Communicating Research to the General Public


WISL is pleased to continue its program encouraging doctoral candidates in the sciences and engineering to include in their dissertations a chapter that describes their research to a general audience. The goal of the program is to foster in researchers a commitment to communicating the significance of their work and their enthusiasm for it to an audience beyond their fellow researchers. WISL hopes that by starting this communication early, during graduate education, scientists will develop both an attentiveness toward how their work fits into a wider social context and the skills needed to convey this to non-scientists.

WISL is offering several types of assistance to degree candidates in order to facilitate the creation of such chapters. Included in this assistance is a set of guidelines on how to create a work that communicates technical information to non-specialists. Included are excerpts from several chapters that have already been completed, and these excerpts show the wide range of styles and formats such a chapter may take. In addition, WISL is offering the assistance of a science journalist to help degree candidates hone their chapters. As an incentive, WISL is also offering a cash award of $250 for each completed chapter submitted to it by UW-Madison doctoral students.


In order to participate in this program, individual degree candidates should:

  • Indicate to WISL their intention to create a chapter for non-specialists before they begin working on it. Do this by sending an email to as soon as possible, and no later than two months prior to thesis defense.
  • Indicate the time frame during which the chapter will be completed.
  • Before beginning an outline or first draft, review the guidelines and samples posted HERE.
  • Submit a draft version for review by the WISL director and the editor about four weeks before the dissertation is to be completed.
  • After review and commentary by the editor, complete and submit a finalized version.

    WISL looks forward to helping dissertators communicate their work
    to a general audience and will make the chapters available widely.