Using the Lab
How do I make a Communication Lab appointment?
Visit our Find Communication Labs page, select a Communication Lab in a department/discipline relevant to your needs. Once you are at a departmental Communication Lab’s website, click the “Make an Appointment” button. There you can find our quick sign-up system for appointments and detailed information about what to expect from an appointment.
Can I use the Communication Lab if I’m an MIT undergraduate or postdoc?
The Communication Lab was designed to support graduate students in the School of Engineering, but all MIT students, postdocs, and staff are welcome to make appointments with Communication Fellows and attend workshops and other events.
Can I use the Communication Lab if I am at MIT, but my department doesn’t yet have its own Lab?
Even if your department does not yet have its own Communication Lab, you are welcome to find a Communication Lab in a field close to your own, make an appointment with a Fellow, and attend workshops/events. Our resource was created to match students with peers in their field for feedback, so the closer you can get to finding a Fellow whose expertise is aligned with your research, the more effective our program will be in supporting you.
Can I make an appointment with the Communication Lab if I am not an MIT student?
In order to make an appointment with the Communication Lab, you must be an MIT student, postdoc, or affiliate.
Will the Communication Fellows edit my work for grammar or English language issues?
The Communication Fellows offer high-level, strategic coaching about technical writing, speaking, and visual design. The Fellows are not available to line-edit work, and they are not trained to support English Language Learners.
Other campus resources for English Language Learners: the Writing and Communication Center has ELL experts on staff, and the English Language Studies program offers courses in English writing, listening, speaking, and pronunciation.
Collaborating with the Comm Lab
How do I request a Communication Lab workshop or resource?
If you are an MIT student, staff, or affiliate, and you would like the Communication Lab to create a workshop or other service/resource for a particular need, please either…
- find the Communication Lab for your department and contact its manager, or
- if your department does not have a Comm Lab or you are in a cross-departmental organization, contact the Communication Lab director.
For workshops, please note that we ask for a minimum audience size of 10, and at least 6 weeks’ notice.
How can the Communication Lab support my class?
The Communication Lab is available to support graduate classes, as well as undergraduate classes that are not already supported by Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication (WRAP). If your class involves communication deliverables such as presentations, papers, or final projects, here are some ways we can collaborate with you to provide support:
- Individual student feedback – Encourage your students to sign up for Communication Lab coaching prior to submitting a draft or final product. We will train our Fellows in advance so that they are aware of your class’ deadlines, assignment guidelines, and other expectations.
- Peer feedback facilitation – We can help you design in-class or electronic feedback sessions for your students.
- Online resources – Our departmental CommKits, which provide task-specific scientific communication articles and examples, are a great resource to add to your syllabus. If you would like resources more specifically catered to your subject’s content, please contact us.
- Workshops – The Communication Fellows can design and provide a workshop during a recitation or class time to help students prepare for a deliverable.
- Curriculum advising – We can review and provide input on assignment descriptions, rubrics, and other materials related to your communication deliverables, both to ensure that our Communication Fellows are prepared to support your students, and to help you assess whether your materials align with the communication experience you aim for your students to have.
To learn more about support, contact a Communication Lab manager from your department.
How can my MIT department/program start its own Communication Lab?
The Communication Lab director is happy to discuss options for launching Communication Lab services for your program; please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
How can I start a Communication Lab at my own institution?
We train other institutions how to adapt the educational and organizational principles of the Communication Lab at our Summer Institute, a four-day, hands-on workshop where participants draft a strategic plan for their own Communication Lab or other science communication initiative.
Learn more about other institutions that have adapted our model after participating in the Summer Institute: The Communication Lab Consortium
How do you train the Communication Fellows?
All first-year Communication Fellows are trained as a cohort. To prepare our Fellows to support their peers, we design our trainings so that they are field-specific and timely (e.g., the Fellows are trained in graduate school and fellowship applications in the fall). The full training series comprises 9 sessions of two hours each, spaced over a year, with an emphasis on analysis and coaching of authentic, field-specific examples. In addition, Communication Fellows receive ample individual feedback from staff, develop departmental strategies as a team, and have the opportunity to participate in a wide spectrum of professional development opportunities that we offer throughout the year.
We strongly encourage Fellows to use the Communication Lab experience to help them achieve their own professional goals; the staff is here to support Fellow-led initiatives, projects, and innovations.
What else can I do to get involved in science communication as a student/postdoc?
Can you recommend a science communication textbook?
Our favorite single book about technical communication is Trees, Maps, and Theorems by Jean-luc Doumont.