Writing for a general audience
Zinsser, William. "Science, Technology and Nature." Chapter 15 in On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. 30th Anniversary ed. Harper Perennial, 2006, pp. 147–64. ISBN: 9780060891541.
Kanigel, Robert. "The Science Essay." Chapter 22 in A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers. 2nd ed. Edited by Deborah Blum, Mary Knudson, and Robin Marantz Henig. Oxford University Press, 2005, pp.145–50. ISBN: 9780195174991.
|Session 1 Assignment (PDF)|
The pleasures and challenges of science writing
The science essay
Introduce Essay 1 assignment
Lightman, Alan. "The Accidental Universe." Harper's, December 2011.
Quammen, David. "Deadly Contact." National Geographic, October 2007.
|Session 2 Assignment (PDF)|
Description: Accuracy + making it fresh
A writer's voice
|"From Devils to Mathematics." (PDF) Example student work. Courtesy of an MIT student. Used with permission.||Session 3 Assignment (PDF)|
|4||WORKSHOP Essay 1 (full class and small groups)||[EH] Chapter 1, and skim chapter 2|| |
ALSO, Select book for Book Review. See the Book List for Review Assignment (PDF)
What do we mean by revision?
Discuss News and Profile article assignments
Short News Articles
As you read these stories, note what they have in common: what kinds of things do the writers do? Where does certain information, such as where a study is published, go? What do the introductions—or"leads," as journalists call them—do? What is the"take-away" message—the biggest point—for each of these stories? Do the stories make it clear why this point matters? How is technical complexity handled? Do you notice images or analogies that the writers use to make the concepts more easily understood?
Read several articles from different disciplines on ScienceNews.org
Kolata, Gina. "Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Humans' Deadly Ills," The New York Times, February 11, 2013.
Zimmer, Carl. "Tipsy Fruit Flies on a Mission," The New York Times, February 16, 2012.
Chandler, David L. "A Cooler Way to Protect Silicon Surfaces: New Room-Temperature Process could Lead to Less Expensive Solar Cells and Other Electronic Devices," MIT News Office, February 13, 2013.
Trafton, Anne. "New way to Stop the Bleeding: Nanoscale Biological Coating developed at MIT could Prevent Battlefield Deaths," MIT News Office, January 10, 2012.
———. "Bringing a New Perspective to Infectious Disease: Enlisted in the Fight Against HIV, MIT Engineers and Scientists Contribute New Technology, Materials and Computational Studies," MIT News Office, February 8, 2013.
|Session 5 Assignment (PDF)|
Discuss news writing
Introduce & discuss Investigative Essay assignment
|[EH] Chapter 5: The Nitty-Gritty, and Chapter 6: Refining Your Draft||Session 6 Assignment (PDF)|
Discuss/critique pitches (small groups)
Pick 1 story idea to pursue
[EH] Chapter 3: Research and the Interview
New York Times profiles, & student-written profile (see assignment for links)
|Session 7 Assignment (PDF)|
The profile: Writing about science by writing about scientists
Brainstorm Profile/Archive assignment ideas, incl. background reading
Issues re: News stories?
Burgos, Ana. "A Professor of Puzzles." Angels, 2012.
An example of student work, published online in the MIT student writing collection Angles.
|Session 8 Assignment (PDF)|
|9||WORKSHOP 2 News Stories (full class) and small groups|| |
Kolbert, Elizabeth. "The Catastrophist." The New Yorker, June 29, 2009, 39–45.
|Session 9 Assignment (PDF)|
Return News stories
Discuss Kolbert & Johnson
Progress report: Profiles/Archival stories
Angell, Marcia. "The Illusions of Psychiatry," The New York Review of Books, July 14, 2011.
———. "The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?" The New York Review of Books, June 23, 2011.
Freedman, David. "Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Science." The Atlantic, October 2010.
|Session 10 Assignment (PDF)|
Complex issues: Getting readers to think like scientists
The research process: Why we cite
Pollan, Michael. "Our Decrepit Food Factories," The New York Times Magazine, December 16, 2007.
Steingraber, Sandra. "The Whole Fracking Enchilada." Orion, September/October 2010.
Elizabeth, Royte. "Fracking Our Food Supply." The Nation, November 2012.
|Session 11 Assignment (PDF)|
Taking a stand: Writing to persuade
The research process: Note-taking
Discuss Research proposals
|REVISE News Story|
Library session to work on Investigative Essay
Note: class meets in the library
|[EH] Chapter 4||Session 13 Assignment (PDF)|
The research process: Citing, quoting, paraphrasing
Writing and Structure (Hancock and handouts)
Organizing a longer article
|Session 14 Assignment (PDF)|
|15||WORKSHOP 1 Profile article (full class), and small groups||Specter, Michael. "The Mosquito Solution." The New Yorker, July 2012, 38–46.||Session 15 Assignment (PDF)|
|16||Organizing a longer article||Session 16 Assignment (PDF)|
|17||Reports on journal and book sources|| |
"The Unwanted Connection." (PDF) Example student work. Courtesy of an MIT student. Used with permission.
"True Colors." (PDF) Example student work. Courtesy of Jessica Fujimori. Used with permission.
|Session 17 Assignment (PDF)|
WORKSHOP 2 Essays full class
Return Profiles/archival articles
|Session 18 Assignment (PDF)|
|19||WORKSHOP small groups|| |
Royte, Elizabeth. "Signs of Life," The New York Times, March 30, 2012.
Bartusiak, Marcia. "Go Up, Young Man," (PDF) TheWashington Post, January 8, 1995, Final Edition, SECTION: BOOK WORLD; PAGE X10.
Royte, Elizabeth. "The Poisoned Earth," The New York Times, September 14, 2012.
Fortey, Richard. "That's Life?" The New York Times, March 8, 2013.
Pimm, Stuart. "Careers: A guide to the life scientific." Nature 496, no. 297 (2013).
"Breaking the Stereotypes for Engineers." (PDF) Example student work. Courtesy of an MIT student. Used with permission.
|Session 19 Assignment (PDF)|
|20||The Book Review: an important genre||Work on Revision of Investigative Essay (no assignment sheet)|
|21||Revision issues||Session 21 Assignment (PDF)|
Discussion of favorite science writing
|Work on Book Review (no assignment sheet)|
|23||Movie: TBA||Session 23 Assignment (PDF)|
|24||WORKSHOP Book Reviews: 1 full class, & small groups|| |
COMPLETE WORKSHOP: Respond online to group members
ALSO: Work on Re-revision of Investigative Essay
Return Book Reviews
Share "best writing"
|Session 25 Assignment (PDF)|
Share "best writing"
Summing up & reflecting
All work due