What is a science writer?
Science writers research, write and edit articles on scientific topics for a range of audiences. There are opportunities within scientific, peer-reviewed journals, but also within popular science magazines like National Geographic. You’ll write personal pieces, news articles or in-depth essays, and could even find yourself interviewing prominent scientists. When you’re not writing articles, you’ll be making connections with industry experts, editing pieces, or perhaps getting involved in communications.
What are the typical responsibilities of a science writer?
Specific responsibilities depend on your employer, and the type of piece you’re writing. With that in mind, general responsibilities include: attending academic and press conferences, conducting interviews with industry experts, producing articles for publication before deadlines, discussing with colleagues the content of a publication, editing work in response to editorial feedback, and selecting artwork to accompany articles.
What is life like as a science writer?
As a science writer, you’ll spend most of your time in the office. However, to meet with clients and attend conferences, travel is common. There may even be opportunities for international travel. You can be employed by one organisation, or work on a freelance basis. Freelance science writers pitch articles to a range of science publications, and may end up providing articles for specific organisations on a regular basis. Although the pay of freelancers is irregular, the flexibility and scope of organisations is an advantage.
What skills do I need to be a successful science writer?
To be a science writer, you’ll need excellent written and verbal communication skills, to write compelling articles and share them with industry experts. A proven interest in science is also vital, as well as good time management skills to ensure that you complete your work before deadlines. Perseverance and resilience are also vital, as it’s important not to feel disheartened when a pitch is rejected or you receive negative feedback.
How do I become a science writer?
There are two possible routes to enter the field: moving from a science career into writing, or moving from journalism to specialist science writing. Some science writers have a science degree, while others are trained journalists looking to specialise in science writing. If you're interested in further education, a postgraduate qualification could help you gain some practical skills. There are science writers who don't have a degree, but instead started out from entry-level positions or publishing content online.
No matter which route you choose, you’ll need a portfolio of work to demonstrate your writing skills to employers. Work experience can be found at universities (student newspapers) and media organisations, or you could even start your own blog. A journalism apprenticeship is a great way to gain paid work experience and a fully-funded journalism qualification, with media organisations like the BBC and Channel 4 hiring apprentices.