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During the first Clinical Trials Basic Training session an Food and Drug Administration official and an academic explained the basic standards and issues involved in properly designing a human clinical trial. The goal was to teach reporters enough about the process to adequately analyze trial data and avoid inaccurate coverage of results. To that end, the speakers pointed out some specific questions for reporters to ask and information to request and scrutinize to properly assess trial results.

Those interested in self-publishing have many options: launching their own small publishing company; contracting with an established small publisher or a large online operation; using single copy, print-on-demand (POD) technology; or simply publishing their work online as an e-book. Despite the choices, though, can self-publishing be satisfying and lucrative, a reasonable alternative for professional writers?

Food and good conversation wrapped up the National Association of Science Writers' 2006 annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, and kicked off the annual New Horizons meeting of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. At the luncheon in the Tremont Grand Hotel, conference participants jockeyed for seats at 31 tables, each of which featured a local scientist discussing his or her current research.

A panel of experts highlighted the challenges of covering global climate change for an audience intent on learning how to get ink for this controversial topic. Cristine Russell moderated a session packed with good science and commonsense tips from seasoned journalists.

In addition to hot coffee, fresh muffins, and glazed danishes, the NASW Business Meeting offered both an opportunity to learn about the progress of current NASW projects and the development of new ones. Many of the brief presentations centered on the importance of sharing information helpful to honing a science writer's craft. The meeting also gave new members the chance to meet and talk with board members, as well as socialize with other attendees.

Paul Aiken, attorney for the Author's Guild, claims that Google's digitization of copyrighted material could pave the way for the demise of writers and publishers. Aiken and the Guild have sued Google, and the case is winding its way through a multi-year process. "Fair use doesn't mean free use," Aiken told a rapt audience at a presentation titled "Copyright in an Internet Age." Questioners after his talk challenged his reading of the tea leaves.