Models, Modes & Methods of Systems Communication

Repositioning & Refining the Role of Communication in STEM


Rick Scavetta


July 23, 2022



The draft articles1 on this site cover a broad range of topics in communication skills. Specifically, those topics relevant to understanding and effectively using communication2 in STEM3 fields.

Idealistically, the target audience includes STEM folk of all stripes. Although communication challenges unique to specific disciplines exist, those common throughout STEM fields are numerous and offer a useful entry point. Realistically, this audience may prove to be far too broad. Early drafts already suffer from a data science and experimental biology bias4 that must be addressed. Indeed, the breadth of the target audience may be narrowed as part of the writing process.

The focus is on improving communication among STEM folk, a topic that receives surprisingly little attention in practice, compared to improving communication to a lay audience.

The overall goal is two-fold:

  1. Theoretical: to change the understanding of communication among STEM folk, and,
  2. Practical: to provide relevant examples and exercises to improve communication.

Taken together, my hope is to provide a modern synthesis of communication in STEM, integrating a powerful tool that is sorely unappreciated, misunderstood and ineffectively used, into everyday thinking and practice across STEM.

Table of Contents

Part 1: A Modern Synthesis

  • Introduction
  • Systems thinking
  • Mathematical Model of Communication
  • Differences in thinking among STEM disciplines

Part 1: Barriers to Communication

  • Back to Basics
  • Skeptical of Story-telling
  • The Joy of Boring
  • Information Unifers
  • Elementary Units
  • Key Themes

Part 2: Breaking down Barriers

  • Realization 1: The myth of hard & soft skills
  • Consequence 1: Raising the status of soft skills
  • Realization 2: The myth of hard & soft sciences
  • Consequence 2: Rebranding Sciences

Part 3: A Modern Synthesis

  • Building Models
  • Fine-tuning Models
  • Functional Comm
  • A Useful Framework

Part 4: Effective Communication in Practice

  • Designing Communication
  • Story-telling and Data Literacy
    • What are they and when to worry about them
  • Written
    • Text general
    • Text for specific media
  • Visual
    • Designing a visual identity (& Language)
    • Data Visualizations
    • Diagrams & Sketch notes
  • Oral
    • Body Language (visible and audible)
    • Structure
  • Combination
    • Slides: data visualizations, diagrams, text & oral
    • Figure, figure legends & text

  1. Some articles may appear in a rough outline form.↩︎

  2. i.e. Both theoretical and practical↩︎

  3. Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics↩︎

  4. Areas familiar to the author.↩︎