Summer School

The ABSW has partnered up with CIJ for the second year running, to bring the science beat closer to investigative reporters.

We are organizing three sessions on science reporting at the CIJ’s Investigative Journalism Summer Conference: Where new tools meet traditional craft on 4-6 July 2019 in London, UK.

ABSW also has five travel grants for its members to attend the conference, and all ABSW members get 20% discount on registration.

The science sessions this year are the following:

1: 101 on science reporting – where to find stories and how to read research papers and university and journal press releases, with Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics, Open University

Moderator: Wendy Grossman, freelance writer and founder of The Skeptic (UK).


2: Reporting on academic misconduct and the business of science, with Holly Else, Reporter at Nature; Éanna Kelly, News Editor at ScienceBusiness; and Hannah Devlin, Science Correspondent at The Guardian

Moderator: Emma Stoye, Senior Science Correspondent, Chemistry World


3: Digging out research discoveries and science scoops with Joshua Howgego, Features editor at New Scientist; Crispin Dowler, Senior Investigations Reporter, Unearthed; Mike Power, freelance journalist specialising in drugs, science and technology; and Julian Sturdy, Investigations Editor, BBC East.

Moderator: Wendy Grossman, freelance writer and founder of The Skeptic (UK)


Last year, ABSW organized the following four session at the CIJ Summer Conference:

1. How to read research papers and what to look out for in science press releases

An (hour-long) explanation of scientific methods, randomized clinical trials, and their importance, including assessing aspects like sample sizes, statistics and risk assessments.


Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, The Open University.


2. Where to look for stories of academic misconduct and why they matter

The world of scientific publishing is fraught with problems, and retractions of published research -- while still representing only a tiny fraction of papers -- have risen dramatically in recent years. Why do scientists go rogue, and what are the stories we can tell about this? How do you find stories about bad science, and how do you tell them? What are the warning signs you should be aware of when reporting on science, and how do you check that research you’re reporting on is valid?


Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch.


3. How to find and sell good science reporting to editors

Editors are tricky beasts. They can be seduced by easy headlines based on dubious interpretation of research, like declaiming cancer cures when the research was in vivo with a tiny sample. They are swayed by siren voices of scepticism when policy and science intersect, like climate change.

Learn how you can equip yourself with strong science stories that you can sell to your editors without having to jazz up or sensationalize research or take the path of least resistance.


Clare Wilson, Medical reporter, New Scientist

Ehsan Masood, Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT, former editor of Research Professional

Hal Hodson, Technology correspondent, The Economist.


4. How to report on science for general audiences: going from complex research to appealing stories 

How do you take complicated science and turn it into a narrative? How do you make stories about seemingly impenetrable research sing? Learn how to report on science stories that matter to a general audience, with award-winning speakers who regularly report great science stories.


Sally Adee, Freelance writer, former editor at New Scientist and IEEE Spectrum

Victoria Gill, Science correspondent, BBC News

Mićo Tatalović, Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT.


Speakers’ bios:

Sally Adee

Technology Writer and Editor


Sally Adee is an award-winning science and technology writer and editor. She was a technology features and news editor at New Scientist for seven years, writing and commissioning articles about medical technology, artificial intelligence, and the Venn diagram of the human mind and the machines we create. Before that she was on the microchips beat at IEEE Spectrum magazine in New York. She has received awards from the National Press Club and BT, and has reported from China, DARPA headquarters, and the Estonian cloud. In her spare time Sally writes speculative fiction and nonfiction at The Last Word on Nothing, an independent science blog dubbed a “must follow” by Wired. She is also supposedly working on a book. @sally_adee


Victoria Gill 

BBC News
Science Correspondent

Victoria Gill is a science correspondent at BBC News, working across TV, radio and online, where she’s covered stories from the world’s most powerful rocket to microplastic pollution in waterways. This year, Victoria won the AAAS Kavli science journalism award for her radio documentary on the remarkable world of post-menopausal killer whales. She worked in science journalism for more than a decade and prior to joining the BBC, for Chemistry World magazine, where she was highly commended in the new journalist of the year awards for her work investigating the nvironmental implications of deep sea mining and the science behind cosmetic companies’ anti-ageing claims.@vic_gill


Hal Hodson 

The Economist
Technology Correspondent

Hal Hodson is technology correspondent at The Economist. Previously, he worked at New Scientist for three years in Boston and one year in London. At New Scientist, Hal wrote about internet policy and economics, robotics, artificial intelligence, infrastructure and biotechnology. He has reported from abroad, including Bolivia, Mexico, South Korea and Finland. Hal graduated in 2010 from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in astrophysics.@halhod


Ehsan Masood 

Knight Science Journalism Fellow

Ehsan Masood is a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MITfor 2017/18 where he is investigating the impact of the McCarthy purge on US academics and universities. Ehsan has written widely on science and higher education policy around the world and has also made documentary programmes for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. His most recent outing was a programme called Science: Right or Left, which explored why centre-right audiences are losing trust in the scientific consensus. From 2009-2017 Ehsan was the Editor of the science policy magazine,Research Fortnight and before that worked as a writer and editor on the staff of Nature and New Scientist. He is the author of a number of books, most recently The Great Invention (Pegasus, 2016) which tells the story of how GDP became the world’s economic indicator of choice. @EhsanMasood

Kevin McConway 

The Open University, UK
Milton Keynes, UK

Kevin McConway retired in 2016 after teaching and researching in statistics for many years at theOpen University. He was academic adviser to the BBC Radio Four programme More or Lessfor eleven years, and has worked with journalists and press officers in other contexts, including through the Science Media Centre where he is now a member of the Advisory Committee. He enjoys talking about statistics in the media, particularly statistics about health or the environment, to pretty well any audience who will have him. @kjm2


Ivan Oransky

Writer in residence

New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute

New York

Ivan Oransky is an MD, although he doesn’t have quite enough psychiatric training to diagnose why someone would leave medicine for journalism. A cofounder of Retraction Watch, a blog about scientific retractions, Ivan is also distinguished writer in residence at New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute. He has held positions at MedPage Today, Reuters Health,Scientific American, The Scientist, and the sadly defunct Praxis Post.



Mićo Tatalović

Science journalist and news editor, London, UK

Mićo Tatalović has just completed the Knight Science Journalism fellowship at MIT, in Cambridge, US. Before that he was a science news editor, first at SciDev.Net and then at New Scientist. Originally from Rijeka, Croatia, and is still actively involved in promoting science journalism in the region, through initiatives such as the Balkan School of Science Journalism and Balkan Science Beat. Mićo has several years of experience as a board member of the Association of British Science Writers, most recently as its chairman. At ABSW, he helped organize UK and European conferences of science journalism, and summer schools of science journalism. He studied biology at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, and then science communication at Imperial College London.


Clare Wilson 

New Scientist
Medical Reporter

Clare Wilson is an award-winning medical reporter at New Scientist, the world’s leading science and technology magazine and website. She has been a writer and editor at the magazine for 15 years. Before that, she wrote for a doctor's weekly newspaper called Hospital Doctor, and a newsletter for the pharmaceutical industry, called Scrip. At New Scientist, Clare reports on everything life-science-related, from Ageing to Zika. Her exploits include watching brain surgery close-up, having her pain threshold tested while lying in a brain scanner and a trip in the European Space Agency’s vomit comet.@clarewilsonmed