Peer Story

Why Science Communication Matters

Dr. Torsten Weber initiated an alumni project on science communication and reveals hacks for researchers how to communicate results to society. Torsten is a historian of modern and contemporary East Asia and alumnus of our Leadership Academy.
  1. Torsten, why do you think science communication matters for researchers and what role does it play in society?

Science Communication matters, because it connects researchers with society. In order to do in-depth and cutting edge research, scholars spend much time in ’self-isolation‘ or among their peers. Without science communication their results often stay within that small community and have no real impact on society at large.

Science Communication is also a very helpful tool for researchers to explain to people outside of their field and outside of academia why they spend so much time and money on what they are doing — often taxpayers‘ money.

„…build a virtual network of colleagues…“

  1. As a postdoc in the humanities, how do you communicate your research? What is your favorite (social media) tool?

When I started my latest project – analyzing John Rabe’s wartime diaries written in China during the Japanese occupation – I created a research blog (rabediaries.hypotheses.org) and started Twitter (@stenweber).

I think both tools have helped me a lot in explaining the purpose and relevance of my research to people outside of my field. Twitter is also great to build a virtual network of colleagues which is particularly helpful these days to stay in touch and to exchange ideas.

 

 

Torsten is a member of our alumni network AlumNode and alumnus of our Leadership Academy (18/19).

Together with Dr. Anna-Sophie Jürgens, who also participated in this Leadership Academy, he initiated the project „Communicate Your Research“, a workshop for young researchers.

„I think it is important to leave one’s comfort zone and to address the audience as directly as possible.“

  1. What are three essential skills for a strategic approach of pitching research results?

I wish I knew myself. I think it is important to leave one’s comfort zone and to address the audience as directly as possible: how does my research link to the knowledge or experience in the daily lives of the audience? How is my research relevant to their lives – or at least interesting enough for them to keep listening or watching?

I have found out that working on Japan and China gives me an ‚advantage of exoticism‘. Saying and explaining a few words in Japanese or in Chinese usually helps to get attention, even if what I say may be rather banal.

 

  1. Last but not least: What is your favorite communication hack for postdocs?

For me it would be: Don’t practice communication hacks. Be authentic.

 

For more information on the alumni project „Communicate Your Research“ please visit our alumni platform AlumNode.