Scientific Communication (SBI223)

10 credits

Aim of this module

Effective and appropriate communication fundamentally determines the success of any applied epidemiological study or public health response throughout its life-course. The aim of this module is to enable trainees to develop their skills to communicate complex scientific ideas to both professional and non-specialist audiences. The aim of this module is to enable trainees to develop and apply their skills to communicate complex scientific ideas to both professional and non-specialist audiences. 

  1. Create and deliver clear, concise and appropriate presentations for the relevant audience, e.g. the public, professional organisations, other healthcare professionals, decision makers.
  2. Submit an abstract for oral or poster presentation to a scientific conference.
  3. Draft a manuscript for submission to a peer-review journal.
  4. Develop and evaluate concise and appropriate briefings for mass media aimed at patients and the public.
Number Work-based learning outcome Title Knowledge
1 1

Identify the target audience and characterise their needs and prior knowledge.

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2 1

Design a presentation appropriate to this audience and context for delivery.

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3 1

Rehearse the presentation and deliver to an audience including your supervisor within allocated time.

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4 1

Design a means of gathering feedback on the presentation and critically reflect on this, identifying examples of good practice and areas for improvement.

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5 2

Identify a conference suitable for disseminating study findings and identify and invite relevant co-authors to contribute to the submission.

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6 2

Obtain relevant guidelines for abstract format from the conference website and draft an abstract conforming to guidelines.

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7 2

Agree contents of abstract with co-authors and submit.

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8 3

Identify a target journal suitable for disseminating study findings and invite relevant co-authors to contribute, ensuring any potential conflicts of interest are declared.

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9 3

Access author guidelines from journal website and draft manuscript according to International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) uniform requirements and journal house style.  

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10 3

Co-ordinate sequential rounds of distribution of draft among co-authors and integration of comments.

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11 3

Assess relative contributions of co-authors and agree authorship order accordingly.

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12 3

Submit agreed manuscript and manage ensuing process of reviewing peer-review comments, proof reading and copyright/licensing agreement.

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13 4

Agree with relevant stakeholders key messages for inclusion in the media briefing for patients and the public.

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14 4

Discuss and agree a communications strategy with the lead press officer, including identification of an appropriate spokesperson.

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15 4

Draft the press statement and background briefing materials.

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16 4

Distribute and agree press statement with relevant stakeholders and senior level sign-off.

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This module has no work-based assessments.

Important information

The academic parts of this module will be detailed and communicated to you by your university. Please contact them if you have questions regarding this module and its assessments. The module titles in your MSc may not be exactly identical to the work-based modules shown in the e-portfolio. Your modules will be aligned, however, to ensure that your academic and work-based learning are complimentary.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Evaluate the various methodologies to communicate scientific messages to different audiences, including patients and the public.
  2. Describe the principles of effective verbal, non-verbal and written presentation skills.
  3. Create and deliver effective communications materials for scientific and lay audiences.
  4. Assess and communicate the potential risks associated with presentation and publication of health information.
  5. Discuss the range of influencing and negotiating skills that can be used in a setting where you do not have direct authority to advocate for action on a public health issue.
  6. Know the process of peer-review journal publication.
  7. Describe the importance of giving and receiving constructive feedback.

Indicative Content

  • Evaluate the various methodologies to communicate scientific messages to different audiences
    • Define the audience
    • How to ensure information is presented in a way that recognises and respects different cultures
    • Social and communication theory
    • Comparison of methods of communication, e.g. broadcast and print media, web based, face-to-face methods
    • Novel and cutting-edge approaches to science communication
    • Using social media to communicate and assess the impact of mass communications
    • Introduction to science journalism and broadcasting
    • Public engagement: the diversity of the public, opportunities and limitations
    • How to determine if the information/message has been understood, by the target audience
  • Describe the principles of effective verbal, non-verbal and written presentation skills
    • Principles of public speaking and presentation
    • Preparing the message for presentation: understand the audience, visual and presentation aids
    • Principles of presenting information for the diverse needs of the public, including the use of clear unambiguous language, i.e. non-scientific language that should be easily understood
    • Preparing for presentation: body language and presence; confidence-building techniques; credibility, status and rapport using non-verbal behaviour
    • Writing skills: understand the audience, structure, content and presentation to suit different contexts
    • How communications skills affect the assessment of service users and how the means of communication should be modified to address and take account of factors such as age, physical ability and learning ability
    • When information should be provided in alternative languages to assist patients whose first language is not English
  • Create and deliver effective communications materials for scientific and lay audiences
    • Abstract writing
    • Create oral and poster (printed or electronic) presentations
    • Delivering conference presentation
    • Develop a communications strategy
    • Write press statements – identify key messages, communicating risk to patients and the public
    • Develop key messages for broadcast media aimed at patients and the public
  • Assess and communicate the potential risks associated with presentation and publication of health information
    • Sign off mechanisms within organisations: political barriers to presentation and publication
    • Disclosure issues
    • Potential for misinterpretation of data, e.g. in a legal or political setting
    • Impact on patients and the public
  • Discuss the range of influencing and negotiating skills that can be used in a setting where you do not have direct authority to advocate for action on a public health issue
    • Principles of influencing and negotiation
    • Styles of influencing
    • Building trust and rapport
    • Active listening
    • Effective questioning
    • Effective communication
    • Being assertive
    • Influencing in groups
    • Political and cultural barriers
  • Know the process of peer-review journal publication
    • Identifying the journal, e.g. audience, impact factor, open access
    • Preparing manuscript for journal submission – format, structure, authorship, contributorship
    • Post-submission process – proof reading, copyright transfer
    • Declaration of interests
  • Describe the importance of giving and receiving constructive feedback
    • Definition of feedback
    • When feedback can be given and how
    • Preparing to give feedback
    • Giving constructive feedback: evidence, effect, change
    • Receiving feedback: listen, clarify, be objective, reflect