About Our Science Storytelling Certificate
Or, all hail the pink checkmark
You may have noticed something unique on Massive’s website: pink checkmarks next to select writers’ names. When you see this mark, it means they are a Certified Science Storyteller.
Earning this certificate means that the author has demonstrated a consistent ability to tell accessible, meaningful and entertaining stories about science to public audiences by completing initial training and having at least two articles accepted for publication on MassiveSci.com or partner sites.
Publishing an article on Massive and our partners means the writer has created a piece that passes the high editorial bar for a professional media outlet, at least twice. Passing that bar requires an ability to identify a meaningful science story, pitch it to professional editors, write the story itself, and receive and respond to editorial and peer feedback.
We’ve spent much of the last year helping hundreds of scientists clear that bar by piloting our unique online storytelling training. Using comprehensive pre-, during, and post-training surveys, we found that becoming proficient in communication requires more than just instruction: it requires consistent practice and feedback from professionals.
In fact, after publishing just one article, we found that trainees’ self-reported confidence as both a scientist and a communicator decreased below the pre-training baseline. This dip makes sense: applying new skills for the first time in a real-world setting is a difficult task.
However, after writing and publishing a second article, self-reported confidence as a communicator went up 27 percentage points on average, and even self-reported confidence as a scientist increased 9 percentage points. We need to do more work to understand why this boost occurs, but we’ve heard from trainees that learning to tell stories about science helps them with their academic work, too. Members say that they write better papers and grant proposals, and give better lab presentations, poster sessions, and talks after training and certification.
Certification doesn’t just speak to learned skills. The majority of writers who publish twice go on to publish a third or fourth article within the year, meaning that earning our certification is predictive of further skill development. Although we still need to do some work looking at the correlation between certification and traffic data, our early explorations indicate (unsurprisingly) that stories by certified writers perform better — measured both by the raw amount of traffic they get, and by the feedback we receive via our chat-bot survey tool.
Now you know what these checkmarks mean. If you’re a STEM researcher interested in becoming certified, take a look at our Consortium, which offers training, certification, and a year of scicomm support.