Every day, newspapers carry thousands of words about the latest science findings, and a big result such as the discovery of the Higgs Boson can expect to be reported across the globe.
However, specialised science reporters are few and far between. Thus it’s good for anyone studying journalism to have a basic idea of how to tackle stories with science or health claims.
The Science for journalists online course equips you with a basic understanding of how science works and is communicated, key questions to ask, and how to find suitable experts.
The course will take around 20-30 minutes to complete at your own pace, and is self-guided. An audio commentary is provided; this is recommended but is optional.
- Start the course – web, mobile and tablet versions are available. To use on iPad, you may be asked to download a free Articulate app.
- Accessible text version of the course, and credits.
- Video of Science for Journalists workshop, filmed at Science and statistics for journalists course organised with the NCTJ on 13 November 2014 at Bloomberg in London. Best viewed in addition to the online course, to explore some of the points in more depth.
The course is based on a syllabus and presentation developed through the RSS Science Journalism Programme. Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and led by the Royal Statistical Society, volunteers developed and delivered presentations to journalists and journalism students across the UK from 2010-2015. A Statistics for Journalists online course is also available.
A series of resources and guides to further explore issues around reporting on science and health stories:
- The Science Media Centre supports journalists reporting on science issues. Their website includes primers on key scientific topics designed for journalists and 10 best practice guidelines for science and health reporting.
- Sense About Science publishes brief guides on topics including GM and peer review.
- BBC Academy: Science – a guide to reporting on science from the BBC Academy.
- Science Media Centre New Zealand: Desk Guide for Covering Science.
- SciDevNet practical guides include how to dig up science stories, using research findings to write better stories and reporting from science conferences.
- The Guardian: Secrets of good science writing series of articles.
- The Association of British Science Writers – includes a reading room of further resources.
The syllabus and workshop presentation that this course is based upon is available for anyone to use, adapt and modify. The presentation contains full notes and several exercises to help deliver the issues identified in the syllabus. You can work through this yourself as an alternative to the online course, or use it to deliver your own training to journalists or journalism students.
For details of how to request a volunteer trainer to deliver the course, see the section How it works.