NSC FAQs

What is a Notation in Science Communication?

The Notation is a designation that will appear on your transcript indicating that you have developed significant science communication skills while at Stanford.  It is like a minor but allows more latitude in completing the required work and focuses on an electronic Portfolio (ePortfolio) rather than a high number of additional courses.  

Working with advisors in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and with your major advisor (or another advisor from a science field), you develop a curricular plan that includes two advanced PWR courses and one additional Non-PWR Elective course (beyond the WIM requirement) emphasizing communication to guide your development as a researcher, writer, and presenter.

Throughout the Notation program, you will develop an ePortfolio of writing and presentations.  

Why would I want to get a Notation in Science Communication?

The Notation will

  • enhance your ability to communicate within your academic discipline
  • develop your ability to communicate science to prospective employers, journalists, and wider public
  • demonstrate to employers or graduate programs your expertise in science communication

What are the advanced PWR classes?

advanced PWR Courses

How do I apply?

There are two application periods for the Notation in Science Communication, one in fall quarter and one in spring quarter. See our NSC Dates and Deadlines page for specific dates and a link to the online application. Once you have applied, the NSC commitee assesses your application and admit you to the program. Note: Preference is given to sophomores and juniors for fall applications and to freshman and sophomores in spring applications. 

What is an ePortfolio?

An electronic Portfolio (ePortfolio) is a purposeful selection of samples of your own work that represent your learning. You may select print documents, PowerPoint slides, and video of your presentations, among other media from throughout your Stanford career, to represent your science writing acumen.  It includes reflective writing that explores and explains what you’ve learned about science communication.  

Why do we have to create an ePortfolio to earn the Notation?

There are three reasons.  First, the ePortfolio demonstrates that you have met the cumulative requirement for the Notation.  Second, because of its significant reflective component, it enhances your learning by encouraging you to draw connections among your courses and writing experiences. Lastly, it documents your transferable communication skills and allows you to present your work to a number of audiences beyond your instructors. Prospective employers and graduate school admissions committees might use the ePortfolio as a way to assess your science communication skills.

How do I learn to build an ePortfolio?

You take a 1-unit introductory course on ePortfolios (PWR99A) at the beginning of the Notation.  In this course, you begin to collect the documents, slides, and videos that demonstrate your development as a science communicator.  At the end of your senior year, you take a second 2-unit class (PWR99B) to polish your ePortfolio for review by the Notation governance board.

If I enroll in the Notation, am I exempted from PWR 2?

Being admitted to the Notation does not exempt you from PWR 2 or the WRT-2 requirement more generally. In fact, the Advanced PWR courses that you take as part of your Notation curricula have PWR 2 as a pre-requisite.

For further questions email: notationsc@stanford.edu