The People’s Science is the place for you to share your work and outreach efforts, connect with others, and discover new research. Here’s how to join the conversation.
AT A GLANCE
CREATE AN ENGAGING ACCOUNT.
The People’s Science is all about humanizing science. Make a “Researcher” account here, and fill out as much as you can. Show a little personality in your “Overview” and your profile picture. Give people a glimpse of the person behind the science.
CREATE A RESEARCH GROUP.
Many people don’t realize that researchers often conduct science in groups or labs. We’re pulling the curtain back on the scientific process by inviting the public to get a better sense of the research groups that drive progress. Once you have an account, go to your profile and click “Create a Research Group” under the “Research Group” tab. Tell the story of your group and add all of its members that have an account on The People’s Science. Now, when someone follows your group, they’ll get all the updates that any member posts!
SHARE YOUR SCIENCE.
You can post brief (~500 words) summaries of any peer-reviewed paper that you’ve been an author on in the past ten years. You can sync it to your research group and add other authors. Just make sure you follow these three basic rules:
- Keep it short. Use the shortest words you can. Write the shortest sentences you can. Write the shortest paragraphs you can. PROTIP: Use headers!
- Add media. Pictures go a long way. Make sure you have the rights or credit appropriately, but then use multimedia to engage your reader.
- Tell a story. Keep it casual. Why did you personally want to study this? What did you find? What are the limitations and what are you thinking of doing next?
JOIN THE CONVERSATION.
The People’s Science isn’t just for the public to keep track of new science – it’s for researchers too. Follow scientists and research groups outside of your field who you may not otherwise keep track of. Don’t forget it’s a two-way conversation. Ask questions and field comments on your posts. Share your own posts with your networks, groups interested in these topics, and on your websites to encourage more traffic and dialogue. We’ll help you disseminate and track your reach.
KEEP EVERYONE IN THE LOOP.
People want to know what you’re up to! When you release a new paper, write a science post about it. When you post a talk or live webinar, write a blog post or article, publish a book, etc. write a quick update with the link so that your followers can keep track of all of your outreach efforts, all in one place!
CHOOSE A TOPIC BELOW TO LEARN MORE.
All users on The People’s Science agree to adhere to our community guidelines. These guidelines are intended to foster a respectful, open dialogue among users, and to ensure that all submitted content is posted with the permission of the original author(s). The Peoples Science reserves the right to deactivate user accounts and/or remove posts of any users found to be in violation of these guidelines.
- Research briefs are written for original work. All research briefs are required to be submitted with permission of the original author(s). Content submitted on behalf of authors without first obtaining permission, and any cases of plagiarism, are strictly prohibited.
- Share content with attribution. The research briefs that are posted on The People’s Science are accessible by all users of the site; please be aware that this means that your briefs may be shared on social media or through other forms of communication. All content posted on The People’s Science may be shared if attribution is made to the original authors and The People’s Science.
- Comments on The People’s Science are constructive. We encourage all users to comment on posts made by others, and to respond to comments posted on their own briefs. However, we expect that all comments will be respectful and that all criticism will be constructive. Comments that appear aggressive, disrespectful, and/or contain personal attacks will be deleted.
- Account information is accurate. We expect all users to be who they say they are. Information provided on both individual and research group accounts should be accurate and verifiable.
If you find any instances on the site that you believe to be in violation of these guidelines, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO USE THE PEOPLE’S SCIENCE
There are a number of different ways that users can engage with each other in The People’s Science. We want to encourage researchers not only to post research briefs, but also to check out what others have posted. If you find a new lab or researcher whose work interests you, our built-in functionality allows you to see whenever they make new posts (and for your followers to see when you do!).
Posting Research Briefs
Research briefs are short (~500 word) summaries of your peer-reviewed, empirical publications. These should not be scientific paper abstracts, but rather new pieces of writing suitable for a non-scientist audience. You can jump down to read more about how to write a strong research brief. We’ve made sure that it’s quick and easy for you to share you science on The People’s Science!
To get started, you’ll either need to create a new account or log in to your profile. Once you’re logged in you will see the ‘Post Science’ button on the top-right of your screen. Jump down to read more about your profile and feed.
This will automatically bring you to the ‘Post Science’ section of your profile. Here is where you can post new research briefs or manage any changes to briefs that you’ve already posted. Once you are on this page you can start adding your content! You’ll begin by filling out:
Headline/Title: The title of your research brief; what it will be called on The People’s Science.
Tip: Make it something that will be descriptive and interesting for an audience who is unfamiliar with your field.
Featured image: An image that will appear as the thumbnail of your research brief.
Tip: A picture is worth a thousand words, so choose an image that summarizes your brief well.
Topics: Which general category or categories your research brief falls in to. This will also determine where your research brief is posted.
Tip: You can see how we generally categorize research areas on our ‘Explore’ page, and click on specific topics to see research briefs that have been posted there.
Tags: A more specific way of categorizing your research brief, nested within topic. This will also affect how your research brief appears in search results.
Associated Research Group(s): Research briefs can be linked to teams of researchers on The People’s Science. Whenever you add a research group to a brief, your brief will appear on the profile page for that research group. You can only add research groups that you are already a member of to a research brief. If there are no associated groups, you can select ‘Independent research’.
Associated Researcher(s): Similar to the above, this is a way to link research briefs to other researchers with accounts on The People’s Science. The research brief will appear on your profile as well as the profile of any researchers who you add here.
Additional Researcher(s): Here is where you can add the names of co-authors who are not on The People’s Science to a research brief. Although we encourage you to invite them to join us!
Publication Citations: Add a direct citation to the paper that your research brief is summarizing here. You should also add citations for any research that you reference in your brief.
You’ll then add the body of your research brief in the Science Content section. Here you have two options- you can add content using the basic form, or use the template if you prefer a more guided approach. We recommend that first time writers use the template to familiarize themselves with what makes for a high-quality brief. No matter which way you choose to enter in the content, you can improve the quality of your research briefs by adding multimedia, such as figures and videos, simply by dragging and dropping files.
Once you publish your research brief it will be visible to all users in The People’s Science. Users may comment on or favorite your brief, and may even chose to follow you or your research group(s)! Remember, you can always edit your brief by returning to the ‘Post Science’ menu under your profile and clicking “Manage”.
Commenting, Following, and Favoriting
There are a number of ways that you can keep track of your favorite research and scientists in The People’s Science.
Commenting: Join the conversation by adding or replying to comments on posted briefs. Scroll down below posts to add your thoughts! You’ll receive notifications whenever someone responds to your comment, or comments on one of your research briefs. You can see these notifications in your profile.
Following: The authors (and any associated research groups) are listed at the top of every brief. The names of the authors link to their profile pages. From there, you can click on the ‘Follow’ button underneath their profile picture to follow them. If you know the name of a researcher or group that you would like to follow, you can search for their accounts using any search bar on the site. The activity of researchers and groups that you follow will then appear on your profile feed. You will receive a notification when a user follows you.
Favoriting: You will be able to favorite any event that appears in your profile feed. These events include new updates, blog posts, or research briefs that are posted by researchers or groups that you are following. Once you favorite an event you will have easy access to it by clicking on the ‘Favorites’ submenu item on your profile feed.
Your Profile and Feed
Your profile page is your main hub for all of the research you post, follow, and favorite. It is where you let other users know who you are and what groups you’re a part of, and where you can keep up with the activity of your favorite researchers and groups. Here’s a rundown of everything you can do from your profile page:
WRITING A RESEARCH BRIEF
Research briefs are short (~500 word) summaries of your peer-reviewed, empirical publications. These should not be scientific paper abstracts, but rather new pieces of writing suitable for a non-scientist audience. Strong research briefs focus on the ‘big picture’ question that they are contributing an answer to, end with a clear take-home message, and are free of field-specific jargon (or explain jargon in lay-language terms). The below author tutorial was written by The People’s Science Founder, Dr. Jamil Zaki, as a detailed guide to writing a strong research brief.
Many thanks to Elizabeth Bass and others at the Stony Brook Center for Communicating Science for help in creating this tutorial. For those interested in going deeper, the CCS offers fantastic courses on science writing.
The People’s Science provides a centralized forum in which you can present your work to the public and directly talk with people far outside your field about how you see your work and its importance. For this process to work effectively, you must meet a difficult (but deeply worthwhile) challenge: becoming your own interpreter. A common stereotype about scientists is that we do not or cannot describe our work in a way that is palatable and interesting to the lay public. This site is designed in part to overcome that assumption. However, in order to do so, it is important to take some time in thinking deeply about how to convey your work in the most accessible way possible.
What follows is some advice (in the form of a goal, two approaches, and an example) on how to do so.
A Relative Goal
During the holidays, family members typically ask each other how work is going. For scientists, answering this question can be surprisingly difficult. This is because we can get so entrenched in the details of our work that the “long view”—the one our grandparents would understand—seems far away indeed. In writing a research brief, your challenge is to write as though explaining your work to an intelligent, capable relative who is totally naïve to your field and its importance. In essence, this is an exercise in theory of mind: understanding that others’ knowledge and thinking diverges from yours, and that communication requires bridging that gap.
An Inverted Approach to Prioritizing
One important piece of fulfilling our relative goal is learning to re-prioritize the way we present and order information. In a standard abstract, we open with a short introduction about existing knowledge our field has produced about a specific topic. We then spend the bulk of our time describing the details of our study, and end with 1-2 sentences about our conclusions and the possible implications of this work. For your research brief, you should consider inverting this structure. A good research brief will start with (and emphasize) the clearest and broadest conclusions that can be drawn from your work. Does your research inform how people think about some feature of their lives? Does it hold implications for medicine, technology, policy, or the like? This is what readers will most want to know. An inverted research brief should then provide background about the problem your work tackles for the uninitiated. Finally, it fills readers in on the details of your work, and ends by reiterating the implications this work can have.
A Baseball Approach to Terminology
Think of a baseball game you once watched. (If baseball isn’t your thing, any sport or rule-based competition works too.) Now try to explain what happened to a visitor from another planet. You’ll quickly notice that you’re using terms that your audience has no reasons to understand. “It’s the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the Sox down 3” can be a very exciting phrase for some, but not for someone who doesn’t know what an inning is. You’ll then notice that explaining that “an inning is three outs” just begs the question of what an “out” is, and that “an out is three strikes” just begs the question of what a “strike” is. Instead, the most intuitive way to describe baseball might be to start at the beginning, with what’s at stake to the people involved (“It was one group’s last chance to win, and in order to do so they would need something just shy of a miracle to happen.”).
It’s useful to think of scientific jargon in a similar way: totally useful to those who know about it, and a potential barrier for reaching outside. In writing your research brief, take the time to think about when the terms you use are the equivalent of saying “innings” to someone from Alpha Centauri. If so, consider thoughtfully explaining them, or (even better) testing the extent to which you can explain the same idea in more common language.
Here’s an example of a scientific abstract of my own, which I’ve “translated” into a research brief.
Zaki, J., Davis, J., & Ochsner, K. (2012). Overlapping activity in anterior insula during interoception and emotional experience. Neuroimage, 62(1), 493-499.
Classic theories of emotion posit that awareness of one’s internal bodily states (interoception) is a key component of emotional experience. This view has been indirectly supported by data demonstrating similar patterns of brain activity – most importantly, in the anterior insula – during both interoception and emotion elicitation. However, no study has directly compared these two phenomena within participants, leaving it unclear whether interoception and emotional experience truly share the same functional neural architecture.
The current study addressed this gap in knowledge by examining the neural convergence of these two phenomena within the same population. In one task, participants monitored their own heartbeat; in another task they watched emotional video clips and rated their own emotional responses to the videos. Consistent with prior research, heartbeat monitoring engaged a circumscribed area spanning insular cortex and adjacent inferior frontal operculum. Critically, this interoception-related cluster also was engaged when participants rated their own emotion, and activity here correlated with the trial-by-trial intensity of participants’ emotional experience. These findings held across both group-level and individual participant-level approaches to localizing interoceptive cortex. Together, these data further clarify the functional role of the anterior insula and provide novel insights about the connection between bodily awareness and emotion.
RESEARCH BRIEF VERSION
The heart and the mind: Neuroscientific evidence for an overlap between bodily sensation and emotion.
New research from Josh Davis, Kevin Ochsner, and I, demonstrates that the brain processes emotion and internal bodily states in overlapping ways, suggesting a strong link between what we feel and how we feel. We hope this work can help advance our basic understanding of how emotions work and how they go wrong in psychiatric disorders.
Many of us hold the intuition that our emotions come from the “bottom up.” We feel our heart race, or our limbs tense, and these bodily signals tell us something about how we feel. Over a century ago, William James had the same idea, and took it even further. In a classic article called “What is an Emotion?” James suggested that bodily sensations are not just symptoms of experiencing an emotion; they are (at least in part) the experience of emotion. This controversial theory has been supported by more recent data from neuroscience. Specifically, scientists have found that a brain region known as the anterior insula becomes active both during “interoception” (when people pay attention to internal bodily states like their heartbeat) and during emotion experience. However, scientists had previously only examined activity in the insula during either interoception or emotion, making it unclear how much these two phenomena actually overlap in the brain. In this study, we took a closer look at the extent to which thinking about your body and feeling emotions share a neural signature.
Our participants were scanned using functional MRI during two separate tasks. First, they viewed emotional videos and rated how they much these videos made them feel positively or negatively. Second, they focused on and tapped along with their heartbeat (interoception). We found that the insula was the only brain region that showed activity in response to 3 phenomena: (1) focusing on one’s heartbeat, (2) watching emotional videos, and (3) the intensity of emotion participants felt during these videos. Further, the same part of the insula responded to bodily sensation and emotion within each participant. It’s important to realize that the insula is engaged by many different states (pain, disgust, uncertainty), and we are not claiming that only bodily sensations and emotion activate this region. However, it’s interesting and important to think about the common “psychological ingredients” that connect the different states that activate the insula. One intriguing possibility is that the body—and attention to the body—is one such common ingredient. We hope that this study, along with other similar work, will help us more deeply understand the architecture of human emotion, in ways that can eventually help those with affective disorders such as anxiety and depression.
I hope these tips help in your research brief preparation. Happy writing!