Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Could you be a science writer in a science researcher's body?

I'm sure every single PhD student at some point or another, or 500 times over the course of a post candidacy year, wonders if research is right for them.

I know I have.

And I know I have thought long and hard about the idea of going into science writing or science journalism.

I've read books like the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and The Emperor of all Maladies a Biography of Cancer and day dreamed about one day writing my own book about the magic of science and how it impacts our world.

I've purchased the Science Writer's Handbook... although I haven't read any of it yet.

Heck, I even keep the domain name for this blog, even though it's been ages since I've written anything here.

But today a line from Julia Rosen's article on the Open Notebook really spoke to me.

You can find the full article here: Trading the Pipette for the Pen: Transitioning from Science to Science Writing.

Here's the bit that spoke to me:
This isn’t an unfamiliar tale, according to Rob Irion, who directs the graduate Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Many of his applicants, especially those who have completed or are working on PhDs, say that instead of reading the literature in their own field, they “spend a lot of time in their department seminar rooms devouring everything else, and finding that they are really interested in all of it,” Irion says. This might be the closest thing to a litmus test to determine if you, like I and many others, might be a science writer trapped in a scientist’s career path.
And much like Julia herself: "Sometime during my PhD studies, I had an epiphany: I liked learning about science more than I liked doing it. "

Now I don't know if science writing is my for sure path. In fact it may very well not be. Especially considering how much I enjoy teaching. But I thought I'd take a moment to share this article her, and tuck it away into the back of my mind, for the next time I find myself wondering.

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