Resources

Frequently asked questions

Tertiary science communication/science journalism programs

Science communication and science journalism organisations

Other useful resources


 

Frequently asked questions about science communication

What is science communication?

Science communication is the communication of and about science to a general or non-expert audience. Science communicators work in research institutions, universities, government, the private sector, the media, education, cultural institutions, and the arts.

They write about science, they advise policy makers about scientific issues, they talk about scientific research to the general public and the media, they teach science in schools, they build scientific exhibits and curate exhibitions… whenever you read, see or hear something about science, there’s a very good chance a science communicator will have been involved.

What sort of jobs are available in science communication?

Science communication is diverse field that encompasses an ever-expanding list of professions, including, but certainly not limited to, the following:

  • Science journalists, writers, editors and broadcasters;
  • Public information, media, and public affairs officers working within research institutions, universities, government and non-government organisations, and private industry;
  • Science communication consultants;
  • Scientists who communicate their work directly to the general public through the mainstream and social media;
  • Science educators;
  • Science entertainers and performers;
  • Science communication researchers and academics;
  • Science museum staff, exhibit designers, writers and curators;
  • Science bloggers;
  • Science policy advisors and makers;
  • Science film and documentary film-makers, researchers and producers;
  • Artists whose work explores scientific themes and concepts.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how various ASC members came to their particular field, we have an ongoing series of weekly webinars with ASC members. Recordings of those are available through the ASC members portal (you must login to access these).

Do I need a science degree to be a science communicator?

No, although it can help. Many people come to science communication from a science background – for example having been a STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine) researcher or studied a STEMM subject at university. But others come to the profession from a non-scientific background, such as journalism, editing, public affairs or public relations, policy advisor or government relations.

Do I need a degree in communications/journalism/public relations?

Not necessarily although – as with a science degree – it can help to get you into a job in the area. Many science communicators find their way into the area from a science background and learn the communications/marketing/journalism skills on the job. Others start in the marketing/journalism/communications area, then decide to specialise in science.

How do I get into science communication?

If you’re a student, you might want to undertake a university undergraduate or post-graduate degree or diploma in science communication – you can see a list of them here.

If you’re a scientist looking to develop your communication skills, you might like to check out Inspiring Australia’s toolkit for science communication, or get in touch with the communications or media unit at your institution about opportunities for work experience or media training, for example.

Organisations like RiAus – Australia’s science channel – offer internships, while there are also a number of science communication consultancies that provide training in media and science communication.

Here are some articles about launching and building a career in science communication:

How do I get into science journalism?

While there aren’t many dedicated science journalists in the mainstream media in Australia at the moment, there are still plenty of opportunities to write about science for the mainstream, specialist and B2B media, particularly in a freelance capacity.

Here are some articles about building and developing a career in science writing and science journalism:

How do I find breaking science news stories to report?

There are a number of Australian and international organisations that provide access to embargoed and breaking news in science. Check out the section on resources for science journalists below.

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Science communication programs and courses

Australia and New Zealand

International

Science journalism programs and courses

Australia

International

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Science communication and science journalism organisations

Australia

International

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Other useful resources

Science journalists/writers

  • Australian Science Media Centre: An independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise
  • Eurekalert: An online science news service featuring health, medicine, science and technology news from leading research institutions and universities.
  • AlphaGalileo: A specialist science media service
  • The Open Notebook: The story behind the best science stories
  • Storyology: Australia’s premier journalism and storytelling festival, from The Walkley Foundation.
  • Freeline: the Australian Freelance Writers network
  • Successful freelancing: an ASC event featuring Australian Writers’ Centre founder Valerie Khoo, and freelance science journalist Bianca Nogrady, chaired by Ian Woolf
  • Science Media Centre NZ

Science communicators

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