A fleeting visit to Cambridge yesterday to run a workshop on ‘Writing Science’ for Cambridge Wordfest (Spring 2013 edition). Having some experience of offering guidance to scientists who want to improve how they write for general interest audiences, I was a bit nervous about a workshop that was open to the public – anyone, if they were willing to pay for the privilege, could come along. But in the end, most of those who came were from some sort of scientific background – working in research, scientific publishing or, alarmingly, science communication.
Of course, part of the draw was the attendance of Alok Jha, science correspondent for the Guardian. In fact, I’m sure two or three people were there solely to try and pitch ideas to him. But our schedule was already full to the brim with exercises and talks, including one from Penny Sarchet, one of the first winners of the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, which we were there to promote.
Indeed, we were knocked delightfully off-schedule by some great questions and discussion that followed the first exercise. It was so good that people came ready to speak up and question our assumptions as well as their own. I guess it is something of a truism to say that it is the participants who make a workshop successful or not, more than the people running it, but perhaps we can allow for there to be a great deal of input from both sides. Read the rest of this entry »