Frequently Asked Questions: The Solution Section

How many ideas should I have in the Solution section?

There may be several ideas you want to include—just make sure that they are all relevant to the particular audience and the specific problem(s) you are addressing, and are stated succinctly. But remember, the Message Box is intended to help you prioritize what is most important to convey, so think hard about that. Also consider whether your Problem statement is too broad and could be more specific. In some cases, revisiting the Problem statement can help narrow down the focus of the topic and what needs to be done to address it.

How do I handle the issue of advocating for a particular solution?

Whether you want to advocate for a particular solution or course of action is a deeply personal choice. In some scientific fields, advocating for a specific position is common practice. In others, it raises concerns that advocacy could undermine scientific objectivity or credibility. Deciding to advocate for a given solution depends on the audience, your professional role, and the context in which you’re presenting your information. Have you been asked by decision-makers to share your professional judgment? Is a particular solution critical to solving the problem? How important is the problem?

What if the only Solution that I can think of is simply more research?

The solution in some cases might simply be to obtain a greater understanding of X, Y, or Z. But in many cases, having this as your only Solution is an indication that the Problem statement or the So What needs further distillation. Consider whether either (or both) of these sections are too in-the-weeds of your scientific discipline, and aren’t framed as topics that matter in people’s lives. Try to rework them to make sure that they are relevant to your audience.

What if my Solution doesn't really impact the Problem?

If your Solutions don’t relate to the Problem you identified, then either adjust the Problem or adjust the Solution so that they do relate. Some questions to consider include whether your Problem and Solution points are operating at the same scale (i.e., if the problem is that wildlife aren't able to move vast distances across the country due to barriers, but your solution is to have town hall meetings in only one state, you would need to adjust the scale of your suggested solution). Another question to consider might be whether your Solution is specific enough, or if it is stated too vaguely to actually solve the Problem.

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