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Topic: Advice

Special issue on careers in scientific editing and publishing

Council of Science Editors (CSE)

"The focus of this issue of Science Editor is on careers and roles in scientific editing and publishing. In 2017, we published a similar special careers-focused issue, and it seemed a good time to explore what has shifted in the past 6 years. This issue includes interviews and articles covering an array of editor roles and positions, many of which are new, have increased in prominence, or significantly changed in the last few years. There are also articles on the importance of training and preparing the next generation of researchers and editors, increasing diversity and equity, and the transition to remote work."

Science Journalism Is Shrinking–Along With Public Trust In Science

"Beyond talented journalists losing their jobs, many people seem to be losing trust in science in general. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that only 57% of Americans think science has a mostly positive effect on society, down considerably since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is the waning trust in science reflected in the shrinking of science journalism? Ira talks about the current state of science journalism with Deborah Blum, science journalist, author, publisher of Undark magazine, and director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sabrina Imbler, author and science reporter for Defector."
Resource Database / Guide

A Scientist’s Guide to Working with the Media

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

"Sharing your science with media outlets can get your work in front of a broader audience and promote the value of scientific research. But it helps to have tips for working with journalists, public information, and communications officers. This guide is meant to help you effectively convey the value of your work to journalists and the audiences they represent. Read on to learn about what makes science newsworthy, how to promote your work to the press, how to prepare for interviews with journalists, best practices for effectively communicating your science message, and more."

SciCommers Mentor Chat Series

Boston University

SciCommers is a free network for scientists and engineers to improve their science communication skills and connect with science writing opportunities, hosted by Boston University. In the network's monthly Mentor Chats, communication experts video-chat with SciCommers about topics including how to start a podcast, science outreach, freelance science writing, and more. Past Mentor Chats are posted on the SciCommers YouTube channel.

Covering obesity: 6 tips for dispelling myths and avoiding stigmatizing news coverage

"Dozens of academic studies spotlight problems in news coverage of obesity. To help journalists reflect on their work and make improvements, we asked seven experts for advice."

How to pitch to a science editor

"Successfully pitching a story to a science editor requires a wide range of skills, from researching their outlet to communicating with them in a professional way. In this practical guide, we have compiled advice from six different science editors with extensive experience in commissioning pieces for a number of different outlets including Science, BBC Focus Magazine, New Scientist, the Mail and Guardian and SciDev.Net. Following the advice in this guide will increase the chances of getting your story accepted by an editor."

Pitching errors: How not to pitch

"Writing a good pitch is really tough. Writing a bad one is easy. Editors see the same mistakes over and over again, even from good writers." Seven editors from a variety of publications had a roundtable, email discussion about how not to pitch. This resulting article is full of do's and don't and practical advice for what not to do when pitching a story.

International opportunities for Latin American science journalists


In this webinar, a session from the Symposium to Advance Science Communication and Journalism in Chile (SAPeCCT) 2023, a panel of editors at science publications discussed freelance opportunities for writers in Latin America. The panel included Debbie Ponchner, Knowable en español; David Malakoff, Science; Rachel Courtland, MIT Technology Review; Lynne Walker, Stories Without Borders; Lauren Wolf, Nature; and Siri Carpenter, The Open Notebook.

Ask TON: How much time should I spend preparing a pitch?

Writers and editors at The Open Notebook respond to a question from a reader: "What is a normal amount of time to spend on preparing pitches for magazine feature stories? I’ve heard people say they spend as little as an hour, and others say they conduct multiple interviews before pitching—and I assume they then spend a good deal of time writing the pitch itself. What’s usually the best approach, practically speaking?”

How to successfully pitch The New York Times (or, well, anyone else)

In this article, Tim Herrera (who was, at the time, Smarter Living editor at the New York Times) explains some common do's and don't's of pitching freelance journalism articles. He writes: "After consulting with about a dozen editors who commission stories at publications ranging from small, niche blogs to national magazines and newspapers, I’ve pulled together the six most common mistakes freelancers make when pitching — and what you can do to impress an editor."
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Tipsheet: Pursuing investigative stories as a science writer

This tipsheet, from a session at the ScienceWriters 2023 meeting, shares tips and resources for pursuing investigative stories on science topics. The session featured several esteemed investigative reporters talking about how they produced notable stories. The panelists discussed finding story ideas, filing public records requests, working with scientific research, considering libel risk, and more.

How Science Writing Fuels My Ph.D.

Duke University

"Research can be an insulating endeavor, but bringing my work out of the lab and sharing it with the wider world of politics helped deepen my appreciation for science and the people that fund that science," writes Ph.D. student Jameson Blount. In this blog post, Blount describes his experience pairing research with science writing.

Ask TON: Crafting a winning fellowship proposal

"What are the essentials of a strong proposal for a journalism fellowship? Fellowships can boost your career in many ways. They provide a supportive environment that can yield more impactful stories. They supplement commissions from journalism outlets (and often provide financial assistance for travel). And the prestige of a big fellowship doesn’t hurt a person’s résumé, either. Fellowships are also a great way to build relationships with your peers—camaraderie shaped during a fellowship can endure long after the fellowship period ends. Here, we’ve gathered advice about how to assemble a top-tier proposal."

Paying for it: Getting grants and fellowships

"Grants and fellowships have long been important funding sources, providing writers time and money to dig deeper into a story or subject area than they otherwise could. These sources of outside support range from small travel grants of a few hundred dollars to in-residence fellowships that last as long as a year and provide stipends of $50,000 or more to support academic studies or career-development goals." This article from The Open Notebook covers the basics of considering a fellowship, finding the right one for your idea, crafting a winning proposal, and more.  

To help journalists cover rising temperatures, newsrooms need to start with climate literacy

Sahana Ghosh, associate editor at Nature India, describes lessons and takeaways from a workshop that she led to help Indian newsrooms address climate misinformation. "I came away with a strong conclusion: there is a clear need for climate literacy in newsrooms," Ghosh writes. "Without it, journalists cannot counter climate misinformation and disinformation, or provide good information to our audiences."
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Sci Comm Resources — Dan Vahaba

Dan Vahaba is the director of communications at the Duke University Institute for Brain Sciences. He compiled this Google doc full of science writing resources, including articles and books to read, tips about how to pitch, conferences, academic journals, newsletters, and more.

Kavli Conversations on Science Communication at NYU

NYU, The Kavli Foundation

"What happens when leading journalists who cover science and eminent scientists who reach mass audiences get together to exchange ideas? What do their differing perspectives tell us about how science communication is changing and how we can do it better?" Science writers can participate in this ongoing event series either in-person in New York City or online, with videos from past events hosted on the NYU website. The series is sponsored by the Kavli Foundation and the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU.
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Being a Science Journalist

Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT

"So you want to be a science journalist? People arrive at science journalism from all manner of professional backgrounds. Whether you’re a scientist ready for a career change, a journalist interested in specializing in a science-related beat, a student, or a recent graduate, this curated list of resources can help you get started on your journey." Resources include: Breaking In, Learning the Craft, Societies and Conferences, Academic Programs, Internships and Fellowships, Freelancing.

Science Communication in a Crisis: An Insider’s Guide

"If a scientist’s goal is to deliver content and expertise to the people who need it, then other stakeholder groups—the media, the government, industry—need to be considered as partners to collaborate with in order to solve problems. Written by established scientist Christopher Reddy, who has been on the front lines of several environmental crisis events, the book highlights ten specific challenges and reflects on mistakes made and lessons learned... This book will be a great resource for junior and established scientists who want to make an impact, as well as students in courses such as environmental and science communication."
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AAAS Communication Toolkit

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

"This Communication Toolkit provides guidance for scientists to build skills to more effectively communicate and engage with public audiences, including ways to apply the fundamentals of communication to scientific topics. Sections focus on various channels or modes of communication, including online and face-to-face communication."
Resource Database / Guide

SciCommers Community Resources

Boston University

This spreadsheet shares resources and programs from the SciCommers community, a network of undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and industry researchers who are interested in improving their science communication skills. In the database, you can find: links to interviews with expert science writers, a guide to pitching stories, a list of science writing articles, stories by SciCommers, and more.
Resource Database / Guide

The ultimate science writing resource guide

This Medium post by science journalist Shel Evergreen covers the basics of what science writing is, and shares a variety of resources for getting started. The post covers: science writing basics, educational resources, careers, and freelancing. "But I could never find a single source that concisely summed up where to go for questions, resources, jobs, and more," Evergreen writes. "So, I hope this will serve as a useful tool for emerging science writers and seasoned professionals alike."

Ideas into Words: Mastering the Craft of Science Writing

"In Ideas into Words, Elise Hancock, a professional writer and editor with thirty years of experience, provides both novice and seasoned science writers with the practical advice and canny insights they need to take their craft to the next level. Rich with real-life examples and anecdotes, this book covers the essentials of science writing: finding story ideas, learning the science, opening and shaping a piece, polishing drafts, overcoming blocks, and conducting interviews with scientists and other experts who may not be accustomed to making their ideas understandable to lay readers. Hancock's wisdom will prove useful to anyone pursuing nonfiction writing as a career. She devotes an entire chapter to habits and attitudes that writers should cultivate, another to structure, and a third to the art of revision."

How scientists can cope with negativity on social media

SciComm Academy

"Social media can be very powerful tools for scientists who want to engage in science communication. But social media can also be quite a harsh environment, where scientists face a lot of backlash. How can you deal with negativity on social media?" Bert Pieters of Mediawijs, the Flemish knowledge center for digital and media literacy, led this lunchtime virtual lecture, hosted by SciComm Academy.

How scientists can help reporters cover disasters

This interview between journalist Dan Falk and ocean chemist Christopher Reddy discusses what reporters and researchers can do to better work together on covering natural disasters and other scientific events with major impacts. "I’ll tell [colleagues] that journalists and scientists have a lot more in common — we both like to chase, we both like to investigate, and we like to write up what we find, and do it in a clever way, that people leave nourished," Reddy says.