Writing about health and medical studies is part of the larger genre of writing about science. Perhaps the best science journalism site/blog out there is The Open Notebook, chock full of advice, tips, guides and inspiration.
We’ve highlighted their work here before, and now they’ve gone above and beyond with a special section aimed at new science journalists — though there’s plenty of gold there for veterans as well.
They’ve brought together dozens of their best articles and organized them in easy-to-skim topics: Breaking In; Finding Ideas; Pitching; Story Planning and Reporting; Writing Accurately, Clearly and Engagingly; Fact-Checking, Self-Editing and Revising; The Business and Economics of Freelancing; Being Part of the Science Journalism World; and Looking for Inspiration?
Here’s a selection of the articles they highlight that particularly apply to journalists covering medical research:
- How to Read a Scientific Paper
- Spotting Shady Statistics
- Getting the Most out of Scientific Conferences
- Ask TON: Sending Embargoed Papers for Outside Comment
- Ask TON: Finding Patients
- Navigating Conflicts of Interest
- Carl Zimmer’s Brief Guide to Writing Explainers
- Ask TON: Dumb Questions
- Beyond the Press-Release Rat Race: Fresh Ways to Cover Science News
But that’s only a sampling. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that just about every article they highlight on their new guide page is relevant in some way to reporting on medical studies. Here are some others especially worth checking out:
- Is Anyone Out There? Sourcing News Stories
- Is This a Story? How to Evaluate Your Ideas Before You Pitch
- How to Use Reporting Skills from Any Beat for Science Journalism
- Including Diverse Voices in Science Stories
- Ask TON: How to Fact-Check
- Surviving the Grind of Fact-Checking
- Going Digital: Inside New Science Journalism Outlets
I’ve been reporting on medical studies for about eight years, yet I got excited about reading these stories. I’m hoping to read one every two days until I’ve made it through them all!