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ScienceWriters magazine

Thinking like a fact checker

Mistakes happen in any profession, but when one is made in journalism, thousands — sometimes millions — of people see it. At best, this is embarrassing. At worst, there are lawyers involved.

The alchemy of book marketing

"Was I this obsessive about the last book?" I asked my husband the other day, after trotting into the living room to report on my morning Amazon check for The Poisoner's Handbook. (Wow! In the 100s! After six weeks!)

Why Futurity fails

Born as the idea of a handful of senior university PR officials and billed as an alternative source for science news in a world supposedly hemorrhaging science writers, the Futurity website offers up four or five new research stories daily, fresh from the country's major research universities.

Writers named AAAS fellows

Paula Apsell, Beryl Lieff Benderly, Linda Billings, Deborah Blum, James Cornell, and Jeff Grabmeier have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). All are members of Section Y (General Interest in Science and Engineering). They will receive formal recognition of this honor at a ceremony during the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, Feb. 18-22.

Explaining research

Explaining Research (Oxford University Press, 2010), began its eccentric evolution as a modest booklet-sized manuscript that I planned to self-publish; but ended up as a 368-page book produced by a major academic publisher. The tale of that evolution, I think, offers useful lessons for authors who face a daunting new era of self-publishing technology and an economically depressed publishing industry.

Mosaic Magazine archive

Now available online is the Mosaic Magazine Archive, consisting of articles, published from 1970 to 1992, in the National Science Foundation's flagship magazine. Material is searchable by issue, topic, and author.

Five atrocious science cliches

A black hole is the perfect place for stuff you never want to see again. So Wired Science is joining's extended black hole party by chucking in some of the worst, most overused science cliches.

Access to federal scientists

On his first day in office in January, President Barack Obama went to work for science writers as he issued a directive on transparency and access to government information. The new president issued an Executive Memo on "Openness and Transparency," reversing a Bush-era rule that favored secrecy over disclosure for requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The mid-career job market

Carey Goldberg knew the Boston Globe was in a full-blown financial crisis. Still, she was shocked when told in March that she had been laid off along with the rest of the Globe's part-timers. Effective immediately. No severance pay. Please schedule a time with security to collect your things.

Innovations in journalism

Journalists — science writers, especially — are accustomed to reporting on innovation. Now many are living it. Today's tumult is forcing our profession to reexamine what we're really about and realizing our roles in society. Just as musicians were not about LPs or cassette tapes, we are not about printed-on-paper publications, many of which are being undermined by accelerating losses of ad and subscription revenue to often-free Internet alternatives.