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Zen and the art of science communication Permanent Link

October 2003 HPL, MD

This 49 slide presentation describes the importance of good communication of scientific results. It shows techniques for effective science communication, including the use of conceptual diagrams, maps, photos, tables & figures, and video. Specific details are presented for preparing good proposals, presentations, posters, papers, websites, newsletters, books, mass media, and video.

Chesapeake Bay report card: Providing effective feedback for resource management Permanent Link

September 2003 Chesapeake Bay Seminar Series, Annapolis MD

This 47 slide presentation details the importance of the report card process as a management tool. Examples from Australia show the effectiveness of a spatially explicit report card in initiating management actions, as well as providing feedback for these actions. Results from a pilot study in the Choptank and Patuxent Rivers in Chesapeake Bay are presented along with an Ecosystem Health Index (EHI) for the 2 regions. A stable isotope technique was used in the development of the EHI to look at sources of nitrogen. The merits of incorporating additional parameters are discussed.

The art of science communication: using PowerPoint effectively Permanent Link

June 2003 HPL, MD

This 67 slide presentation describes some of the key issues for producing Powerpoint Presentations for effective science communication. It highlights the need for effective science communication (including the 10 commandments!). Several examples of bad presentations are included to identify common mistakes. Examples of effective usage of key elements (conceptual diagrams, maps, photos, video clips, tables & figures and text) are detailed, along with more technical issues such as file format and layout are discussed. The presentation finished with a 'Rules of Thumb' list for producing good science communication PowerPoint presentations.

Nutrient limitation in coastal waters: The Moreton Bay, Australia case study Permanent Link

April 2003 Brisbane, Australia

This 19 slide presentation discusses the processes of nutrient limitation in coastal waters; the difficulties of inferring limitation from nutrient budgets; the importance of nutrient budgets for developing, research, monitoring and management priorities; and highlights some of the methods used effectively to determine limiting nutrients in Moreton Bay. It concludes with some of the problems associated with using the concept of 'limiting nutrient' to translate into useful management actions.

Status of Bay forage fish populations and investigations of factors impacting prominent forage fish species Permanent Link

Wood RJ and Houde ED

This presentation details selected results of a two-year CBSAC funded investigation into forage fish populations in Chesapeake Bay

Assessing Nutrient Sources in Tidal Waters Permanent Link

March 2003 Reducing Nitrogen Pollution from Septic Systems' forum, Laurel, MD

This 17 slide presentation describes the use of a stable isotope technique developed in Australia to determine nitrogen sources in Chesapeake Bay. It details the theory of the technique, and its application in Moreton Bay, Australia, where it is now incorporated into the ongoing monitoring program (www.healthywaterways.org). The δ15N technique was found to reliably detect the source and extent of sewage and aquaculture nitrogen plumes. Additional data suggested that agricultural and septic sources could also be detected. This technique is now being tested in the Choptank and Patuxent Rivers and results of this research will appear on the IAN website.

Conceptual Diagrams: A tool for science communication Permanent Link

Various dates and locations

This 67 slide presentation describes the use of conceptual diagrams as science communications tools in presentations, science newsletters, books and peer reviewed journal articles. It provides historical and recent examples of good conceptual diagrams, as well as the ten commandments for conceptual diagrams. A mini tutorial is included to guide you through the process of making a conceptual diagram in Illustrator and PowerPoint, as well as how to make new symbols.

Environmental problem solving in coastal regions Permanent Link

November 2002 International Water Association Sustainability Workshop, Venice, Italy March 2003 Wetland Ecosystems of Asia, Hong Kong, China

This 46 slide presentation presents a overview of global coastal issues as well as case studies to drive home the timeliness and appropriateness of focusing efforts on environmental problem solving in coastal regions. Summaries developed in Land Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone workshops are presented as well as detailed case studies of environmental problem solving in Moreton Bay, Australia and Chesapeake Bay, USA. Aspects of several other case studies are also invoked and the recommendations for both Chesapeake Bay efforts as well as global efforts are made.

Balancing limitation and excess: ecophysiological implications for seagrass survival Permanent Link

October 2002 5th International Seagrass Biology Workshop, Ensenada, Mexico

This 28 slide presentation presents an overview of seagrass ecophysiology, focusing on light, nutrients, water motion, sediment accretion and grazing as major features influencing seagrasses globally. The balance between limitation and excess is given for each of the environmental factors, with real world examples identified. Differences between tropical vs. temperate seagrass communities are highlighted. This presentation serves to demonstrate that, generalizations about seagrass ecophysiology must be scrutinized and rigorously tested in a variety of locations.

Assessing ecosystem health in coastal waters Permanent Link

June 2003 Oceanology International 2003, New Orleans June 2002 Healthy Ecosystems: Healthy People Conference, Washington DC

This 33 slide presentation outlines a quantitative method of assessing ecosystem health using a case study of Moreton Bay, Australia. Background information about Moreton Bay is presented, a conceptual diagram of ecosystem health and the various indicators selected is used to develop the principles of the monitoring program. Data from a multi-institution, multi-disciplinary monitoring effort is measured, modeled and mapped. An integrated map (area-weighted averaging) of ecosystem health results and report card values for various generated based on this map.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.