Expanding the Reach of the COMPASS Message Box

One longstanding challenge in science communication is distilling complex research into straightforward messages that are meaningful for different audiences. COMPASS is a nonprofit organization that has been coaching scientists on communication and policy engagement since 1999. A grant from the Rita Allen Foundation will enable COMPASS to expand the reach of its Message Box, a deceptively simple tool designed to help scientists effectively communicate their work to non-scientists. The COMPASS team will create a freely available workbook to guide any scientist through the process of using the Message Box. The Message Box provides a framework for organizing key information about a scientific topic, including the problems a research question seeks to address, the importance of those problems, potential solutions and the benefits of investigating those solutions. COMPASS has already used this approach to prepare thousands of researchers for engaging with school and community groups, journalists and policymakers. As a free online resource, the Message Box will reach many more scientists, including graduate-level trainees, increasing support for an emerging culture that encourages scientists to share their processes and discoveries beyond their labs.