FISH 6000 Syllabus

Science Communication for Fisheries

This course will train students in the full spectrum of science communication. The fundamentals of scientific writing, academic publishing, and oral and poster presentations will comprise the first half of the course. The second half will focus on communicating outside the academic environment, and how to responsibly disseminate research across a range of media.

  • Instructor: Dr. Brett Favaro
  • Classroom: W3018A
  • Times: Mondays 0900-1200
  • Office Hours: Thursday 0900-1200, W2009

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, students will

  • Understand what it means to be a producer of knowledge
  • Understand the basic structure and function of academic journals
  • Be fluent in academic publishing terminology (e.g. impact factors, h-index, open access)
  • Develop competencies in the basic mediums for science communication, including:
    • Written proposals (e.g. for scholarships)
    • Academic papers
    • Scientific posters
    • Oral presentations (including the use of visual aids, e.g. slides)
  • Understand that science can inform policy and public opinion
  • Learn to practice safe science communication
  • Develop competencies in communication to non-academic audiences, including:
    • Writing for popular media
    • Radio broadcasts

Expectations and Aspirations

This course will have a mixture of M.Sc and Ph.D students. Some of you may already have considerable experience in science communication - while others have none at all. My expectation is that by the end of this course, all students will have achieved a basic competency in all learning outcomes described above. But nobody is a perfect science communicator, and all of us, no matter how advanced, can stand to improve (myself included!). My goal is for you to to push yourself to become a better science communicator, and I hope to create an environment where students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone. In this course, I encourage experimentation and creativity, especially around the course assignments.

This is an active course. Every week you will write, speak, or otherwise present something to your classmates. It’s going to be challenging, but hopefully a lot of fun.

Course Structure

There will be one three-hour block each week for this course. Speaking roughly, each block will include about 1.25 hrs of lecture material and 1.25 hrs of student activity.

I have a strict no busywork policy - meaning that all course assignments are designed to help you develop and hone your science communication skills. I encourage you to take products that you produce in this course and share them, publish them, or otherwise make use of them in your research programs.

Reference Books

Most of the readings from this course will be curated from primary literature. However, I encourage all students to acquire copies of these two reference books:

Heard, Stephen B (2016). The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively throughout Your Scientific Career. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, p. 255. ISBN: 9780691170220

Olson, Randy (2015). Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, p. 256. ISBN: 9780226270845

Course Policies

Social Media

I use the hashtag #MISciComm on Twitter to highlight content that may be of interest to this course. I encourage using Twitter and other social platforms to communicate your work.

However, I want people in the class to feel comfortable pushing themselves in a supportive environment. To that end, I ask that students not tweet out content from our lectures - including things said by myself or classmates, or pictures or video of our class activities. My goal is for us to learn together, and having someone recording, tweeting, etc. the contents of discussions as they progress can be stifling.

If you wish to tweet more generally (e.g. “learning to write emails today in #MISciComm” that is acceptable).

Code of Conduct

You have the right to expect a supportive, safe environment in this course. This course will be governed by my Fisheries Science Code of Conduct, which all participants are expected to respect.

Digital Competency

Students are expected to have basic computer competency. You should be able to operate Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, or equivalent (e.g. OpenOffice or Google Docs). You should be able to download and install software onto your computer. If you lack these skills, please consult training materials prior to beginning the course. Please bring a laptop to every class.

E-mail Policy

E-mail is not a primary tool for communication in this class. If you have questions about course content, your order of operation should be:

  1. Check the syllabus
  2. Ask in class, or discuss with colleagues
  3. Ask on Slack (this way, everyone can benefit from an answer)
  4. Request a meeting with me

If emailing me a meeting request, use the subject line “FISH 6000: Meeting request.” Please indicate three potential meeting times (I prefer afternoon meetings) and explain in 1-3 lines what you want to meet about.

E-mail is impersonal, burdeonsome, and adds to confusion.

Class Participation

There will be a LOT going on in this class. Most assignments are completed mostly in-class time. The class is highly collaborative, meaning you need to be present to do it.

Accomodations will be made for serious illness or other extenuating circumstances. However, it is the student’s responsibility to stay caught up with course materials - and missing in-class activities will result in a decreased participation grade.

So please, don’t make it part of your plan to miss class!

Academic Honesty

This course is governed by MUN’s regulations on academic misconduct.

Course Schedule

Week 1: The Production of Knowledge

Week 2: The Science Publishing Ecosystem

Week 3: Proposals

Week 4: Anatomy of a Science Paper (Part 1)

Week 5: Anatomy of a Science Paper (Part 2)

Week 6: Oral Presentations

Week 7: Posters

Week 8: Presentation Week

Week 11: Talking About Your Work

Week 12: Recap and Wrap-Up

Assignments and Grading

20% of your course grade is earned by participation:

  • 50% for general participation
  • 50% for engagement for in-class assignments

80% of your grade will be earned by completing the following submitted assignments:

Assignment Start in Due in Value
Journal Week 3 Week 12 10%
Proposal Week 3 Week 4 10%
3 Minute Thesis Week 6 Week 8 15%
Poster Week 7 Week 8 5%
Popular Article Week 9 Week 11 15%
Podcast Week 10 Week 12 15%

Please see the Assignment Guide for more information