An age of style

Champion sponsor of the Annual Meeting

Reported by Olivia McKenna


  • Randy Olson, author and scientist-turned filmmaker

Randy Olson delivered an enthusiastic and interactive session on how storytelling can be used as a powerful tool for delivering effective scientific communication. 

Intrigued by the ability of the original Jurassic Park movie to inspire an insurgence of PhD applications in palaeontology, and by this use of mass communication to motivate people, Randy made the leap from marine biologist to film student. 

During his film-making career he developed the ‘And, But and Therefore’, or ABT, narrative template, which helps to draw connections between different parts of a research topic to make it more compelling for a given audience. 

The ABT template is as follows: 

[State already known data/knowledge] AND [state another piece of already known information], BUT [state the problem], THEREFORE [state the consequences or how the problem is being addressed].

This simple yet effective ABT narrative template is very common, and its structure can be found in many narratives, including famous speeches, nursey rhymes, and Watson and Crick’s 1953 Nature paper on molecular structure of nucleic acids. 

Randy has since developed an interactive online ABT framework course to help publication professionals to implement this method of effective communication.  

About the author

Name: Olivia McKenna
Job role: Associate Medical Writer, Oxford
Time at Oxford PharmaGenesis: 7 months
What am I most looking forward to at ISMPP? Learning more about the exciting ways to employ effective scientific communication and the future of open science