For six years, Useful Science has connected the public with digestible summaries of science. Founded in 2014 by a group of McGill University graduate students, UsefulScience.org aims to help people make informed decisions about how to lead better lives through the accessible and accurate reporting of scientific research. Too often, we noticed, articles about science written for the public distort findings into clickbait. On the other hand, journal articles that provide greater levels of accuracy are not written with a general audience in mind, and are rarely available for free outside of academia.
With the motivation to provide Tweet-length digests to people on the go, we publish short summaries of scientific findings written in straightforward language. We focus on topics including nutrition, happiness, sleep, and parenting – categories in which small behavioral changes can have significant impact. The demand has been undeniable; since 2014 we gained 20,000 subscribers and average 10,000 pageviews per month on our website. Our mission also compels us to report on issues that are of existential importance to humanity including climate change and most recently the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps our most exciting project has been the launch of the Useful Science podcast, which allows us to expand on our summaries by further discussing both their implications and limitations. The podcast has had over 1 million downloads and is now being co-produced with the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have also partnered with Fitbit, Elsevier, The Talent Strategy Group, TheRounds.ca, and professors at McGill and Western Universities. We provide training in science communication to all of our volunteer contributors and our partnerships have formalized this training through research placements, digital media internships, and course practicums for graduate students.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (May 2020)