Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

A Guide to Careers in Science Writing

A Guide To Careers in Science Writing

Of all the journalism specialties, science writing may well be the most challenging and rewarding. Science writers cover fields undergoing some of the most rapid advances in history, from stunning advances in genetics and biotechnology to exotic discoveries in astrophysics. 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 daily challenge of accurately translating the often arcane and complex news of such discoveries into lay language makes science writing distinctive. But in addition, science writers also must also attempt to put scientific discoveries and controversies into historical, personal, political, economic, and social context. For example, while science writers have traditionally been faced with balancing the conflicting opinions of scientific experts, they must now also explore the business and financial aspects of science and technology in their reporting equations, especially on the biotechnology beat.

Science writers play an essential role in advancing the social and political conversation about science by communicating an independent assessment of research discoveries. Their reporting can bring exciting news of remarkable scientific achievements to public attention while informing the public about critical issues to aid ethics and policy debates. They also provide the scientific background on breaking news about everything from earthquakes to oil spills and alert the public to medical and environmental risks and dangers.