Floor did a science communication internship at The Online Scientist. We think Floor did an amazing job, and helped a lot of scientists create beautiful reports, infographics, and websites about their research. In this article she shares her internship report and the 7 lessons she learned while working with us.

On being a scientist

What I love about being a scientist is this: the opportunity to take fascinating knowledge, chew on it, and devise a plan to build upon it. To push at the boundary of human knowledge and make a dent, however small. To think that at some point, that dent can give way to something that can help someone.

What I don’t love about science is that fascinating knowledge can easily be dulled into seemingly non-fascinating, dry facts. When we all adhere to the same standards, things become repetitive. Surely, there are ways to make science more appealing and enjoyable, also to those who are not scientists themselves.

Science is to push at the boundary of human knowledge and make a dent, however small

Why science needs a pretty package

Humans are generally drawn to beauty. I know I am. I love things that look beautiful, like the golden shoes I bought from my first allowance savings, and the package designs I photograph with my phone. Like well-designed data visualization, and carefully crafted infographics. A pretty package around the science, with a clear narrative, helps me understand and remember. That may just one of the things we need to make science more appealing for a wider audience.

A pretty package around the science, with a clear narrative, helps me understand and remember.

But then, the questions arise: what makes a well-designed visual? And how does one attain a visual that clearly communicates the intended message? That is what I wanted to learn when I applied for an internship position, here at The Online Scientist. And after a few months of attending workshops by Liesbeth and Stephan and making my own designs, I have learned a thing or two seven:

  1. We are all trying to get everyone’s limited attention
  2. A good design starts with a good story
  3. Form only follows function, however tempting form may be
  4. Design with diversity and inclusion in mind
  5. A good science communication product requires communication, and time, and communication
  6. With time you can learn anything, but time is valuable
  7. Dare to be the expert

Read my final report here to find out how I learned these lessons and how I applied them, both in the aspects of the content and design, as well as the process to getting there. Perhaps, you may be able to apply some of these seven lessons to your own scientific endeavors and/or communication efforts!

Floor Baas is graduating as a MSc student of Biomedical Sciences and has a great interest in how science communication can help research reach its potential. During her studies, she has come across many examples of posters, graphical abstracts and presentations, of which some could have benefited from an upgrade. As an intern at The Online Scientist, she’s gained experience in how to help scientists bring across their message to their audience.

About the Author: Liesbeth Smit

Liesbeth combines her knowledge of science communication, technology and design to explain difficult topics to a wide audience. You can use her practical tips immediately in your (poster) presentations to create a bigger impact. She developed dozens of websites, infographics and animated videos, and regularly gives workshops about design at The Online Scientist.

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