SCOM3003 Science Communication Research Project is the peak course option for Science Communication Majors, who design and conduct original research projects, with an eye to solving real world problems, furthering professional ambitions, putting their ideas into the public domain and/or publishing in academic venues.

Since 2016, I have co-taught this with SCOM7000 Master of Science Communication Research Project, the capstone course for students undertaking the Master of Science Communication degree program.

Possible projects are limited only by time and imagination, but must be approved by the course convenor and project supervisor. They can include:

  •  investigations into what people (or a particular group of people) think or feel about an aspect of science
  • the development of a product for communicating science and evaluation of its effectiveness
  • an analysis of existing science communication tools, e.g. an analysis of media coverage of a science topic
  • archival-based research into the history of something relevant to science communication
  • a directed literature review on a theory-based science communication topic.

Many projects will involve human participant research (surveys, focus groups, interviews, experiments, etc), either as the core research question and method or as a strategy for testing a science communication product. All such projects must receive ethics approval before proceeding, and students are trained and assisted in this.

Students whose projects are of sufficient standard are assisted to publish their work in appropriate professional venues. So far two student projects have been published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals (see also undergraduate publishing). Naomi Shadbolt‘s project surveying young women’s knowledge about endometriosis and their communication preferences for finding out more about it has been published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia, and was presented at the 12th World Congress on Endometriosis in São Paulo, Brazil. A paper about Amy Dobos‘s research testing the uses of pictures for communicating about Alzheimer’s disease has been accepted for publication in Public Understanding of Science.


For more detailed information on SCOM3003 see the online handbook description.


Students’ comments about SCOM3003 have included:

“Being able to conduct research on a topic of my choice was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my time at university. Working with my supervisor was a valuable experience and taught me a great deal about conducting research and presenting my results for possible publication. Lindy Orthia is a fantastic course convener and her passion for teaching should be recognized with an award one day.

“It is a great course to prepare students for future research projects and encouraged the student’s independence”

this has been an amazing experience and opportunity, and I’ve learned sooooo much”

“I thought that it was a great course. I liked that I had the choice to create any kind of SCOM research project and found it very beneficial to go through the entire process you would if you were submitting a thesis. I would recommend this course.”