Unleash the Spirit of Science Communication

About AWSAR

With the objective to strengthen the ecosystem of science communication in the country and to bring science closer to society, “Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research” (AWSAR) initiative aims to disseminate Indian research stories among the masses in a format that is easy to understand and interesting for a common person. Under this initiative, PhD Scholars and Post- Doctoral Fellows (PDFs) in science and technology (S&T) streams would be encouraged to write at least one popular science article during the tenancy of their fellowship, and to participate in a national competition.

Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR)

Background

Although, India has made phenomenal progress in Science & Technology (S&T) in past two decades, research in S&T and its significance/relevance was mostly restricted within institutional boundaries and research communication limited to scientific fraternity through publications of articles in peer-reviewed journals. Yawning communication gap exists at science-society interface. Bridging this gap between scientific community and lay public is a challenging task. Writing Popular Article based on a topic or focus of S&T research being conducted by a PhD scholar is a both an art and a science, and still more a skill or competency. It is even more challenging to tell a story about scientific affair evolving out of a R&D lab. These narratives from various research labs in the country need capturing and revealing the message of science in an easy to understand but at the same time interesting format, to connect with masses.

What is AWSAR?

Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) is a new initiative conceptualized by Department of Science and Technology (DST) and coordinated by Vigyan Prasar (An autonomous institute of DST) to connect existing gap in communicating research to common person by utilizing latent potential of PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows (PDFs). The following are the objectives of this initiative

  1. Encourage youth pursuing higher studies to submit at least one story/article based on their research work.
  2. Foster, strengthen and create scientific temper through popular science writing and creating a culture of science communication/popularisation among the scholars.
  3. Recognize the initiative and output of researchers on the specific aspects of natural, physical, mathematical and information sciences, applied science, technology, engineering, and multi-disciplinary science.
  4. Conduct training Workshops for Early Career Researchers (PhD Scholars and PDFs) in popular science writing.

Submission of popular science stories related to research work of PhD scholars and PDFs

Entries would be invited from research scholars and PDFs who wish to publish their research in way that would interest non-scientific audiences. The story should focus on the answering the queries such as Why does my research matter?; Why is it important?; Why does it interest researchers?; Why should it interest the reader?; objectively. The article must be based on the research undertaken by the individual researcher. The article could be on complete or part of the research conducted, but it should not be a general review of the area and must have the component of new knowledge created as part of the research.

The article must aim at general audience through popular writing and should not be published elsewhere. It should be written in easy to understand language to convey the significance of the research for its outreach.

Eligibility criteria for article submission

The following are the eligibility criteria for submitting the article for award

  1. The entries will be invited from the youth pursuing PhD in S&T and Post Doc fellows from a recognized University/R&D Institute.
  2. Applicants must be an Indian citizen.
  3. Applicants can only submit single article in a year. Re-application by applicants from previous years is encouraged, as long as the eligibility criteria continue to be met. However, past winners of the Award will not be eligible to submit a research story second time in the same category.

Selection Criteria

The following will be the criteria for judging the entries

  1. The entries will be judged on the basis of accuracy, clarity, insightfulness, fairness, and resourcefulness.
  2. The entries should convincingly answer the questions such as Why does the research matter? Does the article explain the writer’s research in a way that is easy to comprehend? Is it a compelling read? etc.
  3. An Expert Panel of science communicators, media persons, subject experts and practitioners, constituted by DST, will evaluate the submitted science stories.

Award categories

  1. Selection of best 100 entries of popular science stories and prizes.
    1. For PhD researchers: The initial screening of the entry will be done by expert panel. 100 entries will be selected and each will be awarded with cash prize of   10,000/- along with Certificate of Appreciation.
    2. For Post doc fellows: Twenty entries would be selected from articles submitted by PDFs relating to their line of research. Each will be awarded with cash prize of   10,000/- along with Certificate of Appreciation.
  2. Selection of top three leading stories
    1. For PhD researchers: The top three articles/stories will be selected from the leading 100 stories. Further, they will be awarded with the cash prize of   1,00,000/-, Rs.50,000/- and   25,000/- respectively.
    2. For Post doc fellows: One outstanding article/story will be selected from the leading 25 stories. Further the same will be awarded with the cash prize of   1,00,000/-.

These awards will be bestowed on 28 February at National Science Day event every year. All the awardees will be given an opportunity to attend Science Film Training Workshop organized by Vigyan Prasar.

Workshops for early career researchers in writing popular science story

The workshops aims to suggest tips for effective communication and noteworthy writing in popular science writing format. Identified group of experts will organize few workshops every year. The tentative theme will cover

  1. Learn what makes writing good.
  2. Emphasise on effective way of writing in the clearest way possible, use of jargon which explain its meaning clearly.
  3. Use of appropriate words, language, sentences clinches for particular effects
  4. Tips for original writing
  5. Tips for getting a hook to grab the attention of the reader.
  6. Basic rules of style, the flow of words and sentences, Grammar and punctuation

Basic guidelines for submitting a popular science story

AWSAR programme shall have following guidelines for its implementation:

  1. Any Indian citizen pursuing PhD or PDF in any S&T stream is eligible to apply under AWSAR.
  2. The scholars should be enrolled in PhD program from Government approved Institutions for last two years. PDF associated with any recognized institute can also apply.
  3. Preference will be given to applicants with published paper(s) of their research work. Both full-time and part-time PhD students will be invited for larger participation.
  4. The article should indicate complete research story in simple language to be understood by the general public. No complex figures, graphs, equations or formulae should be included except self-explanatory infographics which may be formulated for effective communication.
  5. Only original articles sent exclusively for nomination for AWSAR award will be accepted. Articles previously published elsewhere, or simultaneously sent for publication elsewhere, are not acceptable.
  6. The applicants are requested to mention the theme, title of the paper along with their name, affiliation, and contact details in the submitted article.
  7. Articles submitted should carry a declaration that the article is original and has not been previously published elsewhere.
  8. Article of 1000-1500 words (A4-size with 2.5 cm margin on all sides, single column, Times New Roman font, font size 12, 1.5 line spacing written in MS Word)will be accepted for further scrutiny.
  9. Applicants found guilty of plagiarism will be blacklisted and debarred from being participation in future.
  10. All articles should be submitted through an online portal. It is suggested that hard copy can also be submitted to the office for record.
  11. A panel of eminent scientists and science communicators constituted by DST will select the best 100 entries received from PhD scholars and 20 best entries received from postdoctoral fellows.