Writing for a lay-audience requires a different focus to writing a scientific paper. Focus of the big picture: Why is this exciting? How does this change our understanding? What is this useful for?
Your readers at TheScienceBreaker don't know the jargon of your field, and don't need detailed methodology. Keep your break light and enjoyable.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHILE WRITING A BREAK
- TITLE: Short, catchy, but NOT misleading. It could also be funny.
- ASTRACT: The abstract will be used to draw readers in. Make sure to make is interesting, and leaves the technical details for the main text.
- GENERAL INTRODUCTION: Give a general context in which to discuss the study. The reader should be able place the results of the study in a broader context. Introduce broad technical concepts that will be needed further down. Try to connect the ideas (if possible) with some aspect of day-to-day life of the reader. Ask yourself: Why would a lay-reader care about this?
- INTRODUCTION TO STUDY: Usually, a study will focus on a specific aspect of the “phenomenon” introduced above. Explain how this study fits into the general phenomenon, and the main question/driving hypothesis/interest of this study. Also, you can use this section to introduce other, more study-specific technical concepts that will be needed when explaining the methodology.
- METHODOLOGY: Explain the methodology in a clear and concise manner. Avoid technical jargon as much as possible (this is where most of us scientists struggle to keep it simple). The lay-reader should have a good idea of how the study was conducted, so that they can be aware of its impact and limitations. Try to explain how the methodology addresses the questions of the study.
- RESULTS: This tends to be the most fun part to write! Many readers may not fully understand the impact of the study, so try to keep the main results connected to the methodology, AND to the introductory parts. To help with this, use the same terms throughout the break, and connect results with the questions raised earlier. Feel free to tell a story, so that it is fluid, i.e. “we did x to answer p, but then we realized qrs. Based on this, we decided to go for y and z, and we finally were able to see that tuv!”, instead of just listing results.
- CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES What is the take home message your reader should remember? How does this answer the question and fit into the general context? Feel free to state the limitations of the study, the answers it provides and the new questions it raises. Try and connect these results to the reader's day-to-day life. Try and spark the reader's curiosity by asking questions or discussing possible future uses/findings.
TIPS & TRICKS
- First sentence should let the audience know why this research is important
- Spell out its relevance and impact of the study. Why should your non-scientist friend care?
- Use short sentences and paragraphs
- Don't use any scientific jargon, every-day words and phrases would work better
- Focus on the results that are interesting for the reader. Detailed descriptions of methods and experimental setups only distract from the message
- Leave out details, numbers, and irrelevant facts
- Cap things off at the end so a non-expert comes away with a strong, simple take-home message
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