How To... Help with Outreach

In our new series of blogs we want to shine a light on some of the basics that researchers undertake in their day-to-day lives and provide guidance for early-career researchers. There are some tasks that a researcher will never have any official training in but are expected to do as part of their jobs. We hope these blogs make it easier. The first blog in this "How To..." series focuses on outreach. 

Science is fun and interesting! That’s why researchers choose to do the job that they do! But a large part of a researcher's job is communicating new results to the wider scientific and public community – sometimes referred to as ‘outreach’. So here’s a quick ‘How To…’ guide to provide some insight into everything outreach.

What is outreach?

The process of communicating science to others. It usually refers to educating the public in science and other topics they might not encounter in day to day life.

Why do outreach?

It is rewarding and can be a lot of fun. The general public funds a lot of research through taxes and it is a great way to demonstrate why science is important. Also, it is a great way to show your results to others and may allow you to appear on TV or help with a film related to your research (e.g. Jurassic Park!).

How do you do outreach?

Outreach can happen on all scales; it can be as simple as talking to an individual or running an international science festival! However, regardless of the size of the project there are some things you should always remember:

1.    Be age and material appropriate – a 4-year old child will not have the same understanding of the world as their parent. Therefore, we have to tailor the words and activities we use for the situation.

2.    Be engaging – asking people questions or having an activity for participants can help keep the audiences’ attention.

3.    Be organised – it is important to have everything set up and ready to go ahead of time. Think about what materials you will need and how the event will run.

4.    Be ready for questions – people love asking questions back! Make sure you know a bit more than just about the field you work in.

Want to know more?

The best way to become more involved with outreach is to join an existing project in your nearby community. There’s lots of materials out there if you search the internet. There’s also events run through international organisations (e.g. AGU, RAS, EGU etc) which you can join. Take a look at the websites below to be inspired:


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Hannah Rogers has just submitted her PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh and is a member of the IAGA Social Media team. Her specialism is in investigating regional magnetic fields of Earth at the surface and the core-mantle boundary using mathematical methodologies. You can follow her on Twitter at @Hannah_Rogers94.


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