ABSW Awards 2016
The awards are supported by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
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The ABSW was saddened to hear of the death of long standing member Andrew Veitch.
Tim Radford, another long standing member of the Association, has written an obituary for the Guardian which we thought members might like to read:
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life by Liz Kalaugher and Matin Durrani
Year of publication: 2016
The animal world is full of mysteries. Why do dogs slurp from their drinking bowls while cats lap up water with a delicate flick of the tongue? How does a tiny turtle hatchling from Florida circle the entire northern Atlantic before returning to the very beach where it hatched? And how can a Komodo dragon kill a water buffalo with a bite only as strong as a domestic cat's?
These puzzles – and many more besides – are all explained by physics. From heat and light to electricity and magnetism, Furry Logic unveils the ways that more than 30 animals exploit physics to eat, drink, mate and dodge death in their daily battle for survival.
Along the way, science journalists Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher introduce the great physicists whose discoveries helped us understand the animal world, as well as the animal experts of today who are scouring the planet to find and study the animals that seem to push the laws of physics to the limit.
Presenting mind-bending physics principles in a simple and engaging way, Furry Logic will appeal both to animal lovers and to those curious to see how physics crops up in the natural world. It's more of a 'howdunit' than a whodunit, though you're unlikely to guess some of the answers.
“Packed with insight and information.” – Jim Al-Khalili, physicist and broadcaster
“Wonderful, wild and witty.” – Ian Sample, science editor, Guardian,
Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK Tel. +44 (0)20 7631 5600
Buy the book here: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/furry-logic-9781472914095/
Web page: http://furrylogicbook.com
Restoration of appearance and function trust (RAFT), are looking for a science writer to start work in 2017 to update our 25th anniversary book for our 30th anniversary (in 2018). This requires researching how our research projects have been taken up by others and impacted on healthcare over the last 30 years i.e. we don't just want a narration of our achievements but are looking to prove that our research has had an impact. The 30th anniversary book should also includes stories of patients who have benefited from our work and key people involved in our history.
This is a fixed payment project i.e. we are looking for someone to quote for the whole project rather than pay by hour.
Closing Date: Saturday 31 December 2016
Nature, the international weekly journal of science, seeks a sharp and social-media savvy individual with talent and enthusiasm to take the lead in boosting engagement with our magazine content through social media.
Working at our London or Washington DC offices you’ll promote Nature's award-winning news, features, comment and opinion content through a variety of social media channels, particularly Twitter (over 1 million followers), Facebook (over 250,000+ fans), and YouTube (over 100,000 subscribers). You'll improve and implement our social media strategy, provide guidance on best practice, and identify new opportunities for us on social media platforms.
We seek an individual with exceptional understanding of the social media landscape, and strong experience managing social media accounts and executing social projects. You will have the ability to use social media creatively and responsibly, as befits the public face of a high-profile publication. We’re looking for passion, creativity, smarts; someone who’s unafraid of digging into the data to find out who our followers are, and crafting updates and campaigns that let our content shine and align with our wider aims and ambitions.
You will join a group of energetic and congenial colleagues and we seek an individual with the same traits who will thrive as a member of our team. Experience of science journalism or within a science media environment is preferred.
This role can be based in our London (UK) or Washington DC (US) offices. Please note that applicants must have the right to live and work in the country they are applying to work in.
We offer a comprehensive benefits package that includes:
- Medical, Dental and Vision
- Life and AD&D
- Flexible Spending Accounts
- Transit Accounts
- Tuition Assistance
- Summer Hours
Please apply using our online application system: https://career012.successfactors.eu/sfcareer/jobreqcareer?jobId=8966&company=C0001215517P&username=
Closing Date: Thursday 13 October 2016
Organisation: Springer Nature
As part of its ongoing work to encourage investigative science journalism, the ABSW awarded four journalism fellowships to fund attendance at this year's Centre for Investigative (CIJ) Journalism Summer Conference. ABSW member Wendy Grossman reports back.
For the 1970s generation investigative journalism has an identity problem. That is, many people tend to associate it with exposing fraud, pinpointing corruption, and bringing down governments and rich people. ABSW members therefore might logically ask, what does that have to do with science?
One of the most detailed - and to me, most useful - tutorials at this year's mid-July summer school run by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (www.tcij.org) extended across four sessions in which longtime journalists Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter (www.storybasedinquiry.com) methodically worked their way through the stages of building and researching a story: hypothesis, timeline, scenes, sources, and fieldwork. Especially helpfully, Hunter explained how he organises and keeps track of the material he collects. The example they chose to illustrate their work? The possibility that toxic chemicals were leaking out of plastic pipes into drinking water. Doesn't that sound like science? (Their process for developing that particular story is written up in their short book The Hidden Scenario: Plotting and Outlining Investigative Stories, which you can acquire from the CIJ website. From their own website you can download, for free, The Global Investigative Journalism Casebook and Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists.))
Other classes included numerous tutorials on various technical tools for data journalism: Excel; Access; R and RStudio; OpenRefine (taught by Jonathan Stoneman, who appeared at the 2015 ABSW summer school); graph databases; and even some bits of Python coding. For case studies the data journalists used to show the potential, one, presented by a journalist working for Greenpeace, studied the allocation of fish quotas in the UK, finding that only three companies own ost of the UK's fish.
Other speakers included veteran reporter James B. Steele; Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermeyer, who led the extensive Panama Papers investigations; Hajo Seppelt, the journalist who broke the Russian doping story; Duncan Campbell on computer forensics; and many others. Some workshops focused on getting the best out of a particular service, such as Companies House, which has opened up free access to its data, and offshore finance. Finally, the former policeman Neil Smith discussed using open source - that is, public - data sources; his website (www.uk-osint.net) is full of valuable links.
Probably many people's image of investigative journalists is confrontational, ferreting out secrets by asking people questions they don't want to answer. While that's true, what became clear at this event is the vital role of documents in establishing the truth of what's happening. You are, as Steele, Hunter, and Sengers all said, in a much stronger position if you can go to the source you've identified, show them the documentary evidence and say, "This is what happened, right?" instead of "What happened?"
To do that kind of work, as many speakers said, contacts and interviews are still important, but even more so is an appetite for finding and absorbing detailed documentary information; all sorts of treasure troves are kept that hardly anyone eever looks at and whose keepers are thrilled when someone expresses a genuine interest.
The ABSW has been trying to encourage encourage interest in investigative journalism, first by offering a grant to aid members who need time and resources to tackle specific projects, and second, by offering scholarships to this year's CIJ summer school as a good place to pick up skills, resources, and ideas. Often, when all we see is the results of a lengthy investigation, it all looks simple, which is probably why so many people think such work is about finding the right contacts and nosing out secrets. The value in CIJ's sessions is that enormously experienced people are willing to show their work - the how - so that others may continue and extend it.
So far, the number of meembers applying for either has been disappointing. Yet, as I hope the above has shown, although you may never be the person who's approached with a giant data dump like the journalists who worked on the Panama Papers, investigative skills are ones that ought to be valuable to every science journalist. Developing a hypothesis, breaking it down into facts that can be tested, then reassembling the pieces into a piece of truth - isn't that what both scientists and science journalists do?
Good investigative journalism - even good investigative *science* journalism - is being done in all sorts of places outside the traditional media, from NGOs to tiny cooperatively funded start-ups such as the Bristol Cable and Scotland's The Ferret, both of which presented their progress at this year's event. These are skills that, as veteran investigative reporter James B. Steele says, will always be valued.