Improving together: better science writing through peer learning
- 1Uni Research Climate, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
- 2Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
- 3Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
- 4PMOD/WRC, Dorfstrasse 33, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
- 5Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
- 6Department of Meteorology and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
- 7Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Department of Environmental System Science, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
- 8School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
- 9Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, UK
- 10Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway
- 11Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
- * Invited contribution by M. A. Stiller-Reeve, recipient of the Outstanding Student Poster (OSP) Award 2014.
Abstract. Science, in our case the climate and geosciences, is increasingly interdisciplinary. Scientists must therefore communicate across disciplinary boundaries. For this communication to be successful, scientists must write clearly and concisely, yet the historically poor standard of scientific writing does not seem to be improving. Scientific writing must improve, and the key to long-term improvement lies with the early-career scientist (ECS). Many interventions exist for an ECS to improve their writing, like style guides and courses. However, momentum is often difficult to maintain after these interventions are completed. Continuity is key to improving writing.
This paper introduces the ClimateSnack project, which aims to motivate ECSs to develop and continue to improve their writing and communication skills. The project adopts a peer-learning framework where ECSs voluntarily form writing groups at different institutes around the world. The group members learn, discuss, and improve their writing skills together.
Several ClimateSnack writing groups have formed. This paper examines why some of the groups have flourished and others have dissolved. We identify the challenges involved in making a writing group successful and effective, notably the leadership of self-organized groups, and both individual and institutional time management. Within some of the groups, peer learning clearly offers a powerful tool to improve writing as well as bringing other benefits, including improved general communication skills and increased confidence.