Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

Careers in science writing

Advice from CASW

Reporting new developments in science to the general public can be one of the most exciting and fascinating "beats" in journalism. Science reporters have had the privilege of covering some of the most momentous events in human history. In the 21st century, science is the driver of progress and of controversy on many fronts—especially in medicine, environment, and technology. Journalists play a critical role in interpreting science and holding it accountable as a powerful institution.

Furthermore, science and technology play a part in almost every contemporary human story. A writer skilled at asking good questions about science and interpreting technical facts well can make a valuable contribution to civic dialogue anywhere in the world.

VIDEO: Dave Perlman offers advice to aspiring science journalists in an interview with Cris Russell April 17, 2009

CASW has created CASW Showcase, a rich curated collection of award-winning science journalism, as a tool for inspiration and self-education. For a deep dive into how award-winning writers do their work, the site includes Storygrams, annotations of great stories by professional writers, examining just what makes great science writing so compelling. CASW Showcase also includes an extensive list of science writing career resources.

Opportunities for careers in science journalism have changed considerably since CASW's guide to science writing careers, a popular feature of this website, was last updated in 2011. Today many science journalists do their work on a freelance basis, part of the fast-evolving "gig economy."

Given the fluid nature of the field, CASW is discontinuing its career guide, which would likely become obsolete again soon after an update. We recommend that prospective and novice science writers join a professional organization to keep up to date, and subscribe to the articles and newsletters published by The Open NotebookTON is a nonprofit organization that provides tools and resources to help science, environmental, and health journalists at all experience levels sharpen their skills.

TON has created "collections" of articles on its site. For beginning writers, we recommend "Getting Started in Science Journalism" and "Using Narrative to Tell Science Stories."

Some advice is timeless. We recommend that all would-be science writers check out David Perlman's advice in this video interview from 2009.

And here are a few classic references.