The Opinion article “Learning to speak and write” (Nature 411, 1; 2001) points out that scientists need to be taught how to communicate the results of their research effectively; in Correspondence, D. A. Watson and his colleagues and M. Attrill (Nature 411, 992; 2001) refer to courses where this is being done.

Young scientists who do not have English as their first language are keenly aware of a further obstacle: the need to acquire these skills in English. Without them, many are media-shy and feel handicapped in effectively communicating the full significance and scope of their work, even if they have good science-communication skills in their native languages.

The Internet is changing the pace and practice of disseminating scientific information (Nature 410, 1023–1025; 2001), but the basic skills of scientific writing are still indispensable. To induce more young scientists to improve their scientific writing skills, the success story of the team running the web-based Journal of Young Investigators as discussed in your News Feature (Nature 411, 13–14; 2001) must be repeated by others, launching similar affordable Internet journals in other languages. This will go a long way in building the younger generation's confidence and skills.

In the absence of any formal training in scientific writing, it takes weeks or more for scientists to prepare their first few manuscripts in English. Publication will often be further delayed when journal editors ask for manuscripts to be rewritten. In an era when speed of communication is vital, the global scientific community needs a freely accessible website that will help people learn science-communication skills through home study, and assist them in evaluating the level of proficiency they are acquiring.