Frequently Asked Questions: The So What? Section

Can I include more than one reason to care in my So What?

Yes. Just be sure to keep each example succinct, and remember to stick to three to five ideas total.

How can I be sure my audience will care about my work?

Do some research on your audience to gain insight on what aspects of your work will be relevant to them. But it’s helpful to remember that most audiences will not be as interested in the scientific or theoretical aspects of your work, and certainly not the details and nuances. They are typically more interested in practical applications—what might your results mean for livelihoods, health, well-being, or security?. Consider how your work can affect their lives—if not now, then in the future—and how you might appeal to their hearts as well as their minds. Sharing your own passion for your work, and why you care, can often help you reach others.

What if I'm doing basic research?

If your audience is other scientists, then adding to the scientific foundations of your field might be the primary relevance of your work. If your audience is non-scientists, then consider what aspects of your work might resonate with them. Those aspects might include some of the practical applications of your work that could emerge in the future. Or it might address how increasing our understanding of X could lead to better understanding of Y—assuming that Y is something that resonates with your audience. Alternatively, you might emphasize the awe-factor of your work, what’s new about it, or how it changes our understanding of the world. Do you have a discovery to share that would be amazing and inherently interesting to an audience of non-scientists? It’s important to be mindful of what your audience cares about—how can you connect with what they value, their concerns, or their hopes for the future? The bottom line is to find the intersection between what you care about and what your audience cares about.

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