Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

Resources for students

Careers in Science Writing

Advice from CASW: A Guide to Careers in Science Writing

Reporting new developments in science and medicine to the general public can be one of the most exciting and fascinating "beats" on any newspaper, radio or television station.

Unlike reporters on other assignments, the science reporter seldom writes the same story twice. Just as each scientific development is a discovery of something the scientists had not known before, each science story is about something neither the reporter nor his/her reader knew before.

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

Science reporters cover some of the most momentous events in human history. Science reporters were the first to tell the public of the splitting of the uranium atom and of the consequent explosion of the first atomic bomb.

Science reporters also covered the discovery of antibiotic "wonder drugs," the first human heart transplant, the launchings of the first artificial satellites, the discovery of the structure of DNA, the first unmanned explorations of other planets, the first genetic engineering experiments, the identification of all human genes, the first cloning of an animal, the discoveries of neutron stars, pulsars and black holes, and the man landings on the moon that helped unravel the history of the solar system, to name just a few of the major science stories of the 20th century.

Science writing today

Today, science writers are employed by not only the mass media but by universities and corporations to write magazine articles, news releases and other reports on research in their respective laboratories. The science writer's job is to monitor what's happening in the research laboratories for developments that might be of interest to his/her readers or viewers.

This is done by attending scientific and medical meetings where researchers hear about advances by their peers, by perusing scientific and medical journals, by reading press releases from universities and corporations, by "surfing" the science-related web sites on the Internet, and by interviewing scientists.