By Karl Payne, Writing Studio Consultant
For many students from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, writing can be challenging. “We’re STEM majors, so what’s the importance of being able to write well?” is one of the sentiments expressed by undergraduate STEM majors. It’s somewhat surprising that students sometimes undervalue the importance of the role effective communication skills play in their disciplines. From a biotech start-up to academia, interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving are becoming more common. This will require STEM students to communicate with audiences across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
Beyond being able to communicate effectively, some of the same problem-solving skills required to tackle complex problems in science and engineering are required for writing. The scientific method requires skills such as modeling, synthesis, and abstraction. For example, in science, abstraction is required for taking a complex process and reducing it to the most salient characteristics. In writing, an analogous process is necessary for expressing an idea that requires a balance between being concise, and providing enough details for the reader to understand the main concept being conveyed.
Now that social media is playing a more prominent role in disseminating scientific findings, communicating in an exciting and engaging way has become increasingly important. As the general public learns more about scientific discoveries and technological advancements from social media, clear and accessible writing will be a necessary skill. Through frequent writing practice and applying the same methodological approach as with science assignments, writing will become a less frustrating process for STEM majors.
Scientific American agrees that effective communication yields better science.