A Graduate Student Research Communication Initiative in CBS
What is SCRIBE?
SCRIBE provides an opportunity for graduate students in CBS to gain paid experience in translating research results for a non-specialist audience, and to further develop their professional skills through hands-on experience in a real-life work setting. At the same time, students make a significant contribution to the communication and outreach goals of the College through the creation of content. The initiative is similar to the University’s SPARK program for undergraduates.
Since it was first launched in 2017, the CBS SCRIBE program has recruited over 50 graduate students to write concise (500-700 word) articles summarizing and translating research publications coming out of the College. These articles are written in plain and accessible language for broad audiences, and amplified by the College through various communication platforms.
We invite you to read our SCRIBE Research Highlights.
The CBS Manager of Research and Graduate Studies (CRM) serves as program coordinator and, in collaboration with CBS Research and Graduate Officer, edits and provides feedback to writers.
SCRIBE has been approved for the PCDR!
Our SCRIBE program is now part of the Professional and Career Development Record (PCDR) at the University of Guelph. The PCDR is a tool built into Experience Guelph that formally recognizes a student’s involvement in on- and off- campus professional and career development activities, most notably experiential learning. Participation in the PCDR is voluntary, so not all SCRIBE writers will pursue a PCDR badge. Requirements to obtain a PCDR badge include attending all SCRIBE training sessions and mid-point check in, writing three stories, and completing a final self-assessment and reflection piece. SCRIBE writers who successfully complete these requirements are awarded an online badge that can be associated to their LinkedIn account and that describes their roles and accomplishments as SCRIBE writers.
How does SCRIBE work?
The following paragraphs describe, in detail, the step-by-step process to get involved with SCRIBE.
1. Apply: Student writers are “recruited” via a general call for interest across the college once per year (usually each fall). Generally, the program accepts up to of 20 new writers per year. Preference is given to students who will be in their program for at least one additional year. At the time of application, students must provide a general writing sample that is used to ensure that selected writers meet a minimum standard in terms of general writing ability (e.g., grammar, spelling, sentence structure). Students also indicate if they would like to pursue a PCDR badge or not (this is not mandatory, but we recommend it!) Selected students are then invited to participate in the program.
2. Get trained: Selected students engage in a two training session. The format of this training has been online or hybrid since the pandemic, but now it's back in person. The training consists of 2 two-hour workshops led by communications experts or professional science journalists. The goals of the training session are to articulate why science communication is critical to research, assimilate and apply the inverted pyramid model style of writing, facilitate an interview with a researcher, and identify and implement general tips and tricks for communicating science. New writers also have the opportunity to chat with a more senior SCRIBE writer.
3. Select an article: Once students have completed the training, they are free to sign up to write about new articles of interest published by CBS faculty. Each week, the CRM selects and posts new journal articles (based on Web of Science alerts) on a shared site (OneDrive) that can be accessed by all writers in the program. Students can “sign up” for the articles they wish to write about. Writers may also choose to write about new or upcoming publications from their lab that is not yet available in the Web of Science database.
4. Write your piece: Once a student has signed up for an article, they then have approximately 2 weeks to interview the faculty member or graduate student lead author and submit a draft to the CRM. The CRM will review and edit the article as necessary to ensure quality and a reasonable level of consistency and provide the writer with feedback. Once there is agreement and a near final draft, the student is responsible for sending the draft to the faculty member/grad student author to review and give final approval.
5. Spread the word: Approved stories are posted on the CBS website and shared via social media. Selected stories may also be featured in the CBS Research Insights magazine.
6. Get paid: Students will be paid once a semester for all stories that have been completed and submitted during that period. Students receive $75 per article. CRM tracks the number of articles completed per student and liaises with the College Finance Manager to arrange these payments, which will be charged to the Dean’s Office.
NOTE: SCRIBE writers who work towards a PCDR badge are required to write three stories within a year and complete a self-assessment and reflection piece at the end of the experience; however, SCRIBE writers who do not pursue a PCDR do not have any minimum requirements other than attending training.