Science writing


Questions to ask public relations staff when you're covering scientific research

Journalists talk to a variety of sources about scientific research. Different types of sources have different qualifications and can provide different types of information. Here are some considerations and questions when you are interviewing public relations staff in the industry you are covering. For subject matter expertise, ask: Does this person have academic credentials related to this topic? A client … Read More

How to report on the differences among scientific studies

How do you make sense of scientific data so that you can translate to your audience? First, know your data. Data from different types of studies means different things. Animal studies. We care about, and report on, scientific studies that involve animals for one reason: If something causes a health problem in an animal, we assume that the same substance … Read More

4 essential questions to ask about scientific studies

When it comes to scientific studies and research, you can start by asking the same basic questions, including: Who funded the research? Are there connections to big industry or advocacy groups? What biases might be at play, based on the study's or researcher's funding history? Who conducted the study? Are the study authors academics or consultants? Or both? Sniff out … Read More

How to develop story ideas in science and environmental reporting

As you cover environmental and climate change issues remember: Nothing in science is ever fully definitive. There is still much to be discovered and understood. And keep in mind that covering policy is a little different from covering science. Here are some ways to explore your coverage: Look for divisiveness: Policy experts will disagree on major policy questions, which makes … Read More

Is good journalism enough to sustain an investigative nonprofit?

(Editor's note: Corrections have been made to the original version of this story.)  This is the second of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups. Beth Daley Beth Daley, a former reporter for the Boston Globe, joined the New England Center for Investigative Journalism (NECIR), in November 2013. After 20 years at the Globe, she says, she … Read More

How MATTER succeeded in spite of itself

This is the first of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups - the dreams, the struggles, the lessons learned. An abundance of studies have tried to assess the revenue strategies that can make digital news startups sustainable, typically focusing on successes like The Texas Tribune and the range of possible revenue sources.  Freelancer Naomi Lubick approached the question … Read More

Using a rumor site to investigate scientific fraud

The first whispers of fraud in the LaCour gay-marriage persuasion study were voiced on an underground rumor site for political scientists, almost six months before the academic scandal broke nationally. The site —, or PSR — is one of a growing number of gossip communities that may provide leads for enterprising reporters. Visiting such a site might be … Read More
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