Here's is a FAQ I am asked often - I want to pursue #ScienceWriting or #scicomm but where to start?

I try to answer it in this 🧵 based on my experience and thoughts. I think it might help ppl on the same train.

Fellow science writers, feel free to chime in...
Disclaimer: Like most things, there is no one route/path that one follows. Many have tried various ways to get where they are in their journey in science writing and scicomm. So, what I share here are bits and pieces from some such journeys. If I have left out your path, pls add!
Here's mine: I was always interested in science+✍️ and when the Science Media Centre at IISc was looking for writers, I jumped in. Over time, thanks to @SekarSandhya and @Sudhira, I was writing science full time. Soon, our scope expanded and @SciResMatters was born :)
I had no degree in scicomm or a writing portfolio when I started. I surely hit a jackpot! I learnt many things on the way and looked at what other writers did elsewhere. Soon, I was at the helm of things and was supported by great colleagues. So, my start was not typical.
Now that #scicomm and #ScienceWriting has garnered much attention in India among those in science, here is what I would tell my younger self:
1. Identify your medium. Writing is just one of the many. Others include videos, graphics, art, etc. What do you want to do and why?
2. Familiarise yourself with efforts and initiatives in that medium. Suppose it's writing, look at outlets that publish science stories and what's been written about in them. In India, there are many today. I mention a few below (not exhaustive):
3. If you can, getting a formal degree in science journalism or communication is an option to get started. Is it worth the money? I don't know. But it has helped people gain a better perspective and build networks. There are universities in 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 that offer Masters' in these.
In 🇮🇳, I know of PhD programs in two institutes, NIAS and CSIR-NISCAIR, on #scicomm. I haven't heard of a Masters' in science journalism. Do correct me if I am wrong. But I do believe these two programs take very few students each year. I don't know the entry process though.
4. If a full-time course is not an option, there are many short, self-paced courses. Some here:
* "Writing in the Sciences" on Coursera, offered by Stanford [Was free years ago when I had taken].
*A self-paced online primer on science journalism by @WFSJ on their website.
* @SciDevNet has a couple of courses on their website
* Hot news: Science Journalism Masterclass from @Open_Notebook and it's FREE. Launched today.
* Periodical courses offered by @KnightCenterUT [ Discovered it last year and found some great courses. There's one that's on right now]
* @Sci_Rio has put up a short course on #scicomm and there may be more that's planned from them.
* @IISERPune offers a few courses on #scicomm
5. There are many books if that is how you would prefer learning before you start (and along the way, too). A few here:
* On Writing Well - William Zinsser
* The Craft of Science Writing - Edited by @SiriCarpenter
* The Science Writers' Handbook (haven't gt my hands on this yet)
6. Start a blog/ YouTube channel/ Instagram account or anything where you can showcase your #scicomm. Share it with all and seek feedback. While it may start as a hobby, it does add a great deal to your portfolio when you want to do land a dream #scicomm job. Keep looking for it.
7. Contribute to your university/institute magazine/outreach initiative. Most institutes have one. @manthan_iiserm @cogito137 come to my mind in India, but I am sure many do. Some of these accept entries from outsiders too. If none in yours, maybe start one. @Arunita_13 did that
8. Subscribe to newsletters on your medium of #scicomm. I love the one that @mnlimas curates on #ScienceWriting and it has some great resources and information each week. It also has a section on jobs/opportunities and gives you a quick glance at what is happening around you.
9. If you can, be a part of a prof org for scicomm. I don't know of any in 🇮🇳ATM. @ScienceWriters and @absw exist for writers. Upside - you have access to a big network and tons of resources. Downside - Could be costly for some of us, but look for opps where the fee is waived.
10. Mentorship opportunities, formal & informal are great. Look for possibilities for internships, in India and elsewhere. Due to the pandemic, many are remote and open to international applicants. See if you can work with a scicomm initiative part-time to test waters.
11. Last but not least -- simply dive in, and pitch it to an outlet. Many media outlets, in 🇮🇳 and elsewhere, do welcome pitches from freelancers. Learn the art of pitching and shoot an email. No harm trying!
PS: @sciresmatters accepts pitches and so do many!
Adding again that there is no one way! Each journey is different and I hope some of this gives some direction if you are left wondering. All the best in yours!
As we speak, this link from @Open_Notebook lands in my inbox.…

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