- How Science Works
- Sources and Experts: Where to Find Them and How to Vet Them
- Making Sense of Science Stats
- Editing for Story
- Editing Controversial Science
- Holding Science to Account
- Covering Health Care
- Climate and the Environment
- Fact-Checking Science Journalism: How to Make Sure Your Stories Are True
Illustrating Complex Science Stories
- The Role of Visuals in Science Journalism
- The Process of Building Science-Centric Graphics
- Strategies for Using Visuals to Put Breaking Science in Context
- Special Considerations for Data Visualization
- Uncertainty and Misinformation
- Editorial Illustration, Photography, and Moving Images
- Additional Reading and Resources
- About the Author
- Social Media and Reader Engagement
- About This Handbook
Welcome to the KSJ Science Editing Handbook, a project of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT, supported by the Kavli Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.
Reporting on science can be confusing, even intimidating. Experts often use jargon and statistics to explain their work. People who posture as experts may use the same approach to dazzle and obfuscate. Both may leave reporters and editors uncertain how to critically evaluate and challenge assertions. Yet it’s important that journalists not only explain science clearly but cover it as a beat, as they do politics, business, or sports. They must ask tough questions, analyze information, and demand that extraordinary claims be supported by extraordinary evidence. Key to holding that standard is the skeptical and sharp-eyed editor who knows what questions to ask, and who pushes reporters to dig deeper, confirm the facts, and get the real story.
Much easier said than done.
Most editors are generalists, working with teams to coordinate coverage across a wide and varied landscape. But, in this role, they’re also the primary filters of science information for most Americans, who, according to a 2017 Pew study, report getting most of their science news from general-interest publications.
This handbook aims to draw lessons from those who specialize in science writing and editing — to provide their insights, knowledge, tips, and resources to all editors. The goal is to help ensure that science journalism meets the highest standards of quality no matter what the publication or the audience.
The handbook is designed to empower editors to ask the right questions, enable them to spot faulty reporting or flawed science, and to provide information on best practices in reporting on science and the many subjects, now more critical than ever, that it touches, whether the environment or a pandemic.
The handbook provides practical tips for editors. But it also seeks to recognize the unique challenges and decisions they face. Many of the lessons are illustrated by example — when science journalism shone as well as when it was left wanting.
The chapters are written by some of the most widely celebrated science editors and reporters working today. Each chapter ends with reference materials and other resources to help editors make the best decisions.
We hope that you find this handbook helpful. We also hope that it can help you find and tell science stories that both engage the public and strengthen its trust in science journalism.
We welcome your feedback, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deborah Blum, KSJ Director
Joshua Hatch, Handbook Co-Editor
Nicholas Jackson, Handbook Co-Editor