Since its inception in 2010, more than $350,000 has been awarded by NASW's Idea Grants program for projects that benefit science writing and its practitioners. Read more to see a list of all the awardees and their exciting science writing projects. Visit www.nasw.org/ideagrants2014 for the latest call for proposals due November 4, 2014.
Scientists tried to replicate 100 psychology studies but succeeded barely one-third of the time, Tabitha M. Powledge writes in discussing a paper published last week. What does it mean for science? "On its face the finding sounds like a disaster, not just for psychology but for the already-battered image of science and the validity of the scientific method," she says. "But so far much of the commentary on the psychology paper is determinedly looking on the bright side."
Poynter's Melody Kramer writes about some unusual uses for the computer code-sharing system GitHub: "While most people and organizations use GitHub for code, others use the platform [for] collaborative work on lists of all sorts of information, including recipes, articles to read and freely available programming books." Kramer also includes a list of tutorials and GitHub projects such as Annotator, a tool that allows anyone to add annotation to text or images.
Denise Graveline writes about some of the most common theme-related problems she sees in speakers' scripts: "Every dramatic arc relies on the high point of a crisis to put the drama in the arc of a story. But if we love crisis and failure, it's because we're hoping for redemption: what you learned, what changed, where it led you, why it's better today. I see lots of speakers aiming to emulate TED talks who do a great job on the failure, and forget the redemption."
Get out of the office and be out standing in the field, Laura Dattaro writes in her list of tips for better environmental writing: "As with all beats, reporting from the field makes for the best stories, and not only because you can describe what the elephant smelled like. It can also help provide important cultural context that can be lost amid persistent messages to save a species at any cost." Also, doing peer review in environmental writing.
Christie Aschwanden uses a clever interactive graphic to explain why so many scientific studies don't hold up under further scrutiny: "I could pontificate about all the reasons why science is arduous, but instead I’m going to let you experience one of them for yourself. Welcome to the wild world of p-hacking." Aschwanden's graphic shows how an insignificant result can be turned into a significant one by manipulating a few of the handful of variables in the analysis.
Nieman Reportsrecounts a 1977 visit to Harvard by novelist E.L. Doctorow, who died in July, and who thought journalists should embrace fiction: "I wish Bernstein and Woodward had not stuck to the factual detections of investigative reporters … With the highest scruples of investigative reporting, they ran into the limits of the form. If they had taken off from what they knew they might have gotten a greater, more comprehensive understanding of exactly what happened."
Tabitha M. Powledge discusses this week's news about Jimmy Carter's cancer medicine: "The immunotherapy Jimmy Carter is getting in addition to radiation for the metastisized melanoma that has invaded his brain and liver is startlingly effective in some patients and not at all in others." As for the second drug — the supposed cure for women's sexual problems — Powledge writes: "The triumph of capitalism over science. And feminism. And good sense." Also, still more Trump.
It's not their lower metabolic rates, Bethany Brookshire writes in a takedown of one of the most recent viral science stories. After consulting with experts in building design, Brookshire writes that metabolism is probably not a significant factor: "So who is keeping you so cold? Whoever sets the thermostat, not whoever designed the building … Some buildings overcool air to reduce humidity. Men stuffed into heavy suits may play a role, but psychology might as well."
Your friends at NASW, CASW, and Knight Science Journalism at MIT are hard at work on ScienceWriters2015, which lands in Cambridge, Mass., on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 9 to 13. For a sneak preview of the meeting, read more. Full conference agenda and registration details available now at ScienceWriters2015.org.