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"alternative" careers, writing

Musings on the scope of science writing

I am still at an early stage in my quest to understand all the various things that a science writer can do. I am using the term science writer in the loosest possible sense – just stating that for the record so as to avoid inadvertently offending anyone. It seems to me that a science writer can and might include journalists, bloggers, book authors, medical writers, communication specialists, and probably others that are not immediately coming to mind.

I was perusing the website of the National Association of Science Writers today and came across this fantastic discussion entitled “Advice for beginning science writers”. Some of the issues explored in the discussion include the following:

How to get a start as a science writer.
What training does a science writer need?
How and whether to make the transition from scientist to science writer.
How to advise somebody making that transition.
The distinction between science journalism and science writing.

It reminded me of some recent blog posts I’d come across on science writing and journalism. One is by Ed Yong, research blogger of the year (2010), entitled “The value of ‘this is cool’ science stories”. It references Colin Schultz who has a post on how to be a science journalist and has interviewed a number of people in the field of science writing/journalism, including with Ed Yong himself.

Lots of terrific, thought-provoking stuff here. Still figuring out what it all means for me and my constantly evolving career goals.

Here’s a tangentially related question: would you consider the preparation and writing of patents or regulatory documents to be science writing? Or is this kind of writing perhaps so specialized and formulaic that it falls under its own category? (Formulaic is not my description;that’s what Wikipedia calls regulatory medical writing.)

[Note 08/11/2010: The original title of this post was “Science writing, journalism, communication, etc.” It didn’t adequately convey what I was trying to address in this post, so I’ve modified the title.]

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