ScienceWriters excerpts

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Published twice annually, ScienceWriters magazine is devoted to analytical reporting and commentary on issues in science journalism and communications, and to the special interests of members of the National Association of Science Writers. Sample issue

We’ve heard a lot about self-publishing new books. But what about self-republishing out-of-print books? Having some time and some available books, Jeff Hecht tested the process, and came to the conclusion it can work, but not for all books, and not in the formats used by e-book readers unless you have a clean digital copy. This article shares what he's learned the hard way to save you time and trouble.

Most American science journalists and others who help in shuttling information and analysis from the realm of science to the public in plain English surely have heard at least vaguely about something called the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ). It is coming soon to the USA for the first time. In less than two years, our kind will be in downtown San Francisco for a self-improvement confab among a global bevy of science journalists and their like. Key activities include workshops, mad gossip in the hallways, tours, and lectures from experts on hot science on the horizon.

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.