Writing & Talking About Your Research

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By now, you have learned about your audience and have begun crafting your key messages and writing and talking about your research. Below we walk through crafting an abstract and planning a few key talking methods to incorporate in your strategy. 

 

Abstract

A well-crafted abstract introduces readers to your topic and the problem you address effortlessly. Avoid unnecessary jargon and get to the point when writing an abstract. This is an excellent place to exercise the "And, But, Therefore" statement or incorporate elements of story. Once the abstract is polished, it can be a template for other written and spoken communication. 

Below is an example of a well-crafted abstract from Global Socio-Economic Drivers of Insect Invasions:

Biological invasions are largely an unintended consequence of globalization. With increasing mobility, humans have accidentally transported organisms around the world, breaking the geographical boundaries that separated species ranges that persisted for millions of years of evolution. Among animals, insects are the most numerous group of species, with thousands of insect species having been established outside of their native ranges and many of these species causing immense impacts on agriculture, human health and conservation of native ecosystems. A team of ecologists and economists will explore the socioeconomic drivers of historical insect invasions around the world. By analysing the timing of various insect species groups, the team intends to better understand the pathways by which these species have been transported and the socioeconomic forces responsible for these invasions. The team also plans to explore how biogeographic characteristics of source species pools and properties of invaded habitats interact with these external drivers. Finally, these analyses will also seek to identify how historical implementation of quarantine policies have affected these processes. Ultimately, this information should provide critical information for improving policies aimed at minimizing future invasions as globalization expands trade and travel in the future.

 

Graphical Abstract

Increasingly, journals are encouraging the inclusion of a graphical abstract. Each journal will have their own specifications, but here is a definition from ELSEVIER: “A graphical abstract is a single, concise, pictorial and visual summary of the main findings of the article. This could either be the concluding figure from the article or a figure that is specifically designed for the purpose, which captures the content of the article for readers at a single glance.” 

 

Elevator Speech 

Whether it’s a casual conversation, a walk to the elevator, or a ride up in the elevator with a funder from a major research council, pitch your research with brevity. Giving a concise description of your research is a crucial skill. With preparation, most people can compress their ideas into key points. Focus on the problem, why it matters, the potential solutions, and the benefits of fixing it. While much of your research may focus on details and mechanisms, the elevator speech should focus on why it matters to people or affects some aspect of people’s lives. 

Step back and consider the larger purpose of the research. Focusing on the main points will help articulate the purpose of the work. Elevator speeches to other scientists can be more technical but avoid specialist vocabulary. Incorporate analogies that capture attention. 

Introduction – Necessary if you are making the introduction. Name, title, affiliation, position within the team. 

One-liner – Incorporate the title of your Pursuit to start off. If you had one sentence to explain your synthesis team research, what would you say?

The What – What is the major question or problem your team is studying? What was your motivation for the synthesis (We noticed X but no one was looking at it…)

What are you doing? How are you answering this question through synthesis?  Words like blend, integrate, unify, organize, combine, mix.