Can ChatGPT write a #SciComm grant proposal?

Image displays screenshot of author's interaction with the ChatGPT AI bot. This screenshot was an attempt to recreate the initial chat, because I didn't think to take a screenshot before I ended the chat and logged out. But, the bot responded slightly differently from the transcript linked to in the blog post. So, here's a transcript of the recreation attempt, which only involved 3 comment/response pairs. Me: I'd like to show you some writing I did, to see what you think. ChatGPT: Sure, I'd be happy to take a look and provide my thoughts. Please share your writing with me. Me: Can I paste in text? ChatGPT: Yes, you can paste the text here, and I'll take a look. (Note, the first time, the bot added a caveat that I could paste text if it wasn't too long. It did not clarify that this time.) Me: It's about 2400 words. Is that too long to paste in? ChatGPT: That might be a bit long to paste in here, but you can try to paste it, and we'll see if it works. Alternatively, you can upload the text file to a file-sharing service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, and share the link with me.
This screenshot was an attempt to recreate the initial chat, because I didn’t think to take a screenshot before I ended the chat and logged out. But, the bot responded slightly differently from the transcript linked to in the blog post. My recreation attempt, only involved 3 comment/response pairs. (Detailed alt text provided)

Origins of a Friday-morning “rabbit hole”: Can’t we make/let writing be easier?!

We’ve been hearing a lot of handwringing and concern about ChatGPT up-ending education. We’ve also been hearing a lot of innovative ideas about how to engage with ChatGPT as a teaching tool (which is, let’s be clear, mainly an effort to make sure ChatGPT doesn’t become the beginning and end of student work and writing).

Of all the approaches I’ve heard, the one that seems most straightforward is to have students use ChatGPT to generate first drafts. That would get developing writers past the daunting blank page, wrangle some initial thoughts into a form that can be refined and enhanced, etc., etc.

But, there’s been a thought tickling the back of my mind as I’ve listened to all these discussions, chatted a bit about it with colleagues, and even shared some commentaries with folks looking for perspectives: “Are we really only going to set up these frameworks of expectation and standards of use/engagement for students?”

Yes, there are already some cite-the-bot or attribute-co-authorship policies coming online.

But, I’m actually thinking more of our own writing, at our own keyboards.

Surely, even the writery writers among us would love to have that first draft be easier.

Continue reading “Can ChatGPT write a #SciComm grant proposal?”

Science communication bibliography

Screenshot of the bibliography linked to in this post. Follow the links for an accessible, plain-text version.
Screenshot of the bibliography linked to in this post. Follow the links for an accessible, plain-text version.

If you’re looking for a starting point for understanding evidence-based, inclusive science communication, the literature about science communication can be overwhelming. This body of literature, sometimes known as the science of science communication, is actually a collection of disciplines that ranges from behavioral psychology to economics, and from writing studies to data visualization, and more.

The course bibliography I distribute in my undergraduate and graduate courses on science communication can be a helpful orientation to these bodies of literature and how you can apply them to a range of concepts and challenges inherent in science communication. The course bibliography is organized by topic area, following the three major modules in my course on Applied Principles of Science Communication:

  • Foundations of Science Communication
    • Science of SciComm 101
    • Connecting Science & Society
    • Understanding Interest Groups, Influencers, and Impacted Groups
    • Goals & Planning
    • Decision-making
    • Politicization of Science & Misinformation
    • Proposals & Annotated Bibliographies
  • Tools for Science Communication
    • Plain Language
    • Graphic Design Essentials
    • Social Media for SciComm
    • Fine-Tuning SciComm Messaging
    • One-Pagers, Issue Briefs & Policy Briefs
    • SciComm Blogs
  • The Practice of Science Communication
    • Implementation
    • Reflection
    • Assessment

Exciting news: I’m (co-)writing a book!

Hand holding a megaphone. Text reads BREAKING NEWS in all caps
Image: breaking news, © Jernej Furman CC BY 2.0 via

I’ve been itching to share this news, and now I can: I’m writing a book I’ve been wanting to write for nearly a decade!!

I’m co-writing it with Stephen Heard. It’s been hard to keep this quiet for so long, but we’ve just signed a contract with the University of Chicago Press (UCP), so now it’s official. Hooray! 🥳

What’s the book about, you ask? Well, it’s not (technically) about science communication, and it’s not about art-science integration. (Maybe, 🤞🤞 I’ll write books on those topics someday!) Instead, this book is something I’ve been working on in the background, just not writing much about here on CommNatural.

The CommNatural audience (that’s you!) is pretty omnivorous in its interests, and many of you may not even be academics or involved with science. That’s okay. The key thing to know is that I work with, coach, teach, and consult with a lot of folks who find helping students (or other developing writers) write better is difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating. And Steve and I know these folks want help – they ask us for it. That’s where our book comes in.

Ever since I started training in writing pedagogy, I’ve recognized an opportunity to help folks deal with something our book tackles head-on. Our working title is Helping Students Write in the Sciences: Strategies for Efficient and Effective Mentoring of Developing Writers. Writing is a huge part of the job of a scientist, and it’s hard – but teaching and mentoring writing is too, and it’s harder.

Continue reading “Exciting news: I’m (co-)writing a book!”

Meteor: The honest podcast about scicomm with impact

Decorative image only: Screenshot of website linked to in blog post. Follow links to access full content.

Last year, I launched Meteor, a podcast, with friend, collaborator, and fellow dreamer-schemer Virginia Schutte. We just wrapped Season 2 a few weeks ago, and I am so pleased to have so much to share with you!

We started Meteor because we crave advanced-user conversations with other mid-career scicomm professionals (like us!). We intended to use Meteor to learn and grow together, and check each other when we need it. Our plan was to dig into things as wide-ranging as branding, projects that matter, privilege, and inclusive science communication, with actionable, tangible steps to level up.

I have been working in scicomm for over 20 years, and it’s like you are inside my head. ~Meteor listener

In the first ten episodes, we covered all sorts of topics. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • What we think scicomm needs
  • Branding is not a dirty word
  • The privilege of volunteering
  • Balance, schmalance (about work-life balance)
Continue reading “Meteor: The honest podcast about scicomm with impact”

Why sketching matters + some of the many ways we can use sketches in SciArt and SciComm

I recently gave an invited talk/interview for a high school scientific illustration class. It was so much fun to think with them about the many ways that an illustration can operate in the world. I also chatted with them about my favorite supplies, and why I think sketching is a valuable part of training in science and related fields.

Here’s a link to the excerpt of my conversation where I shared these things.