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English Communication for Scientists

What information should you include in an abstract, and in what order? How can you get your message across in an oral presentation — with or without slides? How much text is acceptable on a poster? Communication is an integral part of the research you perform as a scientist and a crucial competence for a successful career, yet it is an activity you may not feel prepared for.

English Communication for Scientists is a brief guide on how to communicate more effectively in English, no matter how much previous experience you have. Although it was developed with non-native speakers of English in mind, it should prove useful for native speakers, too. Organized as six self-contained units, it will help you understand basic communication strategies and address various audiences (Unit 1); design and draft not only scientific papers (Unit 2) but also e-mail, résumés, and short reports (Unit 3); structure, support, and deliver oral presentations (Unit 4); create and present posters, chair sessions, and participate in panels (Unit 5); and prepare, run, and evaluate classroom sessions (Unit 6). Created by seasoned communicators, English Communication for Scientists provides no-nonsense, directly applicable guidelines, illustrated with examples of written documents, oral presentations, and more. Improving your scientific communication is only a click away: start today!

About the Authors


Dr. Jean-luc Doumont, the Series Editor and Lead Author of English Communication for Scientists, is an engineer from the Louvain School of Engineering and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. A world-acclaimed expert on scientific communication, Jean-luc has 20 years of experience running lectures and workshops on writing scientific papers, giving oral presentations, graphing data, and related topics in English, French, Dutch, and Spanish. His audiences include graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at top-notch universities around the world (including MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Caltech, and Harvard), scientists at public research centers (such as NIST, CDC, VIB, ICFO) and at private R&D centers (such as HHMI, Shell, Johnson & Johnson), attendees at international conferences (such as those  of SPIE and IEEE), and many more. Jean-luc is a founding partner at Principiæ, a lecturer with SPIE and OSA, and the author of Trees, maps, and theorems, a book on "effective communication for rational minds."



Unit 3 was authored by Dr. Laura Grossenbacher, Director of the Technical Communication Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Christina Matta, a lecturer in this program.

The wonderful illustrations are by Dr. Jorge Cham, the author of the comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper. His comic strip about life in academia has appeared in Nature, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others.


The Series Editor wishes to thank Laura Town and her team at WilliamsTown Communications for helping make this series a reality. He is also grateful to Marie Verbist and other graduates students at Universiteit Gent and to John Creemers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven for their willingness to be recorded on video and share the slides of their presentations.

Citation: Doumont, J., ed. English Communication for Scientists. Cambridge, MA: NPG Education, 2010.

Last Updated: January 17, 2014 

English Communication for Scientists


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