A science writer’s main role is to communicate potentially complex science and technology concepts to readers in an easily understandable and palatable manner.
Typically found in academia or the media industry, versatility is a must, as writers are usually tasked to work with professionals, students, or even the general public. An ability to adapt to different writing styles is also a boon.
As writing is a skill that can only be developed through practise, many science writers tend to get their start by gathering experience in general writing such as journalism and copywriting before moving into the field. Others, though, come from a more science-related role. Both avenues provide great insights into the editorial process, the way in which science-related subjects should be communicated, and the type of news important to professionals in the science industries. However, holding a degree in a science is usually a requirement.
While it is essential to have a strong grasp on the fundamentals of science, science writing is similar to any other writing job, and graduates would also be responsible for conducting research on the subject, fact-checking articles, providing some background on the subject for context, and writing the piece.
Employment can be found in publications, journals and even science faculties in universities and clinical research laboratories. Be that as it may, it should be noted that while science writers in universities create content aimed at engaging students on websites and social media pages, those working in clinical laboratories communicate test analysis results in a way that is easy for the general public to digest, as well as write papers of publishable quality for academic journals. If presentation materials are needed, writers may be involved in the creation process as well.
Trends and developments
With technology continuing to move at a breakneck pace, there are many scientific publications and businesses on an upward path – such as biomedical or manufacturing companies – that need writers who are not only knowledgeable about the science behind new products or advances, but also skilled at copywriting.
Moreover, as more universities look to maintaining a more active social media presence, demand for social media-literate writers able to create content for various platforms is going up.
Working with cutting-edge innovation
Being a science writer often translates to being one of the first to learn and understand about new breakthroughs in science, before introducing them to the world.
A unique career
Science writing effectively straddles two worlds, combining scientific knowledge and writing skills in order to make science accessible to the average reader by expounding byzantine scientific discoveries in simple language.
Skills required in science writing
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Strong knowledge and curiosity about the sciences
- Critical thinking skills
- Research skills
- An ability to explain complex ideas simply
- Solid interpersonal skills