Communications Toolkit: And, But, Therefore Statement

This  is Part 6 of SESYNC's Communications Toolkit.

And, But, Therefore Statement

A photo of a river with banks on either side

And, But, Therefore is narrative storytelling device developed by Randy Olson, a Marine Scientist turned filmmaker.Whether you plan to publish your results in a scientific journal or reach a non-academic audience, having a concise description for your team’s synthesis project can help translate your work to your audiences. Narrative storytelling is a powerful tool to communicate your research.

By using a method like the “And, But, Therefore,” or ABT, you draw connections between different parts of your research, making it overall more compelling. This method engages your audience in the story at the heart of your research rather than being off-put by a monotonous listing of data, facts and findings.[2] Thinking about your research in this way also helps you narrow and focus your communication efforts to be short, visual and precise.  Below is a template for developing a short statement about your research:

[This is true and observable]   and   [this is true and observable OR this data exists],   but   [problem statement],   therefore   [this is how we are addressing the problem].
  • And allows you to hit two main points about your research. Focus on a relevant fact for the synthesis study. Or focus on an aspect of your topic you have researched for years but is new and interesting to your audience.
  • But introduces conflict! This is the heart of narrative storytelling. We transition away from the world as we knew into the reason why this research is necessary.
  • Therefore is a synthesis word that ties your goals together and promises to deliver a “resolution” to your audience. In this portion, address how your research will solve the problem articulated in the “But” statement. Your work may not be resolved, but by incorporating a resolving statement you can generate a connection between your work and your audience.

The ABT format can also be expanded to a longer paragraph by first articulating a setup of a few facts, then state the problem you are tackling and end with your resolution of how you intend to or are addressing the problem with your research. Click here for additional tips on how to write an abstract. 

Continue to the next step of the toolkit: Elements of a Story