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Topic: Science writing example
Article

How ProPublica journalists reported on cancer-causing industrial air pollution

"ProPublica journalists Al Shaw and Lisa Song sifted through tons of data to deliver “Poison in the Air,” an award-winning reporting series in which they — alongside fellow reporters Lylla Younes, Ava Kofman, Maya Miller, and photographer Kathleen Flynn — identify hundreds of industrial air pollution cancer-risk hot spots across the U.S. using publicly available EPA data. They even corrected reporting errors by the agency. "In this 'How I Did It,' Shaw and Song discuss their reporting approach for this series and offer tips to fellow journalists interested in covering industrial cancer risk."
Science writing example

The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works.

CASW

This multimedia article explores the James Webb Space Telescope’s extensive backstory and profiles scientists working on the $10 billion project. The article earned Quanta Magazine the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting. Natalie Wolchover, senior editor at Quanta, was the story’s lead author.
Science writing example

The Stargazers

CASW

In this feature for Science magazine, freelance science journalist Joshua Sokol describes how Indigenous Maya are working with Western scholars to understand the ancient Maya astronomy buried by Spanish colonists hundreds of years ago. Sokol has won awards from CASW, the American Astronomical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Geophysical Union.
Newsletter

Smart, useful, science stuff about COVID-19

Freelance science writer and editor Robin Lloyd's COVID-19 newsletter, which ran from spring 2020 through fall 2022, regularly shared science writing about the pandemic. The newsletter's archive offers a wealth of great articles covering all aspects of COVID-19.
Resource Database / Guide

Science fiction stories with good astronomy & physics

"This is a selective list of some short stories and novels that use reasonably accurate science and can be used for teaching or reinforcing astronomy or physics concepts. The titles of short stories are given in quotation marks; only short stories that have been published in book form or are available free on the Web are included. While one book source is given for each short story, note that some of the stories can be found in other collections as well." The latest version of the list, published in January 2024, includes 88 links to published stories that are available for free online.
Science writing example

Meet the scientist at the center of the covid lab leak controversy

CASW

Jane Qiu, an independent science writer based in Beijing, won a 2022 AAAS Kavli Award for this profile of virologist Shi Zhengli, a central figure in the global debate about how the COVID-19 pandemic began. The story was also featured during a plenary session at ScienceWriters2022 discussing the coronavirus’ origins.
Annotated story

Storygram: B. “Toastie” Oaster’s “Pacific lamprey’s ancient agreement with tribes is the future of conservation”

The Open Notebook

"In October 2022, Indigenous affairs journalist B. “Toastie” Oaster wrote a High Country News feature about the fate of Pacific lamprey. This lushly written story explores how Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest are working to conserve a culturally important species in the face of dam construction, mismanagement, and climate change. Oaster combined research into the region’s Indigenous history and ecological knowledge with talented storytelling. The result? A beautifully crafted narrative feature about the past and future of Pacific lamprey, told through the lens of Indigenous ecological knowledge, that challenges readers to think about science research—and science journalism—more critically."
Science writing example

The Plague Years: How the rise of right-wing nationalism is jeopardizing the world’s health

CASW

Maryn McKenna, senior writer at WIRED and a widely published author, won CASW’s Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting in 2023 for her coverage of infectious diseases and global health. This story from her extensive freelance portfolio was featured in a “Story Behind the Story” session at ScienceWriters2023.
Science writing example

A field at a crossroads: Genetics and racial mythmaking

CASW

Ashley Smart, senior editor at Undark, associate director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and CASW’s treasurer, won a 2023 NASW Science and Society award for this story. His “tour de force,” as the judges described it, weaves a narrative from a devastating mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, to the history of population genetics and its ties to racism. This story was featured in a “Story Behind the Story” session at ScienceWriters2023.
Science writing example

The Forgotten Continent

CASW

In this story, freelance science writer Jane Qiu explores how fossil finds in China — dating back to the Peking Man, found in 1929 — have challenged established ideas about human evolution. Her story won an AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award in 2016.
Science writing example

Lowcountry on the Edge

CASW

Tony Bartelme’s series about how climate change has impacted the South Carolina Lowcountry won an award from the American Geophysical Union in 2017. Showcase hosts one of these stories. Bartelme, a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is a special projects reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.
Video

Excellent science writing

Dragon Con

This panel discussion from Dragon Con 2022 includes science communicator Rae Pendergrass, science journalist Bethany Brookshire, chemist Raychelle Burks, scientist and blogger Danielle Lee, and science consultant Joseph Meany. "From feature articles to explainers to books to podcasts, there's more excellent science writing than ever before. We'll talk about what goes into good science writing and point you towards excellent examples that will expand your knowledge."
Science writing example

Alive Inside

CASW

Mike Hixenbaugh’s story on efforts by a Houston hospital to restore patients with severe brain injuries won an AAAS Kavli award in 2018. The story weaves personal narrative with scientific exploration, discussing how scientists are working to revive patients and the ethical quandaries that they face. Hixenbaugh is an investigative reporter focused on exposing fraud and abuse in health care.
Science writing example

The Smoke Comes Every Year. Sugar Companies Say the Air Is Safe.

CASW

This feature is the central story of Black Snow, a series by ProPublica and The Palm Beach Post investigating the health impacts – and government failures – of burning sugar cane among poor communities in Florida. Lulu Ramadan (formerly at The Palm Beach Post, now an investigative reporter at The Seattle Times) and ProPublica journalists Ash Ngu, Maya Miller, and Nadia Sussman won several awards for the series, including a Kavli Award, an Online News Association award, and KSJ at MIT’s Victor K. McElheny Award.
Science writing example

Battle of the Ash Borer

CASW

Matthew Miller’s story about scientists’ efforts to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer won an AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award in 2015. The story focuses on research and conservation efforts in Lansing, Michigan, where the Lansing State Journal is based.
Science writing example

The Quantum Source of Space-Time

CASW

Ron Cowen’s story about the entanglement of fundamental particles won an award from the American Institute of Physics in 2016. The story profiles researchers whose discoveries helped to connect quantum mechanics and the study of gravity. Cowen is a freelance science writer who specializes in physics and astronomy.
Science writing example

The Ultimate Sacrifice

CASW

This story by Ann Gibbons covers research into human sacrifice, spanning different locations and research teams. Gibbons, who was a contributing correspondent for Science magazine at the time, won a National Academies Keck Future Initiative Communication award in 2013 for the story.
Science writing example

What Happened to the Poster Children of OxyContin?

CASW

This story — one in a series on financial conflicts of interest in medical research — was part of a package that won CASW’s Victor Cohn Prize in 2013 for John Fauber, who has been the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s medical reporter since 1996. As of 2019, Ellen Gabler is an investigative reporter at The New York Times.
Resource Database / Guide

Epic list of math communicators

"There is an abundance of amazing channels, websites, and organizations dedicated to making math accessible and engaging. So I decided to compile a list of over 100 math communication resources," list author Suzza Silver writes. Silver includes videos, podcasts, books, articles, websites, and more. The list is built in Notion, so users of the web app can make their own copy of the list.
Science writing example

SciShortform: Home of the Best Shortform Science Writing Project

SciShortform published quarterly roundups of exemplary shortform science writing from 2016 through 2020. The volunteer judges highlighted stories in the categories: Short-Shorts, News/Data/Investigative, Single-Study Deep Dives, Essays/Op-eds/Blog posts, Institutional, among others. Some iterations of the project were funded by a NASW Idea Grant.
Resource Database / Guide

PerCientEx Project – Excellence and innovation in science journalism in Latin America

PerCientEx Project

[Translated from Spanish] "The 'PerCientEx Observatory' of scientific journalism is a research project that collects and disseminates examples of quality journalism in Spanish, published in digital written press or digital versions of print media, in the Ibero-American sphere. In our database you will find innovative and high-quality articles on science, technology, health and the environment."
Science writing example

Started out as a fish. How did it end up like this?

CASW

This story, which drew attention across social media for its catchy headline and meme-worthy subject, was one of four articles that led Sabrina Imbler to win CASW’s Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for young science journalists in 2022. Imbler wrote the story as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and is now a writer on the creature beat at Defector.
Science writing example

A room, a bar and a classroom: How the coronavirus is spread through the air

CASW

This visual story, published by the Spanish-language newspaper El País, provides an overview of COVID-19 risk in indoor spaces and how different safety measures may help, based on an estimation tool developed by atmospheric chemist José Luis Jiménez. Co-authors Mariano Zafra and Javier Salas won a AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award, an Ortega y Gasset award, and a Malofiej award for the story in 2021.
Resource Database / Guide

Resources related to science writing and communications

A collection of links on getting started in science writing, examples of exemplary writing, career advice, writing advice, and more resources from Rachel Coker at Binghamton University.
Annotated story

Storygram: Jane Qiu’s “Trouble in Tibet”

CASW, The Open Notebook

Jane Qiu is an independent science writer based in Beijing. She won a AAAS Kavli award in 2016 for this story about environmental issues in Tibet. This annotation was done by Mara Hvistendahl. The Storygram series, in which professional writers annotate award-winning stories to illuminate what makes a great science story great, was a joint project of The Open Notebook and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. It was supported by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.