What Makes a Good Science Writer?
Since a science writer will use document preparation tools for most of their work, they must gain expertise in an extensive selection of software applications, including word processing, graphics, audio, video, as well as animation applications. Science writers might take jobs as editors, as well as review the work of other scientific writers. The minimum degree necessary for this profession is a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. Many science authors find that taking college courses in writing and journalism may be helpful. Some may also specialize in “medical writing,” designed primarily to assist pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies with documentation of clinical trials and FDA new drug applications. Some colleges also provide degree programs in science writing or science journalism.
Science writers and editors should be able to convey thoughts clearly and realistically, and must love to write and edit. Science authors and editors should show good judgment, as well as a strong feeling of ethics, in determining when a manuscript is ready for journal submission, in addition to selecting the specific journal most appropriate for the manuscript. Of the many types of specialized writers, the science writer has a distinctive liability to the reader. Unlike the sportswriter, for instance, whose reader already knows, usually in remarkable detail, the rules of the game and who the players are, science writers often introduce readers to a fresh “game” with each article.
Science writers may also perform the difficult job of teasing out scientific details, as well as anecdotes to create an attention-grabbing article, video, or slide pack specifically tailored to attract non-expert, casual readers, or viewers into a subject they mightn’t at first have much interest or knowledge.
Science writers should first understand that effectively communicating the science is the most demanding part of the job. For this purpose, it may be of greater benefit to employ PhD scientists with experience in academic or biotechnology research and previous grant writing and reviewing. They should then write and edit the article for multiple cycles, to maximize its correctness, while also making the work intriguing and intelligible to novices. Good science writers must do their best to accurately report, but they always bear in mind what they may have different priorities for specific readers/audiences that might not align with the researcher’s opinion in attracting the interest of the public. Good science writers continuously read science news, general science journals, books, reports, publications, and Internet news groups to keep abreast of the most recent scientific findings, funding opportunities, and journal criteria and directives. Some work on staffs of national publications and Internet science news providers. Others write for special interest medical and scientific news website/magazines. Most are freelancers, reporting as well as writing for a wide range of media. Some work in broadcast media, which range from network radio and TV news programs to science documentary production companies.
Need an Editor for Your Science Writing?
Bioscience Advising helps scientists both within and outside the United States with writing, editing, or scientific critique of: dissertation papers, academic journal manuscripts, slide packs, biomedical grant applications for the NIH and similar public and private organizations, abstracts, and letters.
We also tailor the work to be understandable and enjoyable by individuals of all skill levels, including principal investigators, post-doctoral associates, research fellows, other scientists, and even laypersons.