How Can I Keep My Research from Being “Dumbed-Down”?
When you publish a study and it is picked up by the general press, you may feel like you’ve lost control of the story. The question in the title reflects a list of worries:
These are valid concerns. Misinterpretation is something to be avoided. However, no journalist or science writer thinks he or she is “dumbing down” scientific findings. Imagine that your economist brother-in-law is interested in what you’re working on, but he’s not very familiar with your field. Is he too “dumb” to understand it? How would you explain it to him?
Rather than worrying about whether a reporter will oversimplify your results, you can take an active role in making your work understandable to both the writer and the public. The task of translating research into simpler language, while maintaining the essence of the work, represents a different level of sophistication.
Here are a few tips that can help you transmit the essence of your work to a general audience:
Remember that to get your research the attention it deserves, you’ll need to help the writer describe your work for a lay audience. Communicating well with a science writer can make your research understandable to many who might benefit from your work.