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The other day I was interacting with a group of graduate students of mass communication and media studies and certain questions posed by a few of them made me uncomfortable. I wish to share my experience with you all Samaritans. The questions which made me most uncomfortable in answering are as follows- What is deference in between science writing, popular science writing, science communication and science journalism? Is it not that science writing or popular science writing as it was addressed only a decade ago has now attained the terminologies/catch phrases like science communication, science journalism? Is this not the practice of putting old wine in new bottles? And then why not ‘science commentary’ as ‘Times of India’ branded one of its reputed science columnists as ‘science commentator’ recently? Friends, I any how answered these questions but neither I nor the students were satisfied. And that’s why the very questions are put before you experts for the amicable solution. Mike sir, are you also listening?

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Comment by Mohit Mishra on September 16, 2007 at 20:39
I think this is one of the problem with science writing, we tend to make things too technical and complicated. Science's alwasy been a difficult subject (thats why they ask for more marks to get science in school) and putting more words in science writing makes it more complicated i guess. Writing is a writing, if we treat science as a subject then these complexities will arise, I think science is need to be seen as interesting art, not a world of full of logics and farmulas, may be I am wrong, but thats the outsider I can give I guess. I am ready for critisism.
Comment by Dr.Arvind Mishra on August 19, 2007 at 3:09
Thanks Calestous,for your invigourating comments and bottom line advice.I fully endorse that.
Comment by Calestous Juma on August 18, 2007 at 14:33
Arvind: One some of my students asked me a similar question so I modified by curriculum that year and included a provision for writing an op-ed as part of the class. One of the best pieces came from a biology student who has since then moved on to become a corresponded for the Financial Times. There were other students who had actually worked as op-ed ghost writers and got vindicated on the importance of communication. It is easier for me to that from a school of public policy because communication is part of professional work. But my overall advice is: if you cannot define it; try doing it. Calestous
Comment by Dr.Arvind Mishra on July 30, 2007 at 4:26
Thank you very much Dr.Nautiyal for elaborating the concepts which shall make the understandings of the terms more clear and explicit.
Comment by Dr. Chandra Mohan Nautiyal on July 24, 2007 at 12:19
I had written something this morning but hasn't appeared so far. So again here. However, this is my opinion and I have not taken it from any published source so please don't accept it as gospel, though I have tried to be logical.

Science communication is the most general word which incorporates all forms through which science is communicated- written (story, sci. paper, poem, fiction ..), audio, audio- visual, performed, direct contact, web and so on. It also includes wriitng for research journals.

Science writing refers to the written form of communication and can include writing for being broadcast. If no script is prepared, it should come under spoken or broadcast rather than writing. It includes technical writing for research journals. So science writing includes wriitng for the laymen as well as experts.

Science journalism has less to do writing on science than writing about science. Science commentary comes under this. It includes policy matters and interfacing with society. This journalsim may be for print or other media.

Popular science writing refers to science wriitng for the laymen. Technical writing can't be for a large number of people while 'popular writing' is meant for more as, by definition, popularity is measured by numbers. Being for the common men, such writing has to be simple and attractive.

In USA, there is another term in vogue- Outreach activities but these refer to the writing or broadcasting for the common men with the aim of publicising one's work and is usually engaged in by institutions to generate public support which also influences funding from public sources.

I shall appraciate comments.

Comment by Dr.Arvind Mishra on July 20, 2007 at 13:50
Thanks Rina,don't you think sicence writing may be just an umbrella term covering all sorts of writing in S.T. domain including research papers,reviews and technical reports and even project writing [all un-or not so popular activities ] while pop sci writing though a specialization in itself is more appealing to a common man.
Am I wrong ?
Comment by Rina Mukherji on July 20, 2007 at 11:57
Arvind, science communication should ideally be considered to cover the entire gamut of all science-related writing. Science journalism, of course, is non-fictional writing on current issues related to science. About popular and (unpopular?) science writing, I am a little hazy. Mike could help me on that, perhaps!

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