The SA Incubator

The SA Incubator

The next generation of science writers and journalists.

Tips: Practical Guides On How To Do Science Journalism By


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. 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 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 stands for). But now that 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. 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, 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.’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

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’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

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 here.

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

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