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Monday, December 19, 2005

Science Writing Query

Here's an email query I received recently along with my reply (I've not included any details of the sender, to preserve his privacy). Obviously I'm not an expert in this field, so if any science writers out there have any additional ideas, please feel free to post them as comments!
I have a daughter at university just finishing a PhD in social psychology. She is being advised to look into a career of science-based writing. I'd be grateful if you have any ideas/suggestions, etc as to how she could get into this niche.

My reply was as follows: I have to say I'm probably not the best person to ask about this, not being a science writer myself. However, my first comment would be that as soon as possible your daughter should start researching training opportunities with science magazines such as New Scientist and scientific publishing houses such as Blackwell.

I'm afraid I don't know exactly what training schemes are on offer for science writers, but a few emails and/or phone calls should soon unearth some possibilities. The National Union of Journalists ( would be another resource well worth trying.

I would add that this is a very competitive field, and any relevant experience your daughter has (e.g. editing a university science magazine) will be important. She must also expect to start on a very modest salary, maybe even just a training allowance.

I would NOT recommend that your daughter starts off by trying to launch herself as a freelance science writer. At her age it would be far better, I think, to get some solid experience under her belt working as a science writer or journalist for a scientific magazine or book publisher. Over time this will also help her develop a range of useful contacts, which should stand her in good stead if she ever decides to go freelance.

One professional science writer I do know is Ray Girvan, who writes for New Scientist and other magazines and newspapers. You should be able to contact him via his website at This is actually a very interesting resource for science writers (and others) in its own right.



Blogger ScienceGypsy said...

Two science writing programs in U.S. -- one at U.C. Santa Cruz, another at MIT. She should check into these immediately!

5:13 PM  

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