Since the 1980s, the Dana Foundation has actively promoted and participated in communicating science to the lay public. Helping to lead those efforts was Jane Nevins, Dana Press editor-in-chief emerita, who edited scientist-written publications and books for nearly twenty-five years, tackling topics such as deep brain stimulation, mental illness, and stroke.
In her final year with the foundation, Nevins compiled her best practices into a handy reference book for scientists writing for the lay public, You’ve Got Some Explaining to do: Advice for Neuroscientists Writing for Lay Readers. The book is available for sale at Amazon for $2.99 or as a free PDF on our website.
From the chapter “What Readers Want”:
You want to write something for a particular reason, and your reader wants to read it for the same reason. It’s not about all the science you know, but about the science that fits your and the reader’s attraction to the story. Believe this, and it will lighten your task by orders of magnitude, because you can focus on choosing the appropriate scientific content and making it clear and interesting.
Nevins also took the time to speak with us recently for an author Q&A, delving into topics she discusses in the book, such as the differences between writing for the lay public versus scientist peers, how identifying the reader helps plot one’s narrative course, and why the book extends to writers beyond those in the neuroscience community. Read the interview here.
–Ann L. Whitman