The Open Notebook

I’m the co-founder (with my colleague Jeanne Erdmann) and editor-in-chief of The Open Notebook, a 501(c)(3) non-profit publication dedicated to helping science journalists improve their skills. The Open Notebook interviews some of the most skillful science journalists working today to tell the stories behind the best science stories; publishes reported features on science journalism craft; annotates award-winning stories to reveal what makes them successful; offers a large database of successful query letters; publishes a craft-focused advice column; and produces a variety of series that shine a light onto the working lives and habits of science journalists.


CraftofScienceWritingCoverThe Craft of Science Writing: Selections from The Open Notebook

The Open Notebook‘s first book, The Craft of Science Writing, published February 1, 2020, is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book form wherever books are sold.

The book, a mix of previously published and new material, includes behind-the-scenes interviews with leading journalists and in-depth essays on the craft of science writing, offering advice on topics such as:

  • How to make the transition into science writing
  • How to find and pitch a science story to editors
  • How to wade through a sea of technicalities in scientific papers to spot key facts
  • How to evaluate scientific and statistical claims
  • How to report on controversial topics
  • How to structure a science story, from short news to long features
  • How to engage readers in a science story and hold their attention to the end


Christie Aschwanden, Siri Carpenter, Tina Casagrand, Jeanne Erdmann, Dan Fagin, Dan Ferber, Azeen Ghorayshi, Geoffrey Giller, Laura Helmuth, Jane C. Hu, Alla Katsnelson, Roxanne Khamsi, Maggie Koerth-Baker, Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Apoorva Mandavilli, Amanda Mascarelli, Robin Meadows, Kate Morgan, Tien Nguyen, Michelle Nijhuis, Aneri Pattani, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Mallory Pickett, Kendall Powell, Tasneem Raja, Sandeep Ravindran, Julia Rosen, Christina Selby, Alexandra Witze, Wudan Yan, Ed Yong, Rachel Zamzow, Sarah Zhang, Carl Zimmer

Advance praise for The Craft of Science Writing:

“If I had to strip my go-to shelf of reporting and writing books down to a very few, this one would remain. I am neither a scientist nor a science journalist, but The Craft of Science Writing offers valuable tips for any reporter or editor, of any experience level, covering any topic. In an era when facts are under assault, this book is especially welcome.” — Jacqui Banaszynski, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter and editor, Knight Chair Professor Emerita at the Missouri School of Journalism, and editor of Nieman Storyboard

“Since 2010, The Open Notebook has served as an indispensable online guide to science writing. With The Craft of Science Writing, they’ve distilled those years of insights into an excellent survey of the field. You’ll find the nuts and bolts here—how to read a scientific paper, how to craft a lede, and so on. But you’ll also get a sense of what it’s like to wake up every morning and face the delights and dread that this job brings.” — Carl Zimmerjournalist and author of She Has Her Mother’s Laugh

“Listen up, journalism professors, students, and media professionals! You won’t find a better guide to the art (and craft) of science writing than this book. The Open Notebook has produced a fascinating, informative, empathetic, and pragmatic tour through an increasingly vital set of skills. Whether you cover politics, education, national security, transportation, or business, the ability to write intelligently about science is now essential. Luckily for us, TON has distilled almost ten years’ of expert observation and insight to light the way.” — Jennifer Kahn, contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and Narrative Program Lead, University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

“Accessible, informative, and engaging, The Craft of Science Writing can serve as an excellent resource for both classroom instruction and self-study. A welcome contribution!” — Barbara Gastel, MD, professor and Science Journalism Program coordinator, Texas A&M University