Getting Past Jargon in Communication


"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Communication is not always easy, particularly once jargon starts. In 2011, Somerville and Hassol(1) published a list of terms that have different meanings for scientists and the public. AGU has built on that initial list as well. These lists are a good start for scientists who want to better communicate with the public, but it is not complete. It also doesn’t address the challenges that scientists can have when speaking to other scientists outside of their specific discipline.

This session is meant to introduce the concept behind a “science communication thesaurus” building upon the work of Somerville and Hassol. We envision this thesaurus to have multiple parts addressing communication challenges around specific terms both between domains and between scientists and the public. We welcome anecdotes of successful and unsuccessful communications as we work to improve how we convey our research to others.

(1) Somerville, R.C.J., and Hassol, S.J., 2011. Communicating the science of climate change, Physics Today, 64(10), p. 48-53. doi:10.1063/PT.3.1296

Hills, D.; Scott, S.; Getting Past Jargon in Communication; Winter Meeting 2017. ESIP Commons , October 2016