Southwest Environment

Stories written by University of Arizona students

Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science

Some Resources for Writing about Science

Improving Science Communication Skills

 Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, by Randy Olson (2009, Island Press). A marine biologist turned director and engaging author, Olson is also a film producer. Recent films include Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.   

Am I Making Myself Clear? by Cornelia Dean (2009, Harvard University Press). Dean uses her experience as a New York Times science writer and editor to help scientists learn more about writing and journalism, whether to work with or for popular media.  

Communicating on Climate Change: An Essential Resource for Journalists, Scientists and Educators, by Bud Ward and edited by Sunshine Menezes (2008, A Publication of the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting). Posted online at: 

A Scientist’s Guide to Talking with the Media: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists, by Richard Hayes and Daniel Grossman (2006, Rutgers University Press). 

Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirschenbaum (2009, Basic Books).

Writing Technique and Process

Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing, by Theodore A. Cheney (2005, Writer’s Digest Books).

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, by Julia Cameron (1998, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam). A series of essays exploring both the form and process of writing.

Spunk & Bite: A writer’s guide to punchier, more engaging language and style, by Arthur Plotnik (2005, Random House Reference).

Writing Book Proposals

Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book, by Elizabeth Lyon (2000, Perigree).

Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get it Published, by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato (2002, W.W. Norton & Company).

Science Reporting

A Field Guide for Science Writers, by Deborah Blum and Mary Knutson (1997, Oxford University Press).

Mapping for Stories: A Computer-Assisted Reporting Guide, by Jennifer LaFleur and Andy Lehren (2005, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.)

Style and Grammar

The AP Stylebook, The Associated Press. Guidebook on style used by many newspapers. Comparable to The Chicago Manual of Style, but easier to use. 

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (2000, Allyn & Bacon/Longman). A small, readable classic on grammar and style.