Are you a freelance journalist with a hot scoop or juicy scandal, a compelling profile of a scientist, or an original take on a science policy issue? If so, bring it to the award-winning News department of Science, the flagship research journal from the world’s largest general science society. We’re eager to break news and tell stories that no other science journalist has found. Here are some things you should know before pitching a story to us. The editors and writers of the News department are professional journalists and produce much of our news content. But we have plenty of appetite for freelance contributions—everything from 140-word news briefs to 2500-word features to investigative projects. About half of our online-only stories and a quarter of the stories in the weekly print issue are either assigned to freelancers we like working with or are pitched by freelancers.
Because we receive all the big press releases and embargoed information from major journals (Science, Nature, PNAS, etc.), you will have very little luck successfully pitching a study from these. Our biggest piece of advice for selling us on a straight research story is this: Pitch us hidden gems.
Note that we don’t take stories from academic researchers, company representatives, or public information officers wishing to promote their institutions. Freelance writers should also disclose any potential conflicts of interest when they pitch a story, whether it be a personal relationship with the subject or key source of a story or previous work for the institution that would be written about. If you currently pen press releases for a university, we won’t let you write about them, but if you did a feature for a school magazine a year ago and nothing since, we likely will. Just be transparent with us.
Science covers news in all areas of science, from geology to genetics, as well as science policy and issues important to the scientific community, such as science, technology, engineering, and math education and sexual harassment. We make it a priority to include women and people of color as quoted sources in our work to capture a range of perspectives. In print we publish news briefs, longer news analysis and trends stories, and features. Online, where we publish multiple daily stories, we focus on breaking news, though we are also interested in enterprise stories—that is, stories not tied to press releases, such as explainers on trending news and Q&As with interesting researchers.
For most stories pay is per word, with rate depending on experience. Our rates begin at $0.75 per word for online-only stories and $1.25 per word for print-only stories. For certain types of stories, we pay a flat rate negotiated in advance—a typical online Q&A, for example, is $500. We cover travel expenses if agreed upon in advance and pay for reporting by the hour under certain circumstances.