Course in Communicating Science Effectively

The Integration and Application Network teaches courses in communicating science effectively. We organize one course per year, usually in May, for any interested persons. We are also available to conduct in-house courses by arrangement.


flyer thumbnail Even excellent science only has an impact when it is effectively communicated.

Scientific papers in refereed journals are the currency of documenting the scientific process, however posters, PowerPoint presentations and the web are also essential for communicating new insights and current research to fellow scientists. These skills are readily applied to communicating at various levels – not only fellow scientists, but also resource managers and the broader community. This course provides participants with a science communication toolbox for effectively communicating their own data. At the end of the course, participants will have been introduced to the principles of effective science communication, used hands-on sessions to create their own science communication products, and been introduced to some of the software used in science communication.

good graphics example

Elements of science communication
Appropriate images and graphics are the basis of effective science communication, as they can support the spoken word or written text, justifying and reinforcing key messages. The first task in effective science communication is to collect resources including maps, satellite and local photographs, video footage, tables and figures.


Use and production of conceptual diagrams
The ability to capture main messages and concepts is the basis of effective communication. One tool that aids this process by clarifying thinking, is the production of conceptual diagrams. Conceptual diagrams can be used from ecosystem-scale processes down to detailed processes of nutrient dynamics. Participants will learn how to design and produce a conceptual diagram.

Applied principles of layout design
For posters and science newsletters, excessive text tends to turn the reader away, stopping an opportunity for effective communication. The principle of layout design is to focus on conceptual diagrams and other visual elements supported by extended explanatory legends to capture key messages. Participants will learn the skills to design their own science newsletters and posters.

good layout example

example powerpoint

Oral Presentations
Scientific conferences and other meetings are the forum for discussing the newest ideas and concepts. Therefore being able to communicate orally is essential, and effectively using PowerPoint can assist greatly in ensuring that an audience understands and retains key messages

Course Details


2-3 December, 2017


$ 150.00

Cancellations made more than one week from the course commencement date will be entitled to a full refund. Cancellations after this date will be subject to a $50 administrative fee.


Horn Point Laboratory
2020 Horns Point Rd, Cambridge, MD


December 2nd, 2017

  • 9:00 am Setup, coffee, and light breakfast
  • 10:00 am Welcome and Introductions
  • 10:20 am An introduction to effective science communication
  • 10:40 am Data Visualization
  • 12:00 pm Lunch
  • 1:00 pm Data Visualization (continued)
  • 2:00 pm Integration
  • 4:00 pm Work on products
  • 5:00 pm Wrap-up
  • 5:30-7:00 pm Barbecue (IAN waterfront location)

December 3rd, 2017

  • 8:30 am Coffee and light breakfast
  • 9:00 am Data visualizations review
  • 10:00 am Publications
  • 12:15 pm Lunch
  • 1:15 pm Publications (continued)
  • 2:00 pm Advanced Science Communication tools
  • 3:30 pm Work on products
  • 4:30 pm Wrap-up
  • 5:00 pm Adjourn


Dorm rooms. $45 per night.

Participant Eligibility:

This course is limited to Knauss fellows


Use this form to register for our science communication course.
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Once you have registered, you will also need to pay for the course (at least one month before the course start date). After you complete your registration, you will have the option to pay online or send us a check. You will also receive a link to the payment system in your registration confirmation email so you can pay at a later date if you wish.

*Please select the course you wish to register for:

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How many days of accommodation at the UMCES dormitory would you like (leave blank if none)?

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Course participants MUST come to the course with their own computer with the following software already loaded and configured. If you have any problems please email

Computer Hardware

  • Laptop with wireless internet
  • Computer mouse (not laptop touchpad)

Computer Software

Science Communication Resources and Tutorials

Students are REQUIRED to study all of the following resources:

Choose potential topics and gather resources

Please come prepared with a variety of resources for working on a poster or newsletter.

  • Photographs (e.g. your site, research techniques/methods, organisms)
  • Satellite images of your study site
  • Maps (in vector format, if possible)
  • Data, including graphs and spreadsheets


  • Thank you very much, this course was extremely useful (I rank it as one of the most useful courses, if not the most useful course that I have taken in my graduate study).
  • The only bad thing about this course is now I am considered a guru among my lab and collaborators!
  • What a group of talented and interesting individuals!!! The IAN group is not only technically impressive but really took care of us food and entertainment wise!!! After five intensive days, my brain was fried but I'm hoping I retain most of what I learned in order to do a few brown-bag lunch presentations to my office staff so we can all benefit.
  • This course is an excellent introduction to improving our science education skills. The nearly equal emphasis between lecture and practice is very helpful.
  • The instructor:student ratio was fantastic - this was the first course where I felt like I actually learned the basics about the software to make my ideas a reality. After raving about your course to my co-workers, I have had several requests from people to ask that you come to Oxford to teach them about Illustrator. I can teach them some things, but I'm not an expert like you guys… Thanks for all of your help. It really was one of the best courses I have ever taken.


Course Handbook

Communicating Science Effectively: A Practical Handbook for Integrating Visual Elements

This is a practical handbook on how to communicate science effectively: what effective science communication is, why it is important, and how to do it. It details techniques and principles for communicating in different media — desktop publishing (including posters and newsletters), presentations and websites.

Course Presentations

An introduction to effective science communication pdf icon
Conceptual diagrams: A tool for effective science communication pdf icon
Pointing with Power: Using PowerPoint Effectively pdf icon
Environmental report cards: A tool to integrate monitoring data, engage stakeholders and catalyze actions pdf icon
Publications: Principles of layout design pdf icon

Discussion Forum

Please visit our discussion forum for getting help and sharing ideas for all aspects of science communication and technical software assistance. If you have questions we will be monitoring these forums and will get back to you ASAP.

Image Library

Visit our Image Library to download photos and contribute your photos so we all have a resource for scientific photos of the Chesapeake region (be sure to read the Image Library Guide before posting).