Science writing is undergoing a sort-of rebirth. In the early days of traditional media, like newspapers and broadcast radio and television, scientific writers played an important role in making complicated topics easy to understand.
These writers often found themselves face-to-face with the world’s foremost researchers about new and exciting innovations. Then traditional media began its decline, and the amount of coverage scientific research got dropped.
Today, as the internet has matured, science writing has become an essential part of the journalistic landscape. With so many competing blogs, the speed of social media, and concerns over misinformation in the news, a scientific writer’s role is one of diversity and excitement.
How to Become a Scientific Writer
Some science writers will begin their writing career already having worked in technology, healthcare, biology, and other STEM fields.
If you already have a degree in the field of science, you may be able to build up your writing and editing skills through practice, a fellowship, or with the mentorship of someone you trust. Building up a strong portfolio of projects will help your resume to stand out.
If you have the financial means to return to school, look for a reputable school to get your degree in journalism or communication.
A degree in the sciences, journalism, or communication is not always a requirement. For some positions, you may only need to show that you have experience in a particular field. However, for other roles, demonstrating competence and understanding of various topics, pitch stories, and exceptional writing and editing skills will get you work.
You may also find yourself in unexpected industries, such as working for chemical companies, the medical field, or consumer-facing industries where you might present information about services or individual products. For example, looking at these pages about Curamed and Standard Process, you see a range of different products that may need unique content. So as the writer, you will need to research the ingredients, FDA regulations, and best practices established by the business you are writing for.
Other than education and practice, one of the best things you can do is read science journals. Pay attention to how information is presented, when to simplify the subject matter or use technical language, and if it is appropriate to use metaphors, analogies, or tell a story to get the point across or to persuade the reader.
Being familiar with social media, well-known writers in the industry, and where writing gets published will help you connect with the right people and get work. Finally, publish everywhere you can. Don’t be discouraged when things don’t go well, either.
Popular Career Options
Scientific writers can work freelance for traditional media, like magazines and newspapers, or online publications; you may also contribute to books, research articles, and press releases. This work may be provided by education, government, or private companies.
Here are a few roles you may see when looking for work.
Like journalists in the news media, science journalists gather all of the facts and interview people before writing their story. This content can appear in print, broadcast radio or television, content, or in videos.
The role of someone in science communication is to inform the public or private institutions through promotional information and press releases. This person may vet, compile information, rewrite, and distribute research or other important findings to the right people.
Those who work in scientific research are often the backbone of the industry. They are in an investigative role that may be tasked with conducting the research or directly working with those developing theories and working through experiments. As a writer in this field, you will be tasked with making all of the work done in a research setting consumable by readers in order to inform the public or possibly even to get grant money. Knowing how to present information for news articles, press releases, and education or private institutions is important. This writing may be more technical or topical, depending on the work.
Pursuing a scientific writing career can be quite fulfilling if you are already a writer, but don’t find your current work especially challenging. If you are in a scientific field and want to contribute more to society by sharing information and education, moving into a writing role may be the right move.