METM10 presentation     Thread: Promising practices

“Know thy audiences”: teaching a marketing approach to scientists to improve their research communication

A. Chapin Rodrí­guez – Zagreb, Croatia

Background: Scientists who work with English-language experts to revise their work often feel that poor grammar or style are the main reasons their work is rejected from international journals. They believe that, if only they can explain the details of their work clearly, their audience will see its importance. For many of these scientists, however, the major obstacle to publishing is that they fail to take into account that the referees and readers of their target journal increasingly come from a diversity of disciplines, with different perspectives and different jargons. As a result, scientists fail to convince the(se) audience(s) of the basis for their work, let alone its technical details.

Purpose: I will present recent evidence from bibliometric scholars and journal editorial boards attesting to the importance of preparing manuscripts with multiple audiences in mind. I will also present teaching strategies that I use to help scientists adopt a marketing approach to their work, permitting them to take better stock of their audiences and adjust the language and content of their communication accordingly.

Solutions and recommendations: I will present slides and describe exercises that I routinely use to help scientists from natural, clinical, and social sciences. These strategies are based on best practices from top research journals, and they can be used by any language coach, regardless of whether the coach has a research background or not. In addition to helping scientists adapt or supplement their jargon for their audiences, these strategies ensure that the work explains three things crucial for peer acceptance: (1) the importance of the overall research theme, (2) what specific knowledge gap the work aimed to fill within that theme, and (3) how the results fill that knowledge gap and lead us to the next one.


Dr A. Chapin Rodríguez (BSc, Duke University; PhD, Cambridge University) has published research in biochemistry, cell biology, and education in top-ranked journals. He conducts research with Chinese colleagues on undergraduate and post-graduate medical training there. He has helped more than 700 authors prepare manuscripts for submission to journals, and he works as a managing editor at Croatian Medical Journal. He has conducted training workshops for researchers at universities in Perú, Croatia, China, and Spain.