We are eager for submissions for our blog regardless of whether you are a scientist or not, or even if you haven’t studied science. We particularly encourage our volunteers to submit blog pieces based either from their background or their volunteer experiences within the BSA. It is also a great way to develop your science communication skills whether you intend to stay within academia or not.
We welcome the following topics as blog pieces with the only condition that it is scientific:
- Summaries of events (e.g. public engagement events)
- A profile about someone in science
- Your research or scientific subject of choice that you feel passionate about
- Book reviews
However if you can think of another type of blog piece not listed here that you want to write about, do please get in touch. We ask that you please follow the below guidelines. Also good writing in science communication can make or break an article, but it is also something that takes practise. Therefore apart from the basic guidelines, below are some writing and research/ planning tips that can help you. This list is by no means exhaustive and if you can think of any hints and tips to help others in writing about science, then do get in touch and let us know!
- Use a word processing document with a type font of either Times New Roman or Arial font size 12 with no line spacing and use British-English.
- The word count can be anywhere in between 500-1000. But if you go longer than 600 words, make sure to break up your piece into different sections/ paragraphs.
- You will need to email the blog editor to tell them in advance what topic you intend to write about. This is only to ensure that we don’t have duplicate submissions. If there is a duplicate submission I will ask the second writer to give their piece a new angle.
1) Identify what type of article/piece you are writing and determine your audience.
Think carefully about the type of story you want to write about and who you are writing this for. Is it a summary of a public engagement event telling both other volunteers and the public about the event? Is it a book recommendation? As this is a science communication/ public engagement organisation, most of the time your audience will be the public, so you need to keep this in mind when writing your piece.
2) Determine why you are writing about this.
You might need to specify why you are writing this piece. Tell people that you are providing a summary of an event or a book. What makes this event worthy of attending and therefore your article worthy of reading? If you are writing about a person, then why did you choose to write about them? If you are writing about either your research or another person’s research, then explain the significance of the research.
3) Gathering Information
Every good scientist knows the importance of referencing and ensuring that information they use isn’t biased! Always obtain full details for referencing and make sure when you collect information that it is coming from a valid and reputable source. You can use this webpage by the American Council on Science and Health as a guide. It doesn’t matter if there is a paywall preventing your audience from accessing a source- the important thing is to provide the reference. If you are providing one side of a story, then make sure to include the other side. If you are stating an opinion, then say so and make sure not to present it as a fact. If you are asking questions in an interview, then be curious and ask open-ended questions. But it is always a good idea to have a list of questions already prepared in advance.
4) Structure your article
It may help to produce an outline of how you are going to write your article before you start writing. One method of structuring a piece is known as the Inverted Pyramid which could be highly applicable to articles about research. When you do structure your piece, consider the order of your points, for example is there a sensible flow to the logic? The important thing is that you structure you article clearly, whichever method you choose to do so.
- This is mostly aimed at the public or maybe even other scientists, who don’t study the same discipline as you, so avoid jargon. If you have no other choice, make sure you define something as simple as possible and when you use abbreviations, make sure to include what they stand for.
- Avoid long sentences. Instead keep them short with as few words as possible. But also make sure to keep your piece as short as possible. Only insert relevant points and keep them concise and succinct.
- Metaphors are a great way to illustrate a concept, so use them but don’t go overboard!
- Images are particularly useful when trying to convey a process, such as chemical reactions or migrations of species. Make sure you use an image that complements what you are writing and it is a good idea to include at least one image in your article. Make sure they are saved as jpgs at 72 dpi, and don’t forget to state in the text where you want them to be placed using suitable image names or numbers. Always include credits and captions even if they are your images, and remember if you are going to use images that aren’t yours make sure that they are copyright free. You can find some copyright features at: stocksnap.io and at unsplash.com
- Use formatting- as a general rule keep one point per paragraph. But also use font formatting to show structure.
- Use quotes- this is a great way to make a point. But when you do, make sure to write underneath who said it.
- How you choose to reference is up to you, but you must include your sources. Using hyperlinks within text is a very useful feature, but if you are going to write a biography underneath then make sure you use one of these methods for referencing. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you keep it consistent. Make sure every reference includes a title for the piece, author and date of publication and include the URL for online references.
- Finally, don’t forget to proofread your article BEFORE sending it to us.
- Please remember to include a short biography of yourself no more than 120 words mentioning where you are based, what work/ studying you are doing. Optional information to include here would be links to any personal websites including your Twitter handle or LinkedIn site.
Once completed, send everything to the blog editor at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE NEXT STAGE:
After you have sent your piece, our blog editor will proofread your piece using track changes. Suggestions may be given to improve the readability or formatting of your article along with checking that references are given and in a consistent format, and typos and grammar mistakes are corrected. How long this will take will be variable due to other time constraints of the blog editor, but we will endeavour to review as quickly as possible, and please remember the blog editor will review pieces in the order that they were received.
Once the review is completed and you have received your article with feedback you should check all the suggested changes to accept them and/or edit accordingly and answer any questions or provide additional material. If you have any issue with a change, please contact the blog editor first and we will aim to resolve the issue together. If it isn’t resolved, we will then bring in committee members to reach a decision.