Effective Research Communication for non-academic audiences


Communication Skills

Target group

Members of the Doctoral School of Natural Sciences
Members of the Doctoral School of (Bioscience) Engineering

Topic of the course

The workshop addresses the question: "How do I communicate my doctoral research to different non-academic audiences?”.

Effective research communication has become increasingly important for young researchers as many take their research and skills into non-academic settings or seek to engage non-academic stakeholders in their research findings as they progress their academic careers. In both instances, understanding how to pitch your research in an engaging and understandable way is critical to success. With the right information, presented in an understandable way, innovative research produced by young researchers can consciously shape decision-making processes in a range of non-academic settings, from government and business to the individual level.  Research Communication is a key skill that we should support our young researchers in developing early on so as to maximise the impact of their research for society.

The impact of Research Communication goes further than just explaining it, it’s about building bridges between research and the public. It’s about creating a mutual engagement. It’s about having a conversation. By bridging the gap between researchers and the public, by making scientific research part of public and not just academic discourse, they can inform one another. Research impact requires active engagement from researchers with the public. The process of science communication, and the way it facilitates a joint understanding of scientific topics, is the cornerstone to any effort to tackling those issues we face collectively as a society.


  • Attendees will learn how to communicate their research to non-academic stakeholders and will gain an understanding of how to tailor their communication for specific non-academic audiences in different sectors.
  • Attendees will dig into the ways in which you can tailor your communications to different audiences by consulting specialised guidance and putting that guidance into practice in relation to their own research.
  • All attendees taking part in the full course will produce personalised communication pieces relating to their doctoral research and will work with faculties to put those ready-to-use communications to use.
  • Attendees will be able to add a well-rehearsed and well-developed non-academic publication to their CV as a best-in-class example of science communication.


Part 1: Professionals representing different non-academic stakeholders (broadcasting, government and business) will provide advice on the best ways to get their attention. The course will be rounded off with an example of a successful case. We won’t cap the number of participants for this part of the course to maximise its reach and provide an as broad as possible opportunity for young researchers to hear from these different stakeholders.

Part 2: 15 PhD students from the 3 beta faculties will then be given the opportunity to put science communication into practice as they can take part in a guided preparation of their own communication. They will have to make a draft according to the guidance documents and their target audience. The draft will be reviewed by communication and language experts and, following improvement, will then be forwarded to Prof Iain Stewart (honorary PhD for his science communication, see separate hot topic lecture application) for personalised final comments.

Part 3: The faculties will work with the PhD candidates to put their communications pieces to use in publications.

Tentative programme:

Workshop kick-off on March 8, 2022, 15:00.

Preparation, review, and publication of the communications: March-April 2022

Should COVID measures make it impossible to organise this workshop on campus, the necessary preparations have been made in order to switch to an entirely digital format.


  • Iain Stewart, El Hassan Research Chair for Sustainability, UNESCO Chair in Geoscience and Society, Professor of Geoscience Communication, Sustainable Earth Institute, University of Plymouth, UK

Iain Stewart is a Scottish geoscientist, Professor Geoscience Communication, and also a member of the Scientific Board of UNESCO's International Geoscience Programme. Described as the geology's "rock star", Stewart is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC, notably the BAFTA nominated ‘Earth: The Power of the Planet’. He is also recognized for his outstanding career with an honorary doctorate of Ghent University. During the workshop, Prof Stewart will demonstrate how to wrap up your scientific research to make it attractive for broadcasting.

  • Patricia De Clercq, Head of Division at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at the Flemish government

The study service of the government builds up knowledge derived from universities and other research organizations to advise policy makers in area’s such as agriculture, environment, spatial planning (agro-biodiversity, food printing), innovative themes (crowdfunding, insect breeding,..), entrepreneurship and profitability. During the workshop you will receive advise on how to bring your research to the attention of governmental study services. 

  • Filip Arnaut, R&D Director at Puratos, an international group offering a full range of innovative products, raw materials and application expertise to the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors.

At Puratos, innovation is supported by 1000 R&D researchers and technical advisors. Filip Arnaut showcases with the Mission to Mars program how the combination of scientific research and storytelling leads to impact, advanced networking and collaboration.

  •  Marie-Leen Verdonck

Marie-Leen is a young researcher who recently successfully defended her PhD at FBE. She is well known in the media as the expert for urban heat islands and how to mitigate the effects. Marie-Leen will share her experiences and some tips and tricks.



Registration fee

Free of charge for the members of the Doctoral Schools. The no show policy applies.



Number of participants

On campus: 20
Online: unlimited

Teaching methods

  • Presentations by external stakeholders followed by Q&A (2h)
  • Homework for participants of Part II (4h)
  • Written and oral review of draft communications (1h)
  • Homework to prepare a final draft (4h)
  • Oral review of the final drafts (1h)
  • Guidance in publication (2h)

Teaching material

  • Videos
  • Guidance documents

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

Preparation of a communication appropriate to a chosen non-academic target audience.