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Tools for effective science communication (Presentation) Permanent Link

Author(s): Dennison WC and Carruthers TJB

Bill Dennison and Tim Carruthers presented a Webinar on tools for science communication for the Ecosystem Based Management Tools Network. Bill was also presenting to a live audience at the State of the Hudson River Watershed Conference in Hyde Park, NY. The web audience included participants from 23 US states and 12 countries, and was followed by a lively discussion on methods and approaches to science communication.



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Oceanography: An Observer's Guide (Book) Permanent Link

For sailors, fishermen, yachtsmen, merchant seamen, Navy and Coast Guard personnel, midshipmen and cadets, Sea Semester students...and everyone else going to sea.

Author(s): Nelson Marshall

While engaged in professional oceanographic research and teaching, Marshall, like the postman who goes for a hike on Sundays, spent much of his free time cruising in his 30-foot auxiliary sloop. Underway he realized that, with the equipment readily available on vessels, whether large or small, interested observers could learn a great deal about their surroundings. This prompted him, in his retirement, to write Oceanography: An Observer's Guide. It was Professor Marshall's hope that this book would enrich the experience of all who travel on the high seas.

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Print & PDF $15.00
Print Only $12.00
PDF Only $6.00
PDF by the section $1.50


Enclosed Experimental Ecosystems and Scale: Tools for Understanding and Managing Coastal Ecosystems (Book) Permanent Link

Author(s): Petersen JE, Kennedy VS, Dennison WC and Kemp WM (Eds.)

The environmental challenges now facing humanity are particularly acute in the coastal zone. Research in this region and in other aquatic ecosystems is complicated by interactions that occur over broad scales of time, space, and ecological complexity. Enclosed experimental ecosystems have become critical research tools because they provide a degree of control not achievable through field experiments. Yet to date, techniques for systematically extrapolating results to larger, more open, more biodiverse, and more heterogeneous ecosystems in nature have not been well developed. This book is designed to provide a comprehensive and practical guide and reference for improving the design and interpretation of research conducted in experimental ecosystems.



Integration and Application Network (Poster) Permanent Link

Presented at the Asia Water Management and Technology Forum in Baltimore on 23rd October, 2008

This poster outlines the Integration and Application Network; who we are, our mission, where we work, and what we provide. We are a collection of highly trained, highly motivated scientists and communicators interested in solving, not just studying environmental problems. The Integration and Application Network (IAN) is an initiative of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, but links with other academic institutions, resource management agencies, and non-governmental organizations. We are based in Maryland, but work globally and provide a range of science communication tools, products, training, and environmental syntheses.



Global Warming Is Here (Poster) Permanent Link

In 2007, Governor O'Malley asked a scientific team, chaired by UMCES President Dr. Donald F. Boesch, to assess the impacts of climate change in Maryland. The key points from this assessment are summarized in this poster created by IAN staff.



Maryland at Risk: Sea-level rise adaptation & response (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Action is needed now to stem not only the drivers of climate change but also to prepare for the inevitable consequences. With over 3,000 miles of coastline, Maryland is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Historic tide-gauge records reveal that sea levels along Maryland's extensive coastline have risen approximately one foot over the past one hundred years. This relative sea level rise is due to a combination of global sea-level rise and localized land subsidence. As our climate changes, sea levels are expected to continue to rise and the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase, potentially twice as fast in the 21st century as the 20th century. Thus, sea level rise in Maryland could be another one foot by 2050 and as much as three feet by 2100. Low lying regions in Maryland will be placed further at risk due to innudation and flooding.



Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland's Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase 1: Sea-level rise and coastal storms (Report) Permanent Link

A report to the Maryland Commission on Climate Change from the Adaptation and Response Working Group.

This is Chapter 5 of the Climate Action Plan, Governor Martin O'Malley's appointed Maryland Commission on Climate Change report. It makes recommendations to state lawmakers and policy makers to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise and storm by taking action and committing resources to protect Maryland's future economic well-being, environmental heritage, and public safety.



River Journeys (Book) Permanent Link

Published by the International Riverfoundation, with contributions by Jane Thomas and Bill Dennison from the Integration and Application Network.

This richly illustrated book provides personal accounts derived from interviews with Riverprize recipients over the past 10 years.



Global Warming and the Free State: Comprehensive Assessment of Climate Change Impacts in Maryland (Report) Permanent Link

A report to the Maryland Commission on Climate Change from the Scientific and Technical Working Group. Edited by Donald F. Boesch. Designed and produced by Jane M. Hawkey.

This is Chapter 2 of the Climate Action Plan, Governor Martin O'Malley's appointed Maryland Commission on Climate Change report on the impacts and recommended actions to protect Maryland's property and people from the effects of climate change.



Conceptual Diagrams: tools for effective science communication (Presentation) Permanent Link

This presentation is part of a mini-workshop conducted at the Society for Technical Communication's Technical Communication Summit on June 4, 2008.



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About

"Writing crystallizes thought and thought produces action." Paul J. Meyer

Goals

A goal of IAN Press is to empower scientists to directly communicate their ideas and concepts. Publications from IAN Press are designed to transform the uninterested to interested; the interested to involved and the involved to engaged.

IAN Press products are designed to be examples of good science communication principles, and the hope is that others will employ these principles so that scientific understanding can be disseminated widely as possible. The production of IAN Press communication publications involves experimentation with communication techniques and, as such, provides various ideas for science communication that can be emulated.

The comparisons and contrasts that IAN Press provides on environmental subjects intend to stimulate scientists, managers, practitioners, policy makers, students and other readers to think more broadly and expansively about the region and issues that they face. The extensive use of visual elements accesses a broader cultural diversity as well, which allow for more global perspectives.

The conclusions and recommendations presented in IAN Press publications are crafted to empower actions, plant seeds of ideas and provide justification for people to take appropriate action to find solutions to environmental problems. The conclusions are made as explicit as possible by employing active titles and featuring them prominently (e.g., front section of books or back cover of newsletters).

On costs

IAN Press does not provide author royalties and the design and layout of the publications conducted by a talented team of Science Communicators is underwritten by various grants and contracts. Marketing is limited to the internet and word-of-mouth, also reducing costs. Thus, the price of IAN Press publications is solely to reimburse the actual printing costs entailed. The intent is to provide the broadest possible readership, thus keeping costs as low as possible is paramount. Typically, full color is used, virtually on every page, which does increase print costs, however, the use of color is a key element in providing accessible information to a wide audience and the lack of author royalties or design/layout charges.

Peer review

IAN Press undertakes a rigorous review process by both peer scientists and resource managers. In addition, Integration and Application Network Science Integrators and Science Communicators read, edit and review all aspects of IAN Press publications, including text, conceptual diagrams, photographs, maps, figures and tables. Many IAN Press publications are multi-authored, and each author contributes to the review and editing of the entire publication. This is not the classical peer review system of a limited number of anonymous reviewers working with an editor to recommend changes, rather a larger number of non-anonymous reviewers that develop consensus on each word, visual element and recommendation. The review process is often accelerated by IAN Press to accommodate timely publication.

Authorship

IAN Press attempts to be as authorship inclusive as possible and to provide attribution to each visual element. Authorship is not ranked or ordered, and the credibility of the IAN Press product should be based on the scientific data presented and the collective effort of a multiple of contributors, both with and without formal academic training.

Science Communicators are the key element in the production of IAN Press documents. They design the layout of the document, obtain and edit the visual elements, designate the amount and style of text, and orchestrate the review and editing process. IAN Press documents are produced using a 'storyboard' approach, in which the central message(s) are identified and various visual elements selected to support the central message(s). This is in contrast to the more traditional method of writing text and adding in visuals subsequently. In video and film production, storyboards are used and the producer is key to assembling the visual elements. Science Communicators serve in an equivalent role in terms of assembling all the pieces that go into the publication.

Color

IAN Press relies extensively on color for photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, figures and even text and tables to a limited degree. The use of color allows for an increased data density and provides a bigger visual impact considering the amount of the human brain devoted to visual discrimination of colors. Color allows for greater discrimination of visual elements and in data presentation, a closer juxtaposition of different elements and greater comparative utility. The preponderance of color printers and the ability of electronic versions to be displayed in color promote the inexpensive dissemination of full color documents. In order to help color-blind people compensate, an effort is made to provide other visual clues in graphics, such as symbols with different shapes or map delineations with different shading or texture, but some of the visual impact will be compromised.

Audience

IAN Press does not target a narrow, specific audience, rather attempts to be as inclusive as possible. As the world becomes more specialized, with marketing forces that promote highly targeted advertising campaigns, IAN Press products attempt to reach the broadest audience possible. IAN Press attempts to raise the bar rather than dumb down the message by using non-technical language, defining all terms and reducing acronym use. By providing synthesis, visualizations and context, we feel that relatively sophisticated concepts can be grasped by a non-technical audience. In fact, science has become highly specialized and often the language, tools and approaches used in various scientific disciplines are relatively incomprehensible to specialists in other disciplines. Thus, one audience of IAN Press is scientists from other specialties to encourage inter-disciplinary thinking and approaches.

Why use print media?

With the growing popularity of electronic media, the carbon footprint involved in producing and distributing paper products, and the ability to provide infinite resources via the web, it could be argued that IAN Press should disseminate entirely via electronic means. While IAN Press provides downloadable, web accessible materials, IAN Press continues to produces written products for the following reasons:

  1. There is rigor and discipline required in producing science communication products that have limited 'real estate', that, is limited amounts of space to convey a message. A paper product maintains focus, while web links can lead to tangential issues. The priority setting required to establish the final layout and include various communication elements is important in conveying information. Fixed 'real estate' forces condensation, synthesis and integration. Every visual element is uniquely created for the purpose of conveying the specific information intended, rather than repurposed from other sources.
  2. The written product invites non-linear reading, and a quick scan allows readers to delve into the visual elements most interesting to them. If a reader is most attracted to photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, or figures, they can migrate to these elements and the figure legends should be self explanatory. Alternatively, if reading text is the preferred way of obtaining information, the text is designed to be self sufficient. The juxtaposition of text and various visual elements also conveys important information, something that can be lost via hyperlinks on the web. In addition, electronic books with the current technology do not support color graphics.
  3. Since various IAN Press products are intended to inform a broad community from policy makers to the general public, the weight of scientific support that can be marshaled can be a factor in empowering people to action. In order to make an impact, the difference between hundreds of web pages and hundreds of printed pages is one reason to provide print versions of IAN products. In addition, internet access is not equally applied globally or socially, and in some societies and sectors of society, a written product provides a more accessible source, particularly through libraries and schools.
  4. Printed materials provide a 'time stamp', a fixed point of time when the data are assembled and the conclusions are reached. Rather than constantly updating the data and conclusions, drawing the line in the sand as to what is known at a particular time point is what printed products do. The shelf life of science communication products should be somewhat limited due to the increased scientific understanding based on ongoing research, yet the record of what is known, and when it is known, provides an important archival body of information.
  5. "The product drives the collaborative process"; in that the science communication product forces an intensely collaborative process of obtaining and refining visual elements, drafting and editing text, and experimenting with layout and design. While this collaborative process can be conducted with the production of web materials, print deadlines are a good way to insure timely delivery. In addition, to obtain buy-in from many scientists whose training and experience are in producing printed papers and books, printed copies are often necessary.