JHU alum and freelance writer Richard Sima shares his resources for transitioning from bench to byline.
In April, ReVision and Project Bridge held a workshop centered on writing for general audiences. Richard Sima, PhD, an alumnus of the JHU Neuroscience graduate program and freelance writer, shared his experience transitioning from research to journalism. For those who want to follow in his footsteps, here is Sima’s list of resources to ease the transition from the world of science to that of science writing.
Getting started in science writing:
The Open Notebook (http://theopennotebook.com/) – great online resource for science writers
How to break into science writing: https://www.theopennotebook.com/2013/07/30/ask-ton- breakinginto-science-writing/
Stories about how science writers got started (compiled by Ed Yong): http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/07/29/on-the-origin-of-science- writers/#comment-12338
A note to beginning science writers (by Carl Zimmer): https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2013/06/24/a-note-to-beginning- science-writers/
Tips for scientists→science writers: https://gsas.columbia.edu/blog/5-tips-scientists-who-want- become-science-writers
Resources for pitching stories:
Advice on pitching: https://www.theopennotebook.com/2012/01/04/how-not-to-pitch/
Pitch Database (great for getting a sense of pitch emails that worked): https://www .theopennotebook.com/pitches/
Places that publish science stories:
An extensive list by Robin Lloyd: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1auCFsMESQ0U3DdyxP4lx1NSC1gGfzYghqnOJr3CYX9 E/edit
Make sure to look at each outlet’s submission guide (if they have one).
Helpful organizations to join (many typically have student memberships):
National Association of Science Writers: https://www.nasw.org/
D.C. Science Writers Association (DCSWA): https://dcswa.org/ Council for the Advancement of Science Writing: http://www.casw.org/
Society of Environmental Journalists: https://www.sej.org/
Association of Health Care Journalists: https://healthjournalism.org/
There are also organizations for underrepresented minorities in journalism:
- Asian American Journalists Association
- National Association of Black Journalists
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- National Center on Disability and Journalism
- Native American Journalists Association
- NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
- South Asian Journalists Association
- Trans Journalists Association
- Women’s Media Center EurekAlert for getting press releases before papers are published (only journalists): https://www .eurekalert.org/
Programs for transitioning into science writing:
AAAS Mass Media Fellowship: https://www.aaas.org/fellowships/mass-media/about
Partial lists of (science) writing internships: https://www.poynter.org/educators-students/2018/here-are-more-than-100-journalism- internships-and-fellowships/
https://sciwrite.org/ https://ncf.nci.nih.gov/ https://www.researchamerica.org/about-us/careers/science-communications-internship- sponsored-burroughs-wellcome-fund
Science writing programs:
UC Santa Cruz
Johns Hopkins University
The Science Writers’ Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age.
A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers.
The Craft of Science Writing: Selections from The Open Notebook