Postgraduate study skills in science, technology or mathematics
Postgraduate study skills in science, technology or mathematics

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3.6 End of section exercises

Portfolio exercises

After reading Section 3 you might conduct one of the following three exercises as part of your Portfolio evidence of achievement. You may like to discuss this activity with your supervisor.

Exercise 1

Demonstrate that you can communicate in an engaging way with the public by developing a weblog (also known as a blog) on your PhD research, recording the progress of your research and training for at least one month.

You should develop opportunities for science communication that are available to the public in a dialogic format (through feedback comments) and that represent the ‘human’ element of the scientist, addressing the issues raised by the activity involving the reading of Medawar (1999).

Your Portfolio submission should include the weblog and a report on the experience of producing the weblog. You should reflect on any feedback that you have received from the public, noting the strengths and weaknesses of your approach and any lessons that you have learned from the experience.

Free blogging software is available on the internet, as well as advice and guidance on how to produce a weblog, e.g. see this article from Guardian Unlimited.

Exercise 2

Demonstrate that you can communicate in an engaging way with the public by participating in an outreach activity, or public engagement event, e.g. in a local school, through a public lecture, participation in a consultation exercise or active participation in National Science Week.

Produce a report outlining the structure and content of the activity and any planning that you engaged in, drawing on the ideas and themes discussed in this section and its associated readings.

The Researchers in Residence programme is an example of an outreach activity which encourages scientists to spend time in a school, see

For more information about National Science Week, which is run by the British Association, see

[Either report should be between 1000 and 2000 words long, excluding references.]

Exercise 3

Produce a short essay that demonstrates your understanding of issues relevant to contemporary science communication.

This essay should consider issues of production and reception when communicating science through a medium of your choice. In so doing, you should consider your role as a research scientist within these processes. The text of this course and the further reading material should support this exercise.

[The essay should be between 2000 and 2500 words long, excluding references.]

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