BIG Chat talk 2018

Address for this page is

Shortened address is
(here’s why I shorten URLs for talks).

On Wednesday 17th January 2018 I gave a talk at the British Interactive Group (BIG)’s Little Event on science communication jobs, at Birmingham’s Think Tank.

Screenshot 2018-01-17 18.38.09

Above (click the picture) are my talk slides (PDF for now until I’ve tidied up the speakers’ notes!). More to come! Slide transcript-y bits are in green below.

Topic headings below follow the outline of my talk, with extra bits to be added under new headings. Everyone is welcome to offer suggestions for inclusion.

Speaking of inclusion, here’s an interesting article on people from communities that tend not to go to science museums and don’t feel that that sort of thing is for them: Reimagining publics and (non)participation: Exploring exclusion from science communication through the experiences of low-income, minority ethnic groups (2018), see also a blog post about this Challenging social exclusion in science communication (2018).

Section Zero (yup)

Where science communicators work

When I started out in science communication I didn’t know about the variety of jobs that could be done and learned about this by collecting a massive list of vacancies pages from scientific organisations (in London, where I live). That lives at the first link below and is very London-heavy (see the red arrow pointing to 180. Outside London, other countries. I have been trying to expand this to include other cities and countries and have developed the second link, which is an editable Google Document – feel free to add a vacancies page if you know of one. Obviously all the mailing lists and resources in Section Four will also advertise jobs, but not all jobs will be posted there. You must be proactive!!

Screenshot 2018-01-17 18.42.33
Original blog post ” Where London science communicators might work” mentioned in the talk (London heavy) – this is a massive list of collected vacancies pages from various scientific organisations with offices in London, it has expanded beyond London too. I am keen to hear of people who’ve done similar for their own cities / territories.
Publicly editable Google Spreadsheet of scicomm vacancies pages around the world – please add more. I created this from the list above and made it open-edit.
Science communication in the United Kingdom (Wikiversity) – quite good for an overview of the field, who’s who (organisationally), what’s what.

Screenshot 2018-01-18 21.20.04

Section One

What do I mean by #scicomm and PE?
Below is a slide from my talk, the original has animations with things pinging up and I hopefully explain them. This is an oversimplification and just what I understand these terms to mean.

Screenshot 2018-01-17 18.25.54

Science is done in some research-doing organisation. Many things then happen one of which might be academic publishing (black). Along the way (green leading off black arrow) preliminary results might be published in ‘public media’ and once research is completed there might be further press releases and more publication. That can be pretty much it – a one way ‘science done’ to ‘science published’. People enjoy hearing about new scientific discoveries… some may want to get more closely involved (lower pink arrow). Public can get involved in process of research (orange arrow pointing to black arrow – eg taking part in clincal trials). Another output of research and its publication (upper pink arrow) is the decisions made about future research, public can get involved in those decisions too (lobbying, or as a lay member of a research committee). Twirly black arrow at far left is indicating scientists reaching out to the public and inviting them to get involved and even co-create, an example of which might be Citizen Science. The terms science communication and public engagement cover all stages of this diagram but I tend to refer to #scicomm as the stuff on the right hand side of the picture (communicating science already done) and public engagement as the stuff on the left (engaging the public with science / research). But I may be wrong 🙂 After all going and giving a talk about science is obviously engaging them with science.

I also quite enjoy this science flowchart 😉

Briefly mentioned in my talk
Citizen science
New free online course from UCL: Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing

Julie’s thread is about scientists who communicate science and she points out that not every scientist is supported to do scicomm, or to do it well and some don’t really enjoy doing it and shouldn’t be pressured.

Section Two

Building a portfolio
On the origin of science writers (2010) Ed Yong’s piece on how people became science writers. He created a blog post and asked science writers to add their story in the comments.
How to be a science presenter (2011) a post I wrote for this blog after attending an event at Cheltenham Science Festival. Apparently BBC producers keep an eye on YouTube (or did in 2011) to find talent…

Section Three

Screenshot 2018-01-18 21.15.37.png

Finding opportunities – horizon scanning

• BIG-Chat mailing list
• psci-com mailing list
ABSW – Association of British Science Writers
Stempra – mailing list for people working in STEM comms / PR.
• NCCPE – National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement – “Funded by the four UK Funding Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust the NCCPE helps inspire and support universities to engage with the public. The Centre is hosted between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.”
Getting into science communication (2015) – from Leeds University careers
• Oxford Uni’s Careers Advice for scientists – Alternatives to R&D
How museum work can combine research and public engagement (2017)
Curation jobs are an ideal opportunity to showcase skills in collation and animation.

Entry-level job at the Royal Society (paid internship, London Living Wage): Public Engagement Intern, closes 2 Feb 2018.

Paid internships (month long, London Living Wage) at the Science Media Centre, call will go out in May 2018.

Suggstion: given that both these internships mention the words science, communication, living wage and intern/s/hip on the webpage about this this suggests that other jobs would too. When I was creating my Great List of Vacancies Pages I used that logic and applied that sort of search term strategy to uncover ‘more of the same’, so I’d suggest sticking similar search into your favourite search engine. Add your city too (you can force Google to return only pages that do contain a word with +Birmingham, for example, and you can get pages saying “science communication” with quotes around the phrase, as opposed to pages where science happens to appear on the same page as the word communication, but where it might not be about scicomm.

Section Four

Screenshot 2018-01-18 21.16.52

Qualifications: what do they offer?
Getting a PhD to become a science writer (2012) – Scicurious post on not needing a PhD to be a science writer, following some discussion from someone who suggested that they might do a PhD for that purpose.
Sheffield MSc Science Communication alumnae – what did they do next? A selection of people who’ve done the course and the jobs they went on to do.

Didn’t include in the talk but…
Scicomm and public engagement journals
• Journal of Science Communication – JCOM (currently doing a call for papers on user experience of digital technologies in citizen science, and have a series of essays on universities and science communication).
Public Understanding of Science (PUS)

Section Five

Screenshot 2018-01-18 21.18.19

Applying for jobs
How to write a CV without work experience (Guardian Careers)
Some general thoughts on filling in job applications (2011) – post by me
Freelance fees guide from London Freelance
Freelance rates from National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Freelance word rates – from Scott Carney
ABSW’s Reading Room – you can see the list of topics but you’ll need to be a member (discounted for students) to view items. This is aimed at science writers / journalists.

Really helpful thread from Peter Matthews below. It’s aimed at Early Career Researchers (people with a PhD who are getting post-doctoral positions at research institutions, usually universities) but the info is widely applicable.

Section Six

Notes to employers

/jobs –
Make it easy for visitors to your website to find where you’ve hidden your vacancies page. Do you call it jobs, recruitment, careers, opportunities? Have you hidden it in ‘About us’ or similar (good) or left it languishing in your website’s hinterland (bad)?
How can I/we persuade employers to set up a /jobs redirect from their homepage? (2017) – tips on creating a page redirect from another of my blogs.
An earlier post on /jobs and the thinking behind getting companies to point (their website)/jobs to wherever they’re hiding their vacancies page.

More to come here!

Section Seven

Language – not in talk

Section Eight

Stuff that doesn’t fit into the headings above…

Working abroad
• British Council – in previous years the British Council has hosted science communication internships with people on them travelling abroad. I’m trying to find out some more about this, but this page is from 2015.

Section Nine

Further reading

A changing sector: where is science communication now? – British Science Association’s survey of scicomm people whether ‘scientist communicators’ or ‘science communicators’.



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[Job, London] NDCS, Media Relations Officer, £27-32k, clos 13 Nov #scicomm

Screenshot 2017-11-11 21.40.55.png
NDCS – National Deaf Children’s Society

Media Relations Officer
£27,575 – £32,218 per annum, 35 hours per week, permanent, London
Closing 13 November 2017

Uploaded job description: Media_Relations_Officer_JD_October_2017

“Are you passionate about the power of the media to help create change? We are looking for someone with a sound knowledge of PR principles and practices to help us raise awareness of childhood deafness, drive forward our campaigns and motivate the public to support us.

You will work with a range of diverse teams across the charity to deliver integrated media and PR projects to a wide range of print, broadcast and digital media outlets. Your excellent communication skills, together with the ability to liaise with internal and external contacts, will make you an invaluable part of our Media team. This is an exciting and diverse role and will suit someone who enjoys working both independently and as part of a wider communications department.

Ideally you will have experience working within a charity environment but we are open to applications from candidates with agency or other relevant experience.”

Posted in £25k to £30k, £30k to £35k, comms, health / medical, jobs, press office, scicomm, science communication | Tagged | Leave a comment

[Job, London] AMRC, Policy Officer, £25k clos 22 Mar #scicomm #scicommjobs

AMRC (Association of Medical Research Charities)

Policy Officer
£25k, clos 22 March 2017

permalink for job description: policy_officer_2017

Copy of text of job description and person specification.

Policy officer
Salary: £25,000 pa inclusive of location allowance
Central London, WC1
Closing date: 22 March 2017
Interviews: 29 March – 5 April 2017
Anticipated start date: April/May 2015 [I think they mean 2017!]

About the role
This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a small but highly-influential policy and public affairs team at the heart of the medical research community. You will work with other members of the team and engage with our member charities to develop and communicate AMRC policy.

About you
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential. You will be highly-organised, educated to degree level with ability for grasping and communicating complex issues. You’ll need to be self disciplined, adaptable and able to thrive in a busy environment with lots of challenges and tight deadlines. Experience and understanding of the role of medical research charities and the biomedical research environment in the UK are desirable, but not essential.

This job may suit someone with experience of working in a science; biomedical research or health policy environment, looking to rapidly develop their skills and experience and gain greater exposure to the medical research community.

About AMRC
The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) is the national membership organisation for the health and medical research charity world, influencing the policy and research environments by harnessing the collective strengths of our members, to demonstrate the sector’s positive impact on health and wellbeing.

We work with a range of opinion formers in the government, industry and academia, to ensure the best possible environment for health and medical research charities in the UK, so patients benefit from the fruits of research.

How to apply
Please send your CV and a covering letter, explaining what makes you a strong candidate for this role, to Nisha Tailor at If you have any questions about the role or wish to have an informal conversation, please contact Nisha.

Policy officer
Reporting to: Head of Policy and Public Affairs
Responsible for: Liaising with AMRC members and partners to monitor developments in the medical research sector, developing policy that reflects the views and needs of our sector, and working with team members to effectively communicate AMRC policy to stakeholders.

Overall objectives:

  • Develop and amplify the medical research charity sector’s voice in policy development to improve the research environment to help charities fund the best research.
  • Support AMRC member charities to interpret and respond to policy developments.
  • Develop AMRC’s policy positions based on evidence and reflecting member perspectives.
  • Deliver the relevant strategic and operational parts of the AMRC plans, including supporting public affairs activities to increase AMRC policy impact.


  • AMRC is a small team and good communication between all team members is essential to working productively.
  • Stakeholders – build up relationships with policy and public affairs teams at our member charities, related
    organisations and civil service.

Key responsibilities

  • Support the head of policy and public affairs to develop policy positions.
  • Respond quickly and efficiently to enquiries.
  • Respond to consultations on behalf of AMRC.
  • Build relationships with policy and public affairs teams among the AMRC membership and work with the head of policy and public affairs to share information and provide any tailored support required through AMRC’s policy networks including the public affairs working group (PAWG).
  • Support the head of policy and public affairs in meetings with key individuals to promote AMRC’s policy and public affairs work at a devolved, UK and EU level.
  • Conduct policy, political and media monitoring for the AMRC team.
  • Work with the AMRC team to identify data and develop case studies to support AMRC policy and media work.
  • Work with the AMRC team to draft briefings and copy for AMRC’s website and blog on policy issues.


  • Maintain customer relationship management (CRM) database and networks to support public affairs work.
  • Office administrative support and other duties as needed.



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[UK] Home-based citizen science jobs going with Parenting Science Gang #scicomm

Two jobs with Parenting Science Gang, from the Nappy Science Gang crew. Full details at

Project co-ordinator (full time)

Employment details

  • Full time (37.5 hours a week, with 28 days annual holiday)
  • For 23 months
  • Salary £22,750 pa


Live chat co-ordinator (freelance, 1 day a week)

Employment details

  • We estimate, based on the earlier project, that your duties will take no more than 1 day a week (roughly 8 hours, but this can be spread around the week. You will need to manage your own time and there might be more to do some weeks than others. You are free to do more work in some weeks than others, as long as it gets done.)
  • 92 weeks spread over 23 months (allowing for holidays)
  • Pay £80/week

Closing date for both roles is 5pm on Friday 10th March. We will shortlist and telephone interview in the week commencing 13th March. The jobs will ideally start on Monday 20th March.

To apply, email Sophia Collins with your CV and a SHORT covering email, telling me why you’d be great for the job and one mistake you’ve made in your life that you learned something from.

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[Job, London] NICE, Media Rel’ns Exec, £25.3-35.2k, clos 17 June

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 18.26.09  Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 18.27.03

Logos pinched from the relevant websites. They don’t endorse me pinching them or advertising their job or this site, but I like to add a bit of colour to these text-heavy pages 🙂

NICE: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
Media Relations Executive

Job Reference: 907-NICE297
Salary: £26,302 to £35,225 pa

Permanent copy of job description: NICE-ATR_JD-MEDIA_RELATIONS_EXEC-EA-623894-26052016

Closing Date: 17/06/2016
Interview Date: 24/06/2016
Contact Name: Margaret Hanson-Omani
Telephone: 020 7045 2178

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and advice on promoting high quality health, public health and social care.

Our role is to improve outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services. We do this by:

• Producing evidence-based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners.
• Developing quality standards and performance metrics for those providing and commissioning health, public health and social care services;
• Providing a range of information services for commissioners, practitioners and managers across the spectrum of health and social care.

Please note, if the advertised role is based in London and is on an Agenda for Change Pay Band, it will attract a High Cost Area Supplement. No other roles attract this supplement.


Media Relations Executive (design)
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Media Relations Executive (design) – Band 6 + HCAS
Based in London, permanent full-time position (37.5 hours)
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and advice on promoting high quality health, public health and social care.

Our role is to improve outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services. We do this by producing evidence-based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners; developing quality standards and performance metrics for those providing and commissioning health, public health and social care services and providing a range of information services for commissioners, practitioners and managers across the spectrum of health and social care.

The Communications Directorate is made up of a number of teams: media relations; external communications (which includes NICE website, events and exhibitions, public affairs and stakeholder relations); enquiry handling; internal communications; and publishing. Together they use a variety of channels to communicate with a wide range of audiences in the NHS and beyond. They contribute to the core work of producing guidance and other products through their roles in editing, production, distribution and promotion. And they help to protect and enhance the reputation of NICE through daily contact with the public, media, parliamentarians and other key groups.

The Media Relations team is responsible for promoting the work of NICE and protecting the organisation’s reputation. Working closely with other centres and directorates across NICE and with members of advisory committees and guidance development groups, the team provides advice, support and manages issues that are of interest to journalists, communicating clearly on a range of often complex and sensitive issues.

Job summary
The postholder will work cross-functionally and alongside colleagues working within the wider communications team. The Media Relations Executive (design) will play a key role in ensuring the effective delivery of NICE’s communications strategy with a particular focus on communicating the activities of NICE and its guidance to the media using innovative design and branding.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence offers a dynamic and friendly working environment where teamwork is highly valued.

* We offer a range of benefits including the NHS pension scheme and childcare voucher scheme
* We provide a thorough induction programme
* Personal development is supported through extensive training and development opportunities
* We promote flexible working to help staff achieve a healthy work life balance
* We value equality and diversity and welcomes applicants from all sections of the community
* We will interview all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria in line with the NHS Guaranteed Interview Scheme

Please make sure that you read the job description and person specification as your application will be shortlisted against these criteria.

Please provide full contact details for all referees within your application form including email addresses. Referees provided must include your current line manager and cover the last 3 years of your employment history.

We reserve the right to close any vacancies from further submissions when we have received sufficient applications from which to make a shortlist. Please ensure you apply without delay if you wish to be considered for this role.

Please note all contact is made via NHS Jobs in the first instance, please check your account regularly. If you are shortlisted for interview you will be required to provide proof of ID and the right to work in the UK. (Please refer to attached guidance documents for further details). Failure to bring the required proof will mean that we may be unable to proceed with your interview.

Posted in £30k to £35k, £35k to £40k, comms, health / medical, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

[Job, New York] NSLS II (Synchroton), Science Communicator #scicomm jobs

Not sure what the salary or closing date for this is.

Brookhaven National Laboratory: National Synchrotron Light Source II
Science Communicator
Job ID: 697

Apply at the link above.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is a multipurpose research institution funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Located on the center of Long Island, New York, Brookhaven Lab brings world-class facilities and expertise to the most exciting and important questions in basic and applied science—from the birth of our universe to the sustainable energy technology of tomorrow. We operate cutting-edge large-scale facilities for studies in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, applied science, and a wide range of advanced technologies. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 4,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Our award-winning history, including seven Nobel Prizes, stretches back to 1947, and we continue to unravel mysteries from the nanoscale to the cosmic scale, and everything in between. Brookhaven is operated and managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, which was founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.

Organizational Overview

Brookhaven National Laboratory is a nonprofit research and development institution whose purpose is to advance ideas and knowledge through a multidisciplinary program of basic and applied research.  The National Synchrotron Light Source II currently has a full-time opportunity for a Public Affairs Representative at the facility.

Position Description

Organization Overview:

Will be responsible for internal and user communications and outreach efforts at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility at Brookhaven Lab. NSLS-II is a new, large research facility that produces extremely bright beams of x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light used to examine a wide range of materials and accelerate advances in energy, environmental science, and medicine.  Candidate will report to the NSLS-II Director.

Position Description:       

  • Raise the profile of the National Synchrotron Light Source II and its mission, vision, capabilities, advances, and initiatives among key audiences, including potential visiting researchers, the synchrotron science community, internal stakeholders, and policy makers.
  • Communicate to key audiences about NSLS-II’s scientific advances, personnel, capabilities, news, and developments through the production of activity and progress reports, periodic newsletters, brochures, and promotional materials in electronic, web-based, and hard-copy formats;
  • Develop content for the NSLS-II website;
  • Work closely with the NSLS-II User Office to develop and distribute communications to the 4,000-plus visiting researchers who will conduct experiments at NSLS-II each year when it is fully operational.
  • Manage NSLS-II social media feeds targeted to inform scientific facility users about NSLS-II updates, news, and key deadlines
  • Participate in outreach efforts related to scientific meetings, special events and tours;
  • Work closely with the NSLS-II Director and User Office to coordinate all NSLS-II internal and user communications.
  • Serve as a liaison with the Media & Communications Office and assist in the development of news releases, feature stories, and other informational materials

Position Requirements

Required Knowledge Skills and Abilities:

  • Bachelor’s degree in journalism, science, or a related field.
  • Science-writing experience.
  • Experience in desktop publishing and web-based communications and outreach.
  • Demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships with a wide range of customers and colleagues, including scientists, university faculty, and administrators, and in interacting with a diverse community of scientific, professional, and technical personnel at all organizational levels is necessary.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.

Preferred Knowledge Skills and Abilities:

  • Graduate degree in journalism, science, or related field

At Brookhaven National Laboratory we believe that a comprehensive employee benefits program is an important and meaningful part of the compensation employees receive.  Our benefits program includes but is not limited to:

  • Medical Plans
  • Vacation
  • Holidays
  • Dental Plans
  • Life Insurance
  • Retirement Plan
  • 401(k) Plan
  • On-site Child Development Center, Swimming Pool, Weight room Tennis Courts, and many other employee perks and benefits.

We invite you to consider Brookhaven National Laboratory for employment. To be considered for this position, please apply online at BNL Careers and enter the job title into the Keyword Search.

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) is an equal opportunity employer committed to ensuring that all qualified applicants receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, status as a veteran, disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

BNL takes affirmative action in support of its policy and to advance in employment individuals who are minorities, women, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

*VEVRAA Federal Contractor

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[Job, London] Digital Science, Comms Ass’t (paid internship), £?, clos 20 June #scicommjobs

It’s a day of paid internships (the best kind). Have a look at the previous post for another one and also for information about the UK Gov’s portal for paid internships for graduates.

Digital Science
Communications Assistant (Paid Internship)

Purpose of the role: 

  • To support the Digital Science Marketing and Communications team in a range of duties, including: social media, blogging, press releases, at events and conferences and other for ad hoc marketing duties.

Key tasks:

  • Day-to-day posting and updating of social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn
  • Working with the Community Manger to help with the social media strategy and online thought-leadership
  • Working with the Community Manager to help create and deliver content across all our communications channels, in line with Digital Science’s strategy and vision
  • Recruiting and identifying bloggers for the Digital Science blog & portfolio blogs
  • Posting and updating content on the Digital Science website
  • Helping to collect and display media coverage for Digital Science and our portfolio companies
  • Testing out new tools and technologies that could help to increase our efficiency online
  • Helping to support the training of Digital Science and portfolio company staff on social media and press
  • Answering and delegating enquiries from media, individuals and other organizations
  • Coordinating logistics for media and press opportunities
  • Responding to customer inquiries as needed
  • Helping with the filming and organization of the internal Digital Science Speaker Series
  • Other ad hoc duties such as helping with press releases and attending events
  • Supporting the running of a proactive and reactive PR department for Digital Science, working closely with the portfolio companies
  • Assisting with the delivery of specific media campaigns in the UK and USA
  • Keeping abreast of the news agenda by monitoring a wide range of print and online media
  • Developing and maintaining our database of external stakeholders, including media relationships
  • Coordinating and administering communications tools that are coordinated centrally, e.g. PR Newswire, press cuttings, etc.

Key relationships:

  • Digital Science Community Manager
  • Digital Science Global Marketing Manager
  • Conference Marketing Manager
  • Press and Communications Director


  • A science-related degree
  • Laboratory experience preferable


  • Working knowledge of social media and associated tools
  • Writing, blogging and editing experience
  • Excellent writing and proofing skills are essential
  • Excellent organizational skills to effectively plan resources and timescales
  • Ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines


  • Science communications
  • Marketing experience is preferable

Deadline: 20th June

Please send a covering letter and a CV to

(There’s a big red button at the bottom of the page [linked above], clicking on it opens a new email message to the email address given).

Posted in comms, internship - paid, public relations, science communication, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment