Superheroes: from Aristotle to Iron Man

Science communication, superheroes and an ancient Greek text were just some of the topics discussed at the excellent annual #SpotOn17 London conference at the Francis Crick Institute on Saturday. A veritable feast of (Altmetric) doughnuts and cupcakes also had their moments in the limelight, all feeding in to the theme of What makes a great researcher: tools & skills.

In recent years, several new tools for sharing data, images, documents and comments (and more) have been created and researchers now have several options when choosing to share and discuss their work. According to the Innovations in Scholarly Communication project, there are over 600 tools for scholarly communication, created by a range of organisations and researchers themselves.


The day kicked off with a supercharged talk from Suze Kundu (@funsizesuze) on superheroes and how modern science is not that far away from actual superpowers. Invisibility cloaks and protective crash-helmet-style-beanie hats for snowboarders are just two of the possibilities (#Kapow!). Suze also pointed out that several superheroes don’t possess supernatural powers, many of them are top notch scientists who created their own powers.

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How many of us were inspired to go into science by a superhero or two? Perhaps we should do a superhero survey of scientists…

The wisdom of the ancient Greeks…

An inspiring and fun talk by Simon Lancaster (@bespokespeeches) pointed out that, for good communication, one of the best books ever written was Rhetoric by Aristotle which emphasises ethos (ethics), logos (logic) and pathos (emotion) – you can download a version of Rhetoric here if you are looking for an intense holiday read. Simon also highlighted the effect of a good metaphor and an engaging story to capture the interest of your audience.

Other topics included researcher careers, community, data, research impact, metrics, integrity, licensing, diversity, mentoring, finding information, open access, open data and much more. You can search for the tweets on some of these using the hashtags below:


Just a summary of a few brief thoughts – there was so much to talk about! Looking forward to next year!


The Scientific Editing Company delivers research communication workshops at institutions all around the UK and Europe (contact us).


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