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Staffers Complete Clear Writing Workshop

By Eddy Ball
January 2010

Ginny Redish, Ph.D.
Redish earned a Ph.D. in linguistics from Harvard University and has received a long list of honors from such groups as the Society for Technical Communication, the NIH, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Professional Communication Society. (Photo courtesy of Ginny Redish)

book cover of Dr. Redish's latest book
The title of Redish's latest book is a summary of her message to writers. (Cover used with permission of Ginny Redish)

NIEHS employees enjoyed an opportunity during the first week of December to look at their writing from the distinctive perspective of veteran communications consultant Ginny Redish, Ph.D. Redish is the president of Redish & Associates in Bethesda, who combines her training in linguistics and cognitive psychology with decades of experience helping government agencies and private businesses communicate more effectively in the new world of electronic publishing.

Organized by the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL), the two-day sessions, Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 3-4, drew 30 employees from throughout the Institute to the interactive, hands-on training. Along with staff from OCPL, the National Toxicology Program (NTP), Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT), and Office of Management (OM), postdoctoral fellows from several Division of Intramural Research (DIR) labs attended the workshops.

OCPL plans to offer more workshops in the future

OCPL Director Christine Bruske Flowers said her office has a waiting list of people eager to attend the next workshop series. "As more and more communication takes place on the internet," she explained, "more scientists and administrators are coming to realize their writing strategies need to evolve to take advantage of the new medium and produce Web content that works."

Participants comment on the workshop experience

"Dr. Redish's writing workshop was a great educational experience. Its highly interactive style was effective," commented DIR Postdoctoral Fellow Omari Bandele, Ph.D. "I am already implementing the tips that she provided. This type of workshop could be beneficial to all postdoctoral fellows."

"I found this among the best courses I've taken at NIEHS, ever, in my 31 years here!" added OM staffer and Grapevine editor Dick Sloane. "Redish emphasized simplicity many times, even when writing for a technical audience. The idea is to get our ideas across efficiently and quickly for readers who usually have little time to spend looking for the message."

Veteran OCPL Public Information Specialist John Peterson offered an insider's take on the experience. "No matter how much training and experience writers have," he said, "they can always benefit by learning fresh ways to make their writing clearer."



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