Khalil A. Cassimally is the community manager of Nature Education and SciLogs.com. He's also a
Many universities have dedicated student-run science publications. Such publications are ideal places for young science writers to work with an editorial team, build up confidence and grow their portfolios. But they are also teasers of what is to come from the emerging generation of science writers.
Periodically, we’ll cover some of those student-run science publications here on The SA Incubator. Today, we look at BlueSci from Cambridge University, UK. BlueSci’s latest issue, their 24th, is packed with great science and also includes a Focus article on the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics. BlueSci publishes contributions from students of undergraduate all the way up to postgraduate level. Some are regulars, others are new enthusiasts. What all contributors have in common however, is their willingness to spread their enthusiasm for science as BlueSci’s editor, Ian Le Guillou, describes.
BlueSci (pronounced blue-sy, blue-sky or blue-ski—I’m still not sure) is the science magazine produced by members of Cambridge University. While we have yet to hear from any professors wanting to write articles, we do have a wide range of people getting involved; from the first year undergraduate keen to share his new-found knowledge through to the PhD student avoiding writing her thesis. BlueSci magazine was formed in 2004 and eight years later it has diversified into news, film, and radio, while magazine Issue 24 has just come off the printing presses. As editor, I’ve seen first-hand that BlueSci relies on dozens of people volunteering their time to write, edit and produce the magazine. Despite this, we are never short of help; there is clearly a strong demand for a science communication platform.
Typically a dozen feature articles are submitted for each issue and five are selected to be published in the magazine. This is often where budding science writers test the water, covering a topic that they know well, either because their research relates to it or they have learnt about it on their course. This is where I found myself just over a year ago, submitting a piece about magnetoreception in birds. In Issue 24 we have feature articles about the development of CPR techniques, the roles of symmetry in science and even computer simulations of relationships! Some writers are happy to have an article published and do no more, while others catch the writing bug and keep coming back to us issue after issue. For them, we have our regulars section where we look at other aspects science, not just novel research but also the people behind it, its role in policy-making and even where science meets the arts. Our latest regulars cover a great range of topics, from the history of contraception to science at the South Pole.
With the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics only a few months away, this seemed like the ideal topic for this issue’s Focus article. Written by a team of four authors, each issue’s Focus has a central theme viewed from different perspectives. In looking at how science pushes the limits of human athletic ability, we covered diet, psychology, equipment and even analysed the Fosbury flop to understand what makes it such a successful technique.
Just as we finish celebrating the launch of our latest issue, we start looking forwards the next issue, our 25th. As tradition dictates, this will be celebrated in a suitable fashion. With articles and interviews from BlueSci alumni, alongside our usual cohort of keen amateurs, it promises to be a bumper issue that will be hard to beat.
Ian Le Guillou
BlueSci Issue Editor