News and Events
- Category: News and Events
The call for proposals is open for the Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation - that's the major science communication conference in the German-speaking world. The conference will be 7-9 November 2018 in Bonn.
They'd love to have an English-language stream in this year's programme to open up the conference for more international participants. For that to happen they need proposals for panel discussions and workshops in English.
The call for proposals is open until 16 April. This year's theme is 'Scientists in the focus of science communication', although proposals on other topics in science communication are also welcome.
- Category: News
The ABSW Executive Board is elected anually with places on the Board open to all full and life members of the ABSW. Individuals who wish to stand for the Board complete a nomination form and need the support of two full or life members (read full details of the election process).
Meet those who were elected to serve on the Board in 2018/2019.
Nominated by: Martin Ince, Andy Extance
Statement: I have been the chair of the ABSW since last elections, during which time our membership numbers increased and finances have been stable. We have had a busy and an active year, carrying out a range of activities and events, including summer school and several training events in London, Belfast and Dublin. We started looking to re-engage our members outside London and reached out to, and collaborated on projects with, science journalism associations in Ireland, Canada, and mainland Europe. We played a major role in reforming European science journalism bodies, and got involved with the winning bid for the next World Conference of Science Journalists – our summer school is one of the satellite events. We’ve also partnered with the Center for Investigative Journalism to provide science journalism training to their summer school delegates, as part of our ongoing effort to strengthen investigative science journalism. Importantly, we’ve carried out a comprehensive three-pronged strategic review of our association, which just celebrated its 70th anniversary. This review included an external consultant report, comprehensive survey of our members, and a special expert task force report, all of which came up with some clear recommendations for how to improve and strengthen our association, and make it more responsive to our members’ needs. I am now seeking your confidence to let me steer the association for a further year, to help asses and implement the main recommendations of the strategic review. And, to carry on with the ambitious programme of the successful training and networking events and awards, including the UK Conference of Science Journalists 2018.
Nominated by: Mico Tatalovic, Jack Serle
Statement: I have been on the ABSW board for two years as a general board member, helping to plan and run events and visiting universities to ensure a continuing supply of new student members. I want to continue to ensure the ABSW serves its members to the best of its ability and am ready to take on more responsibilities as vice-chair. It is an exciting time for the organisation, with the strategic review bringing an opportunity to re-shape who we are and how we do things. Our membership has grown in number and last year we ran an exciting program of events including panel discussions, networking opportunities, low-cost training and our biannual summer school. We have also seen the genesis of several regional groups that will ensure the society is more inclusive to members outside London. I want to be around to help make sure these positive developments continue in 2018.
Nominated by: Martin Ince, Wendy Barnaby
Statement: As well as already having been on the ABSW board for a year, I did a unit on accountancy during my degree, and was team leader at the contract research organisation I worked for prior to becoming a science writer, with corresponding financial responsibility. More recently, I have been responsible for my own self-employed and more recently company accounts over the 8 and a half years since I became a freelancer.
Nominated by: Anita Makri, Martin Ince
Statement: I'm an active freelance science journalist writing for Nature, New Scientist, SciDev.Net and Horizon at the moment. In the past I've been news editor and (briefly) editor of SciDev.Net and science correspondent on The Daily Telegraph, and I've freelanced from around the world. Because of this I have the freelance, employed, editor and writer perspectives. I've been secretary of the board for a couple of years now, keeping an eye on things, taking minutes at the board meetings and so forth. The board is full of energy and ideas and I'd love to go on being part of it.
Lou Del Bello
Nominated by: Mico Tatalovic, Aisling Irwin
Statement: I have been a member of the ABSW board for the past year, and I was one of the judges of the annual science journalism awards. In 2017 the board organised a variety of events, and perhaps most importantly never ceased to reflect on the changing landscape of science journalism, exploring new ways to meet the needs of our youngest and more experienced members. For the next year, I would like to build on what we have achieved so far. My objectives include promoting investigative and data journalism, something we have touched on in 2017 with positive feedback from the members. I am also personally interested in revamping the social media platforms of the organisation, as I am convinced they can become a useful tool for the exchange of ideas, tips and job opportunities. If my mandate is renewed in 2018 and I am elected European representative, I am committed to enhance our relationship with partners on the continent and facilitate a fruitful dialogue between British and European members. Most of all, I will be open to hear from our members and make sure their needs and expectations are reflected in our activities and events portfolio.
General Board member posts:
Nominated by: Martin Ince, Andy Extance
Statement: I've been a technical journalist, editor, and lecturer for more than 30 years and have had more than 500 articles published in the mainstream media (including The Economist), popular science/tech magazines (including New Scientist/Wired) and the technical press (including EE Times). I've been running my own small technical content for more than a dozen years (Form and Content Media), have started up many publications (most recently http://engins.org). I have also helped give a few people their start in science publishing. I'm passionate about teaching young scientists and engineers how to write about their own work, and have been doing this at UCL, and previously Imperial, for almost 20 years now. I also teach a module in technical journalism (one of few in the world) which I first created at UC Berkeley in 1999. I've written a book to help teach all these students which should come out next year. I've been on the board for the last two years trying to help the ABSW to better represent writers from the tech and engineering sectors, and would like another term to take this work to its fruition. For more information about me and my work, please go to http://www.sunnybains.com. (currently a general Board member)
Nominated by: Martin Ince, Mico Tatalovic
Statement: I have been on the board and, before that, the committee, since 1998. I believe I serve a useful function of providing institutional memory and some help in solving practical problems. My chief writing area is computers, freedom, and privacy, which covers a lot of ground from the workings of specific technologies to law and policy. I am also the founder of Britain's The Skeptic magazine, which began publication in 1987 to promote scientific examination of paranormal claims.
Nominated by: Mico Tatalovic, Aisling Irwin
Statement: I'm a freelance writer, editor and producer with about 20 years’ experience in science and policy for development, health and the environment. Much of my work in recent years has been with SciDev.Net, an online publisher that covers developing world issues from a science and tech perspective. I’ve served as a board member with ABSW for the past year. I also serve on the advisory board of the Global Health Film Initiative and as a mentor with the New York Academy of Sciences. Before getting into more details about my background I want to say a few words about the bigger picture for science, and writing about science. As we all know there are dramatic social, political and environmental changes worldwide. I believe we need to think more about the role of science and communication in our collective efforts to understand and respond to these changes. It was with this in mind that I worked with the association last year to organise a panel discussion on science journalism and post-truth. I’d previously written about this in a Nature column, and I’m keen to continue working with ABSW and others who are thinking about developments in science and journalism at a time when systems that we’ve long accepted to be sources of truth are being challenged like never before. More broadly, my interest is in socially relevant science with a focus on global development. Prior to going freelance, I oversaw the op-ed section and special features pages at SciDev.Net, a role that included putting together data and multimedia stories from the field for in-depth coverage. For me there’s real value in that kind of on-the-ground reporting of science issues. I’ve learned a great deal by working closely with both journalists and researchers around the world, and believe in supporting local capacity for journalism in countries with poorer resources. Prior to this I was editor for a UK news service focusing on emerging global health threats, leading its coverage of the 2009 flu pandemic. I also worked as editor for peer-reviewed journals after starting out as a research scientist in environmental health. This outline of my experience hopefully gives a flavour of the skills and perspectives I can contribute to the association ‒ thanks for considering my nomination.
Nominated by: Mico Tatalovic, Martin Ince
Statement: I am a Knight Fellow at MIT and have worked as an editor and writer at Research Fortnight, Nature and New Scientist in a career spanning more than 20 years. I am also the author of a number of books and have presented documentary programmes for BBC radio. I also teach science policy communication at Imperial College. The world of British science is about to experience its most turbulent phase for at least a generation as Brexit and a long-planned overhaul of science and university funding start to take shape. At the same time, a future Jeremy Corbyn-led government will also take science into new and unfamiliar territory. If elected to the ABSW board I will be able to assist writers and editors make sense of these changes and what they might mean for individual research fields. This could be through events with policymakers, or small group briefing sessions. I also have a strong interest in helping early career writers and editors join the profession, particularly those from under-represented groups. I was once a novice journalist too. In fact, it was more than 20 years ago that I was encouraged to join ABSW. Back then the organisation would team up with the giants of British academia and put on half-day training seminars to help rookies like me get upto speed on some of the latest developments in science. One such event that I can remember vividly, on the nature of consciousness, was hosted by the Institute of Psychiatry. Consciousness was an emerging field in the 90s, much in the news and rife with debate fuelled partly by Francis Crick’s book The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul. I think a week later I was in the Nature offices for an interview for a news reporter position. John Maddox was editor and he asked me if I had read any science books lately. I pulled out a copy of Crick’s book from my bag and proceeded to summarize the arguments I had heard at the ABSW briefing. I was told many years later that this (rather than my ropey writing skills) is most likely what bagged me the position. So, it is more than a privilege to be considered for the ABSW board and I hope that if elected, I will be able to give something back to an organisation that has been enormously beneficial to my own career.
Nominated by: Aisling Irwin, Mico Tatalovic
Statement: I am a science journalist and editor with 10+ years of experience. Having trained in local journalism before dedicating my career to science, I have experienced the thrills and challenges of reporting from the grassroots to the editing room. I have worked for various small publications, as well as the big science magazines, so I am acutely aware of the difficulties reporters face in the current news climate. Unfortunately, science reporters find more and more that their integrity is questioned, their pay checks are shrinking and the internet makes chasing unique and complicated stories difficult. I believe the ABWS has an important role to play in providing stability, advice and leadership for science journalists across the UK. As news editor at Research Europe and later editor at SciDev.Net I have trained more than 20 young reporters. Working with early-career journalists and watching them settle and succeed in an increasingly fraught and confusing job market is incredibly important and rewarding for me. I am attuned to the needs and worries of young reporters, and hope that by being in the ABSW I can do more to help them assert themselves for the good of science and independent, quality reporting. I am a keen unionist and believe it is vitally important to create a strong community of journalists that actively lobbies for reporters' interests and ensures its members thrive in the face of adverse bosses and falling budgets. To this end, it is also important to me to reach out beyond the borders of the UK and connect with science journalists in Europe and further abroad. The political climate of this day makes independent quality reporting ever more important - but also ever more of a challenge. As an ABWS member I will work hard to strengthen the community of science journalists in and around Britain, in order to protect and nurture the values of independence, balance, accuracy and diligence we all treasure.
- Category: News and Events
Registration is now open for the CIJ Summer Conference, the UK’s only investigative journalism training event with an emphasis on teaching investigative skills. It offers a mixture of talks, demos and hands-on classes which are designed to equip journalists and anyone interested in investigations with up-to-date investigative methods and tools.
For the first time this year the CIJ Summer Conference will also offer training in science journalism, co-organised with the ABSW.
The science programme will include sessions on reporting on research misconduct, how to find and sell good science reporting to editors, how to read research papers, what to look out for in science press releases, and how to report on science for general audiences, moving from complex research to appealing stories.
The speakers include science and medical reporters and editors from the Economist, BBC, Retraction Watch, AP, and New Scientist.
- Category: Events
On February 22, 2018 over forty ABSW members heard from the people who know at an ABSW panel event, with:
Royal Society Book Prize Winner: Philip Ball
New York Times bestselling author and Royal Society Book Prize Shortlistee: Jo Marchant
Editing and Publishing expert Robin Dennis, who has worked on four books longlisted for the Royal Society Prize, three shortlisted books, and one winner
Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist, and author of six books blending technology and history, including two New York Times bestsellers.
Jessica Woollard is a literary agent at David Higham Associates representing narrative non-fiction and international fiction. Her authors include Jo Baker, Rob Cowen, Stanley Donwood, Charles Foster, Paul Kingsnorth, Robert Macfarlane, Fred Pearce and Merlin Sheldrake.
The panel discussion was held at the venue for this year's UKCSJ, The Francis Crick Institute.
Read: Top tips on writing popular science books from literary agent Diane Banks
View the full Facebooklive video of the event:
Read all about it on Twitter:
- Category: News and Events
The recent rise of artificial intelligence has led to bots writing real news stories about sports, finance and politics. Some people still mistakenly think science is too complex for bots to write about. In fact, the science beat could be next in line for automation, potentially making many science reporters --- and even editors --- superfluous.
And yet, the science journalism community remains largely unaware of these developments, and is not engaged in directing AI developments in ways that could enhance reporting, rather than take its jobs away. What should we be doing?
Also, a look at how AI is affecting different aspects of a newsroom production, in a blog post published at the Public Understanding of Science blog.
- Category: Events
Next Thursday, February 22nd, the ABSW is running a panel entitled “How to write a successful science book”. Admission is limited to ABSW members and closes this Friday, February 16th. You can join here, and register for the event here. In advance of our event, here is the advice of Diane Banks from Diane Banks Associates, literary agents for popular science writers including Brian Cox, Jeff Forshaw, Jon Butterworth, Melanie Windridge and Sheila Kanani.
Science books have become increasingly popular in the last ten years or so, crossing out of the science section at the back of the bookstore and over into the genre which has been labelled by Waterstones as “Smart Thinking”, a phrase which has been picked up across the trade. The general reader is keen to understand all aspects of the world in which we live. Nevertheless, however cutting edge their research, the number of academic science writers who successfully make the move into trade publishing remains small. Cracking the magic formula of a groundbreaking science book which captures and holds the public imagination is tough. Here are our top tips:
1. Public profile. Before approaching an agent or trade publisher, you’ll need to have already demonstrated that you enjoy engaging with a popular audience. The simplest way to do this is via social media and a personal website, where you can post blogs, videos and press cuttings. A writer who is genuinely interested in engaging with a wider audience (as opposed to one who sees writing a trade book as a way to make money) will by definition have already built up a strong social media following and have put themselves out there on the popular lecture circuit. If they haven’t done this, the publisher has all the information they need to make a decision.