8 tips for wanna-be science writers

Here are some handy tips to help with your Science Today application:

  1. Do not enter with an abstract for an academic paper.
  2. Focus on one issue, the aspect of your research that made you get into science in the first place.
  3. Make sure that you have a “so what?” paragraph. A “so what?” paragraph is where you explain why your audience should care about your research.
  4. In journalism, we usually start with the conclusion of the research (rather than the introduction, as in an academic article).
  5. Avoid using “I” and “one”. That’s not to say that you can’t ever use them in popular science writing, but they are to be handled with extreme caution.
  6. Jargon is the kryptonite of popular science writing: readers often find it off-putting and intimidating. Jargon is an effective way to stop people reading almost immediately, and the thing that we want as writers is to keep people hooked and reading. But the embargo on jargon doesn’t mean that you must assume that your reader is a child or an idiot, either: rather think that you’re explaining a scientific concept to a friend who is not a scientist.
  7. You don’t have to reference in the way that you do in a scientific article (which is good because it saves you a few words in your 1000-word word count).
  8. Remember: you are trying to get our attention. Your submission will be one of many, and you must show us why your field of research and your story should be included in Science Today.

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