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Tips: Practical Guides On How To Do Science Journalism By SciDev.net

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Tips is a series which aims to provide young and early-career science writers with, well, tips to aid them in their budding careers. The series will attempt to link out to existing resources available online.

SciDev.net has a comprehensive list of helpful “practical guides.” They cover the basics, such as how to become a science journalist and how to write a science story to much more focused ones like how to communicate statistics, how to report a natural disaster and how to explain controversial issues, to mention but a few.

I’m ashamed to say that I only got to know about SciDev.net this year. It gets even more embarrassing when you consider that I come from, and currently reside, in a developing country (you can now guess what the “Dev” in SciDev.net stands for). But now that SciDev.net has been safely followed on Twitter and its website surfed, I can confirm that I’ve really been missing out. Not only is it a source of news that you probably won’t find elsewhere on popular science websites (such as this blog’s host), it also produces numerous guides on how to do science journalism.

SciDev.net stands for Science and Development Network. It is a “not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world.” Content-wise, SciDev.net focuses on providing science news emanating from developing countries. But a small part of their website is dedicated to preaching science journalism.

Under “Practical Guides,” one of the many links in its sidebar, you will find a list of guides on how to do science journalism. Some of the guides have wider focuses (“How to write about your science” and “Using research findings to better write stories”) while others have much narrower focuses (“How to report a disease outbreak or pandemic,” “Progress or PR? How to report clinical trials” and “Navigating science PR in African institutions”).

I haven’t read all the guides but the ones I have read are excellent. SciDev.net’s latest practical guide, Using digital tools for journalism, published two weeks ago, is representative of the mix. It’s thoroughly researched, simply written and immensely helpful. The guide is a comprehensive list of digital tools for journalists with relevant links and paragraph-lengthed descriptions. The guide goes to great length to present some popular tools that may be helpful at the various stages of reporting. To gather news, the guide suggests using Google Alerts and Twitter. For research organisation, Evernote, Dropbox, Dipity, Pinterest, Storify are mentioned. To publish your work, the guide mentions the ubiquitous Blogger and WordPress. But it goes further still. It lists some tools appropriate to work on audio, video and photo as well as a couple for fact-checking! This guide is a good representation of the others I’ve read from SciDev.net.

Also, most of the guides are available in three languages, English, French and Spanish, with a few also available in Chinese.

If you’re a budding science writer, do check SciDev.net’s practical guides. They cover such a variety of topics that you’re bound to find something that can help you with that latest assignment of yours.

Here are just a few of the practical guides on SciDev.net:

How to write about your science
How do I become a science journalist
Planning and writing a science story
Using research findings to better write stories
How do I convey science to teens and twenty-somethings?
Communicating statistics and risk
How to make a science news story for radio?
How to report a disease outbreak or pandemic
Explaining controversial issues to the media and the public
Progress or PR? How to report clinical trials
Navigating science PR in African institutions

View the entire list over at SciDev.net here.

Khalil A. Cassimally About the Author: Khalil A. Cassimally is the Community Coordinator of The Conversation UK. He's also a science blogger. He hails from a tropical island and is a happy geek. Subscribe to his updates on Facebook and Google+. Follow on Twitter @notscientific.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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