If you're not finding that your prose comes easily and don't feel a real compulsion to write about science, keep looking; you'll find your calling. In some ways, scientific training is poor preparation for a career as a science writer.
The problem is that science as it is usually practiced and communicated is just too narrow to serve the needs of a typical audience. As a scientist you learn to care deeply about tiny details that general readers care little about; even scientists working in related fields may not find the details of your work compelling. Yet, scientists with a broad perspective are often viewed with suspicion by their peers. And then there is the matter of science's conspicuously compact and jargon-laden language, which is, perhaps, the most efficient means of communicating with other experts but is a lousy way to tell a good story.
One other point that works against you: This resentment wouldn't be a problem were it not for the fact that some of these people go on to become editors, and will, therefore, be reading your queries critically and evaluating your credentials. You will get a fair reading, almost always, but don't expect any special favors.
Is there merit to the charge that you are taking their profession too lightly? Science writing is indeed a profession full of dedicated individuals doing difficult, painstaking work, and doing it brilliantly. The most accomplished science writers deserve just as much respect as the most accomplished scientists. No one should take this profession lightly, or enter it on a whim. Yet, many successful science writers chose science writing as an alternative career, on the rebound from the bench, or just stumbled into it.
If you're serious and capable, you can do it, too. Is there any advantage, then, to having an advanced degree in science? There's a trend, especially at high-end journals aimed at scientists, toward hiring advanced-degreed scientists who also happen to be very good writers with excellent training and experience.
If you already have top-notch writing skills, an advanced degree in science is a strong credential, even if it's not an essential or a terribly time-efficient one. But there's another good reason why advanced scientific training is advantageous: Some people in this profession make a distinction between science writers -- whose job is to clearly and accurately describe interesting science in plain language -- and science journalists -- whose job is to get to the bottom of a story, to figure out what's really going on behind the scenes, who the main players are, and what the real "scoop" is.
Unless you happen to be writing about your narrow specialty -- which probably won't happen nearly often enough to make a career -- your scientific training won't help you much to become a better science writer.
But scientific training will help you be a better journalist. Many of the old salts among today's science writers started out as journalists then switched over to the science beat after acquiring a measure of reportorial savvy, and that's what makes them good science writers.
Many of the skills of science and journalism are very similar. If during the bench-science phase of your career you manage to make yourself into an effective researcher, then those same aptitudes -- especially a healthy skepticism and a belief that every problem has a solution -- will make you a better journalist.
You won't be satisfied with describing surfaces when there's something deeper to explore. This paperback is the best resource I know for aspiring science writers. It includes advice on writing queries and on many other topics. You may want to wait though; a new edition is due out soon. Winning any type of writing award or prize will make you to stand out from the crowd and could help launch your career.
Science writers are employed by national and local newspapers, as well as by magazines, journals and websites. Many titles are owned by large newspaper groups at international, national or regional level.
Recent years have seen many takeovers and acquisitions - to check the latest facts and figures and lists of daily and weekly newspapers within the UK, see News Media Association. For a wider range of specialist magazines that provide employment opportunities, see media. Science professional associations, research institutes and companies, universities and charities sometimes employ science writers to write for their newsletters and websites.
If you are interested in freelance science writing, send your article proposal to a science editor at a relevant publication along with a copy of your CV. It is important to address your correspondence to a named person. Find out more about writing a successful CV and cover letter.
Training differs greatly and depends on the organisation. Trainees within large newspaper and magazine organisations normally receive formal training. After an initial probationary period, most trainee journalists follow basic journalism training under the terms of a training contract.
Writers working for smaller and non-media organisations will likely receive informal, on-the-job training. This includes receiving feedback from editors, peers and clients, and learning from more experienced colleagues.
In general, writers must be open minded, able to accept criticism and willing to make changes to their writing style. As a writer, you'll also learn to improve your writing through regularly reading the work of other good scientific communicators.
It is important to keep up to date with any advances in the science industry. Attending science-related conferences and gaining membership to any relevant professional bodies are a way of maintaining an ongoing knowledge of the industry. Many trainees begin their career working in local media or publications with a small audience. After building up their portfolio, writers can aim to work for larger media organisations with a wider audience.
Many senior journalists and correspondents freelance across print, broadcast and online journalism and some go on to write science books. After several years, writers can try to move to more senior editorial roles. Career advancement at all stages depends on ability, performance and initiative. Writers who want to advance should seek out every opportunity to get a good article in front of an editor and preferably published by a respected organisation.
It is vitally important to network with fellow professionals in order to advertise your name and abilities to colleagues, both in person by attending events and calling people and online. Many science writers find that Twitter and LinkedIn are useful tools for online networking. A great source of information for all working journalists is the National Union of Journalists NUJ , which offers the chance to network with others in the profession. Membership can provide access to industry contacts, advice on freelance pay and information on key events and news, which can all help with networking and progression.
A move to other types of science writing is a possibility. For example, science information officers work for universities, private research foundations, government agencies and laboratories, technology corporations, science and technology museums, charities and non-profit science and health organisations. The main duties include preparing press releases and other materials explaining research at their institutions and aiding science journalists in preparing stories on that research.
Science writers can also move into technical or medical writing. Medical writers are a specific type of science writer working for pharmaceutical companies, contract research organisations CROs and communications agencies.
They document and communicate scientific research for the purposes of:. Writers may wish to move into production, working on page layout and headlines as a sub-editor. Those with relevant skills can move into related occupations in broadcast journalism, either as a researcher, reporter or presenter. Opportunities are likely to increase as digital media expands, while print media opportunities may decline.
Jobs and work experience Postgraduate study Careers advice Applying for university. Search graduate jobs Job profiles Work experience and internships Employer profiles What job would suit me? Mary McMahon Edited By: Wallace Last Modified Date: This Day in History. The Star Spangled Banner poem was written. You might also Like. What is Information Science?
What does a Seismologist do? What is an Exploration Geologist? How do I Become a Science Writer? What is a Bachelor of Applied Science? What is Soft Science? Discuss this Article browncoat Post 4 clintflint - It does depend on what you eventually want to do though. I had a friend who really wanted to do this, but he didn't really have the right qualifications. Please enter the code: Login username password forgot password? Register username password confirm email.
A science writer's week may include coverage of new discoveries about viruses, the brain, evolution, artificial intelligence, planets around other suns, and global climate change and its environmental impact, to name only a few topics.
The science writer reports directly to the college's director of marketing and communication. The science writer will serve as the College of Education's lead University of North Carolina - 20 days ago - save job - more.
Science writers may not even work for traditional outlets, but may be independent bloggers or bloggers affiliated with the web sites of magazines or other media. Much of a writer’s time may be spent using social media tools to filter breaking science news and interact directly with audiences. Science Writer is a free web-based instructional tool that supports students through the process of writing a science report with organizational supports, explicit strategy instruction and scaffolds.
Science writers cover fields which are undergoing rapid advances and changes, giving them the chance to report on exciting and ground-breaking developments. Science writers research, write and edit scientific news, articles and features. Science writers can work on several different kinds of projects, like scientific bulletins, advertising, and articles for science magazines, but ultimately their job is to make science .