropriately, statistical analysis, making predictions and hypotheses, evaluating your experiment and effective writing and presentation.

1. Ana-Maria Šimundić, Bias in research, Biochemia Medica, 2013

2. AQA, GCSE Combined Science: Synergy Specification, 2019

3. BBC News, Tasmanian Tiger: Scientists hope to revive marsupial from extinction, 2022

4. CGP, GCSE AQA Combined Science Revision Guide, 2021

5. Courtney Taylor, 7 Graphs Commonly Used in Statistics, ThoughtCo, 2019

6. Diana Bocco, Here's What Stephen Hawking's Net Worth Was When He Died, Grunge, 2022

7. Doncho Donev, Principles and Ethics in Scientific Communication in Biomedicine, Acta Informatica Medica, 2013

8. Dr Steven J. Beckler, Public understanding of science, American Psychological Association, 2008

9. Fiona Godlee, Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent, BMJ, 2011

10. Jos Lelieveld, Paul J. Crutzen (1933–2021), Nature, 2021

11. Neil Campbell, Biology: A Global Approach Eleventh Edition, 2018

12. Newcastle University, Science Communication, 2022

13. OPN, Spotlight on SciComm, 2021

14. Philip G. Altbach, Too much academic research is being published, University World News, 2018

15. St Olaf College, Precision Vs. Accuracy, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions about Communication in Science

Communication in science is important to improve scientific practice, promote thought and debate, and educate the public.

Academic journals, textbooks, newspapers and infographics are examples of scientific communication.

Appropriate presentation of data, statistical analysis, using data, evaluation and good writing and presentation skills are key to ensure effective scientific communication.

Science communication should be clear, accurate, simple and understandable.

Final Communication in Science Quiz

Communication in Science Quiz - Teste dein Wissen


What is communication in science?

Show answer


Communication in science refers to the transmission of ideas, methods and knowledge to non-experts in an accessible and useful way.

Show question


Which of the following is not a key principle of science communication?

Show answer


Career enhancement

Show question


Where do scientists publish their articles?

Show answer


Scientists publish their articles in academic journals.

Show question


What is bias?

Show answer


Bias is a movement away from the truth at any stage in the experiment process. 

Show question


Bias is always intentional. True or false?

Show answer



Show question


How do scientists reduce bias?

Show answer


Scientists peer review each other's articles to check the work and look for bias.

Show question


Why are scientific discoveries often misinterpreted in media?

Show answer


The presentation of discoveries in media is often oversimplified or inaccurate.

Show question


Which of the following charts displays the frequency of categorical data?

Show answer


Pie chart

Show question


What are significant figures?

Show answer


Significant figures are the first important digits after zero.

Show question


What is the mean?

Show answer


The mean is the average of a set of numbers.

Show question


What is the range?

Show answer


The range is the difference between the smallest number and the largest number in a set.

Show question


What is a hypothesis?

Show answer


A hypothesis is an explanation that leads to a testable prediction.

Show question


What is an anomalous result?

Show answer


An anomalous result doesn't fit with the rest of your results

Show question


What does precision measure?

Show answer


Precision measures how close measurements are to each other.

Show question


What chart is suitable for displaying continuous data?

Show answer


Scatter plot

Show question

More about Communication in Science

of the users don't pass the Communication in Science quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.


Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.


Create and find flashcards in record time.


Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.


Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.


Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

Get FREE ACCESS to all of our study material, tailor-made!

Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.

Get Started for Free