Why crafting a clear narrative is vital, and how to deliver the most impactful research story

Narrative Tools for Researchers

Choose, develop and refine the compelling story your research deserves

The Importance of Narrative

As the oral and written traditions of every culture demonstrate, human beings are uniquely adapted to understand information that’s presented as a story. But connecting with an audience through a vibrant story is easier said than done — and when it comes to communicating research, often overlooked.  

Failing to craft a science story is a missed opportunity: Combining the power of narrative with the precision of science is instrumental to demonstrating expertise about a topic and building a reputation for excellence among an informed audience of peers.

Even researchers who excel at the scientific and administrative responsibilities of their work may find themselves challenged as storytellers. It’s one thing to do great science and another to tell a riveting tale about it.  But enhancing your researchers’ findings with strong, vivid narratives can unlock new potential for how it’s received, reviewed and shared.  

How narrative affects your science work

To realize that potential, Narrative Tools for Researchers is an online course from Nature Masterclasses designed to sharpen researchers’ communication skills — especially when engaging fellow researchers.  

It starts by extending researchers’ understanding and  perception of how storytelling can empower their work. It’s not simply making findings sound better with well-crafted sentences, and it’s not confined solely to describing research in a one-size-fits-all format. Instead, it’s the ability to communicate to a precise audience with clarity and a strong sense of purpose. 

Strengthening these skills supports researchers in all spheres of their work.

It helps them wade through massive clusters of information to find the most salient takeaways, and build a narrative structure around those key points that illuminate their importance.  

It’s seeing science — and not strictly people — as a leading character in the story; whether it’s a protein, a cell or a chemical reaction, the most interesting character may be invisible to the human eye. 

It’s fully integrating the idea that every communication must have a purpose, and understanding that improving narrative skills will impact a broad spectrum of science activities:

  • Grant-writing
  • Publishing
  • Applying for jobs
  • Networking 
  • Collaboration opportunities
  • Communicating with peers
  • Reputation building

Getting your story right

Nature Masterclasses’ Narrative Tools for Researchers course provides targeted skill-building techniques specifically tailored to help researchers meet the storytelling needs and demands of their work, in whatever field they specialize in.

The three-module course is designed to establish a foundational understanding of why telling a story matters, and how to build — and refine — your own story according to the exact purpose, delivery mode and audience it serves.  

For researchers, this knowledge base is especially valuable in communicating with peers: The complexity and precision of the information can overwhelm a project if not enough attention and thought are put into crafting a narrative perspective.  

The course confronts simple but crucial questions:  What is a story?  What elements go into making a good story? And why bother with a story when there is data that should be able to speak for itself? 

Researchers will gain insights about how to identify the specific message they want to convey, then apply narrative elements that will make that message manifest to colleagues and wider audiences. 

The course focuses on the technical aspects of building a story:

  • The elements of structure and how a story should be put together
  • Choosing the essential characters (your star protein!) and pinpointing how the arc of their story can be told
  • Assembling the pieces into a cohesive final package that contains a clear-cut message with dynamic characters propelled across a narrative arc 

The coursework is designed specifically for researchers, and applies traditional storytelling approaches to research communication by incorporating examples from researcher’s daily lives from a variety of fields in the natural sciences.  By  combining a firm grasp of foundational storytelling components with an understanding of how to adapt — and deliver — a science story honed for a specific purpose, audience and delivery mode, this workshop provides singular value to scientists seeking improved research communication.  

Researchers will finish the course equipped with essential storytelling skills that they can then apply to whatever their exact needs are in a given situation.  

Researchers are invaluable to the status and health of an institution. When choosing the tools that will enhance their reputation and influence, invest in their narrative skills. The more effectively a researcher communicates with peers and the public, the greater the influence and prestige of the institution they represent.  
Getting a researcher’s story right starts with strengthening their storytelling skills. Their stories — and your institution’s reputation — are worth it. 

Find out more about the course.

Request further information and a quote for your institution.