Reflections on Collaborative, Student-Led Science Communication

“Getting the chance to work with a large group of students from different universities has been exciting, creative and a welcome stress reliever during an unprecedented year”.  

Siobhan McGeechan

Siobhan McGeechan has had a busy year. As well as completing the final year of a BSc in Anatomy, she has worked part time as Funding Intern with the MVLS Engagement team at the University of Glasgow and made time to step into the role of University of Glasgow editor for the Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology magazine (TheGIST). Here, Siobhan reflects on her experiences as an editor and what she’s learnt along the way. 

Getting (into) TheGist 

Throughout my undergraduate career I have had a strong interest in science communication. I was already aware of The Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology (TheGIST), a student-led science magazine; I had registered as a contributor in my third year and written an article for them. The magazine is not just affiliated with University of Glasgow; it is a collaboration with the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian University as well. I saw that their University of Glasgow editor was standing down at the beginning of my fourth year and although it felt like a big leap, I decided to take a chance and volunteer for the role. Now at the end of my fourth year, it’s my turn to step down and pass the role onto another student. Looking back on my year as editor, I’ve learned so much that will help me step into a science communication career.  

What does an editor of TheGIST do? 

The editorial role for TheGIST requires a lot of flexibility: I oversaw an editorial team of 14 students across all three universities, helping to train new contributors. I also pitched in where needed with specialist editing, copy editing, design, and even social media management. It is also the editor’s role to stay on top of deadlines for funding applications and award nominations.  

While this might sound like a lot of work, I gained invaluable skills throughout that were excellent practice for future work. I now know I can confidently manage a lot of work without oversight; I know how to prioritise; and after writing several award nominations to strict specifications, grant deadlines hold no fear for me! I can also point clearly to the editorial role as evidence of these skills. It is a great way to stand out as an undergraduate, as proven by the number of board members who have gone on to launch a science communication career. If you want to know more, you can read about some of their careers in our Winter 2020 issue.  

Lots of work but lots of benefits too 

It might sound as if volunteering for TheGIST is all about career progression but by far, the most important thing I will take away from my time as editor is just how much fun it has been. Getting the chance to work with a large group of students from different universities has been exciting, creative and a welcome stress reliever during an unprecedented year.  

Passing on the baton 

If I wasn’t graduating, I would definitely be continuing my role into the coming year; but although anyone can contribute to the magazine, board members must be current students. So, it’s time to pass the baton to the next editor with the message that as much responsibility as it is, you’re going to have a great time.  

If you’re interested in getting involved in TheGIST, you can find out how to here. Available board positions for the year will be advertised soon via Twitter, and you can contact the current team by e-mail at   

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