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What is it like to be a commercial Science Writer?

Posted by Kate Marshall on 25-Aug-2017 11:19:54
What's it like to be a science writer?

As scientists, we can sometimes find ourselves faced with a choice between different career paths. At this crossroads, following one path lets you continue along your research career, while the other takes you in a different direction entirely. When I finished my PhD, I knew a career in research wasn’t for me, so instead I followed my passion for science communication. That’s why I’m now a Science Writer here at BioStrata, a specialist life science marketing agency, where I happily get to satiate my own curiosity about science, while also being able to tell the rest of the world all about it!

But what is it really like to be a Science Writer? And could it be a good career option for you? To help you decide, below I’ve shared exactly what I do and why I love it so much!

 

If you're interested in finding out more about our open science writer roles, take a look at our current opportunities.

 

What does a day in the life of a Science Writer look like?

Okay, so this is kind of a trick question, because no one day is ever the same! Take todayI wrote about why I love being a Science Writer. But yesterday, I interviewed a researcher about a new three-dimensional cell culture technology that could transform cancer research and drug discovery. Last week, I wrote about an astronaut’s experiments in space, and the help he got from schoolchildren back on Earth. And a few months back, some of my colleagues and I spent a day exploring the impressive Francis Crick Institute in London, and then I wrote a blog about it!

Not only are the subjects I get to write about diverse, but so too is the type of writing I do. During my PhD, I mainly wrote research articles, but now I get to write in a whole host of styles and formats. On any one day, I could be writing trade media articles, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, blogs, email copy, application notes or social media posts—the list goes on.

The content I write has to resonate with many different audiences (depending on the commercial objectives of the client campaign we’re supporting), so I’m constantly changing my style and approach depending on what will have the most impact. Tomorrow, I could be crafting a conversational blog about an upcoming drug discovery conference, and the next day I could be writing a more formal trade media article on how profiling biomarkers in patient blood can help to create personalized cancer therapies. Then I might write an email to promote the article, where I’ll need to come up with a number of catchy and compelling subject lines that entice our target audiences to open the email (while ensuring the content inside delivers on the promise of the subject line!). It’s all in a week’s work at BioStrata.

I also get to work collaboratively with our account management teams, whether that’s receiving writing briefs from them, interviewing a researcher, brainstorming ideas for an infographic, or working together to perfect a piece of writing before it goes to print. Invariably, it involves lots of tea, cake and/or a Haribo or two (as well as a lot of satisfying teamwork, of course).

 

Why do I love being a Science Writer?

I did say that no day is ever the same, but there is one exception: I always write about fascinating science. This could be groundbreaking research or the latest technological innovation that stands to revolutionize a scientific field, which few other people even know about (yet). Not only do I have the privilege of imparting these intriguing new insights to the world, but it’s also quite mind-boggling to think that, by doing so, I could be contributing to the future discovery of a key scientific breakthrough or life-saving new medicine.

I write about a wide variety of subjects, so to do this job, I must learn, learn again, and then learn some more. Luckily, I love learning. In fact, ‘Live to Learn’ is one of BioStrata’s core values and something that really defines our culture. And I have to say, I don’t think I have ever learned so much in my life about so many diverse subjects. A PhD is quite a specialist undertaking, usually focusing on one topic, so being able to diversify your learning across a range of different fields is like taking a huge breath of fresh air.

The intellectual stimulation I get every day is another reason I love my job. Not only are my colleagues talented, creative and quick-witted people from whom I learn a lot, but the writing projects I do often involve absorbing complex science that requires in-depth, riveting research. And when you come to really understand the science, you feel a deep sense of achievement when you write a high-quality piece that clients and readers love, and you get to see tangible evidence of all your hard work.

 

Science writing—it’s an art as well as a science

Turning complex science into compelling stories that captivate your readers is both an art and a science. It means having to reconcile the scientific, analytical part of your mind with the creative, writing part. If like me, you find that these parts of your mind are like two sides of the same coin, then here is a way to indulge both your scientific and creative talents all at once. If you also relish a challenge, love learning, and enjoy both working alone and as part of a like-minded team, then being a Science Writer could be the right career for you too.

If you’d like to find out more about working in life science marketing and the opportunities available at BioStrata, have a look at the science writing jobs we currently have open within our team.

 

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