5 Tips on Communicating Your Research Effectively

By Crystal Hua |

One valuable skill to acquire during graduate studies is effective communication of your research to audiences within and outside your field of study. There are many instances in your graduate school experience when effective communication will be important such as presentations (PowerPoint, poster, oral), grant writing, and general communications with peers/colleagues.

[Image Description: Kris Jenner looks at the camera and states "It's all about communication."]

Pictured: Communication is a key skill in grad school and beyond!

These tips will help you communicate your work clearly while conveying the significance and relevance of your research.

1. Reduce Jargon

In general talks with diverse audiences and grant applications where you have reviewers from other fields scoring your work, jargon can stand in the way of presenting your work clearly. Some field specific terms are okay to use, when necessary, but be sure to define these terms early on and keep written abbreviations to a minimum in your materials.

2. State the Purpose of Your Research Early

It is important to let your audience know early on what the purpose of your research is. This helps define the direction of your work and to keep your audience engaged. A research project that is unfocused or does not have a clear purpose may not be engaging and can lose the attention and focus of the audience. 

3. Communicate Your Research with Clarity and Focus

It is important to communicate your work clearly and with focus. Most people viewing or reading about your work will be doing it for the first time. If you don’t break it down for them to understand in clear chunks, they can easily become lost. Have a clear pattern and logical progression of ideas to your talk or writing and present it to different people to see if they understand your logic and flow. Not sure where you can get feedback? Try making an appointment at the Graduate Writing Center!

4. Highlight the Relevance of Your Research

One important point that will be of interest to your audience is the novelty and/or relevancy of your work. For example, if you are trying to develop assistive technology to help patients, it is important to know what’s already been done to either improve on the existing technology or develop something entirely new. Also, it is important to let the audience know that your work is relevant with the times. Can you find some current issues where your research fits in? For instance, research looking at therapies for respiratory illnesses are important, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be important to communicate this to audiences to show how a research project takes into account how the work can benefit COVID patients, for example.

5. Make the Impact of Your Work Clear

In all research, it’s important to communicate the impact of your work. Scholarly research is valuable in many facets of everyday life—whether it involves creating new vaccines to reduce illness severity or public policy research that leads to enhancements in regulatory practices, it is critical to convey how your work will help improve society, etc. Emphasizing the impact of your research will keep audiences engaged and is a critical component of funding applications.

Keep these tips in mind for effective communication of your research! To learn more about effective communication, check out the Graduate Writing Center’s resource page