June 2012

Complementary skills: communication

How to introduce yourself

“Self-introductions should be short and conversational. Share something about yourself, then ask a question that invites the other person to join the conversation.” For more, listen to the entire podcast. 

Common eye-contact mistakes

“When making presentations eye contact is very important. In fact, your goal should be to maintain eye contact 90 percent of the time.” For more, listen to the entire podcast. 

Final thought

In Bob Grant’s article “Right Your Writing,” Judith A. Swan, who earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now teaches scientific writing at Princeton University, is quoted as having said, “Success in science takes as much skill with language as it does working in a laboratory.”

I encourage all of you to take note of Swan’s message and seek out every opportunity that you can to sharpen your communication skills. I also advocate for greater institutional responsibility – advisers should work closely with their students and postdocs to help improve their communication skills; graduate programs should require more scientific writing as part of the core curriculum courses; and trainees should be offered more opportunities to practice presentation skills.

Additional Resources 

  1. Wetanson, B. Why communication skills should matter to you. It’s the number one problem, say supervisors. (2011).
  2. Myatt, M. 10 communication secrets of great leaders. Forbes (2012).
  3. Grant, B. Right your writing. The Scientist (2009).
  4. Gopen, G.D. and Swan, J.A. The science of scientific writing. American Scientist. (1990).
  5. Olson, R. Top five tips for communicating science. New Scientist (2009).
  6. Cherry, K. Top 10 nonverbal communication tips. About.com (2010).
  7. Mott, M. Alternative careers for science PhDs part 1: science writing. PostDocsForum (2012).
  8. Forde, A. Scientists step into the classroom. Science Careers Magazine (2006).
  9. Webb, S. Working as a medical writer. Science Careers Magazine (2007).


Aruni S. Arachchige Don Aruni S. Arachchige Don (singamap@umdnj.edu) holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Iowa. She recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship and is now a technology transfer fellow at the Office of Technology Transfer & Business Development at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

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It is nice to have these communication skills before going to graduate school. Very nice article ......



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