Most scientists would agree that a high standard of written English is vital for scientific communication. However, we have an increasing responsibility to report findings to a wider audience. Indeed, many funding bodies seem to rank activities for the "public understanding of science" as highly as traditional scientific reporting. With this in mind, scientists should strive to improve their skills of communication not only with the scientific community but also with the nonscientific community. Furthering these skills would encompass the use of plainly written English uncluttered with jargon, as well as the ability to speak clearly and simply at public science events and in the media. A colleague suggested to me recently that if you cannot explain your scientific findings or the theoretical basis of your work in a fashion understandable to an 11-year-old, then you probably do not understand them yourself. Scientists find themselves in ivory towers less often in the modern world, and the public has increasing demands for information and communication. We must ensure that we are up to the job.
Adam G. Hart, PhD
Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects
University of Sheffield, UK