ScienceWriters excerpts

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  • Here are some words and phrases you have probably been misusing: comprise, fulsome, foundering, begging the question. Here are some others: comorbidity, latent construct, hierarchical stepwise regression, principal components factor analysis. That second list comes from a review titled “Fifty Psychological and Psychiatric Terms to Avoid: a List of Inaccurate, Misleading, Misused, Ambiguous, and Logically Confused Words and Phrases”, which was published in Frontiers in Psychology by researchers from Emory University, Sacred Heart College, Georgia State University, and SUNY–Binghamton.

  • Over recent years, more and more research institutions seem to be adopting a corporate marketing approach to their communications. You can recognize these marketers by their use of such buzzwords as branding, messaging, market penetration, and cost-benefit analysis. It’s an approach that risks compromising research communications, and more broadly a research institution’s missions to create and disseminate knowledge. But corporate marketing is by definition shallow marketing. By aiming to sell the institution as a branded product, it fails to serve the intellectually rich marketplace of ideas in which researchers operate.

  • The federal government has assembled a fast-track committee to encourage research into microorganisms, reflecting the recognition of their increasingly important role in human health and the Earth’s climate. Jo Handelsman, Ph.D., a Yale microbiologist and current associate director for science to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), described the initiative during her Patrusky Lecture at this year’s New Horizons in Science briefing.

  • The International Science Writers Association (ISWA), arguably the world’s oldest international organization of science journalists, has a new roster of officers as of Sept. 1. James Cornell has retired from the office of president and was succeeded by Pallava Bagla, author, columnist, Science correspondent, and science editor for New Delhi Television, India.

  • Most NASW members and other freelancers are “cash basis” taxpayers. That’s IRS jargon for, among others, writers who have to declare advances and royalties for books and payments for articles in the year that they actually receive them. Similarly, the IRS generally forbids freelancers from deducting business expenses and other allowable outlays until the year that they actually pay them.

  • Which programs help you write and edit most efficiently; let you import and mark up articles from publications, websites, and other sources; and let you share documents with a co-author? What is the learning curve? The NASW-Freelance discussion list recently explored these questions.

  • The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) has announced that the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), in partnership with the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), will host the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, in San Francisco, in fall 2017, marking the first time WCSJ will take place in the United States.

  • Science and journalism can change the world — or at least make an impact on it. On April 1, award-winning National Public Radio science reporter Richard Harris delivered that message at Virginia Tech's College of Engineering with the presentation “Using the tools of science and journalism to make a difference.”

  • On March 10, at a massive sound stage here in the heart of Los Angeles, Alex Trebek stared down three contestants on the game show "Jeopardy!" The legendary host has presided over the TV show for 31 years, and that day he read off the following clue, which also appeared on a blue screen behind him: This condition has doubled in the last 30 years in U.S. kids & is linked to increased risk for diabetes.