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Introducing: Scicurious Guest Writers!

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

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In my many travels as a science blogger, I have run across many young scientists who are in the position I was in when I started my blog: unsure, wanting to get writing experience and try something new, but not having any idea how to begin. When I was first starting out, I was lucky enough to get pointed in the direction of Bora Zivkovic, and the rest of that is history. But Bora can’t be everywhere (though he is most places!), and the science blogsphere is a much bigger (and possibly more intimidating!) place than it was when I began. And what about people who want to try their hand at writing now? How do they learn how to write for those who aren’t scientists, how to make the dry, passive voice into the fascinating and amazing stuff that all scientists feel it to be?

Well, you can start by practicing!

I would like to announce the beginning of my own Scicurious Guest Writing series! If you are a young (or old!) scientist, interested in trying science writing, and wanting to find out how to begin, this is for you! I would like to lend some of my “expertise” (well, at least I’ve been doing it a while) to helping other scientists work on communicating science via social media. Each month, I will feature a guest writer for one piece on the blog, here at The Scicurious Brain. That writer will work with me prior to the posting of the piece, going through several drafts and producing what may be their first piece of science writing.

If you decide you want to try this, what will you get? You will get experience in writing for the public, with me to help mentor you through it. We’ll work on tone, specificity, background, story, etc. When your piece is posted, I’ll help you talk it up, and hopefully you’ll get to see some great comments on your work, and add a line to your CV! If you really enjoy your experience and decide you want start your own blog, I will also be glad to help you out. I can help you with some minor technical bits, and help you begin to build a network. And of course, I’ll tell you to talk yourself up!

What do I get? Well, mostly I get a lot of editing. But I also get the satisfaction of knowing that I’m passing on what I’ve learned, and that I’m helping other scientists get in to science writing in what will (hopefully) be a positive experience.

So would you like to be a Scicurious Guest Writer? If so, please send me (scicurious [at] gmail [dot] com):
a. your CV (if you’re a young student and don’t have one yet, now’s a great time!)
b. ideas for papers you would like to cover, what you would like to convey about them, and why you find them interesting.

If you are a student or trainee, it would be wise to get the approval of your advisor or lab head, to make sure they know what you’re up to. If you would like to post under a pseudonym, I’m open to that as well (obviously), and would be glad to keep your name from publication.

If you’re thinking about it, but unsure of what to expect, here are the guidelines that I’ve developed:
1. Cover 1 paper or one small topic. Not a mini-review or group of papers. This is because…
2. You have 1000 words. 2000 words if you pick a topic rather than a paper. Writing on the internet is often about being concise as well as being clear, and this is good practice.
3. The paper or topic must be agreed upon by both of us. This is my chance to make sure you’re not going to be a creationist or something.
4. You have a time limit. As a blogger, I often work on very short turnarounds, and have seen the phrase “well, how about yesterday?” more than once. Since it’s your first time, you won’t have it QUITE that bad, but I will expect the first draft within two weeks, and a publication ready piece two weeks after the first draft.
5. Keep in mind: I will be choosy. This is my blog, and I get to choose who I would like to work with. I will inform you immediately, however, if I don’t think that we can work well together..

I hope this helps, and I hope that some of you will contact me about guest writing! I’d be thrilled to help some writers get on their way!

Tomorrow, Scicurious is proud to announce the first of the Scicurious Guest Bloggers! She’s the first guinea pig, and I think she’s done a fabulous job. Make sure to check back for her post, and give her some feedback on her work!

UPDATE: Thank you so much for the overwhelming response!!! It’s been lovely to see how many people are interested in trying out science writing! I’m glad to help as many as I can, but please be advised that at this time Guest Writers are booked through the spring of 2014. I will put up another post asking for writers at the beginning of 2014 and will be glad to take more people then. Thanks again! I’m so pleased by how many awesome people are out there!

Scicurious About the Author: Scicurious is a PhD in Physiology, and is currently a postdoc in biomedical research. She loves the brain. And so should you. Follow on Twitter @Scicurious.

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

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  1. 1. keelyellenmarie 5:52 pm 11/27/2012

    Oh yay!

    I’ll probably be putting forth my CV and such… but sometime after the holidays. I have a master’s thesis to write and I still have to get my students through finals.

    Glad to see you doing this though. I’ve always appreciated Bora’s efforts in this regard. It’s interesting though… it feels to me as if there is less and less space for new writers on the scene as fresh classes of students are flowing out of the writing programs year after year, and the whole business-model-of-journalism-in-the-age-of-the-web thing is still shaking itself out… and yet, opportunities for getting noticed seem to be more prevalent, not less. I’ve been telling myself for at least 4 years that I’ve missed the boat and have nothing to add with so many people already producing great work… but somehow these people are finding audiences. Clearly my pessimism is far more based in my own lack of confidence rather than in reality.

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  2. 2. annasandoiu 8:21 pm 11/27/2012

    This sounds insanely awesome! I know you said science students, but is there a chance you could take in someone who just finished Philosophy?? I’m obsessed with neuroscience & cognitive science and read extensively on the connections between neuroscience & empathy/ethics and been dreaming to become a science journalist for a while now!! Your reply would be much appreciated, thanks!!

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  3. 3. commentator 3:01 am 11/28/2012

    Sci, that’s fantastic! Thanks for doing this. I will share with students in my program.

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  4. 4. Malcolmx87 2:04 am 12/10/2012

    i was about to compose an email when i saw the update: booked through the spring of 2014..


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