Writing guidelines for scientists
Writing essays and opinion pieces for The Transmitter
The Transmitter solicits essays and opinion pieces from scientists and clinicians working in neuroscience and related fields. We aim to present a variety of voices and perspectives and to offer neuroscientists a space to highlight important issues and debates that might otherwise lack a venue.
- Essay topics can include either neuroscience itself or issues relating to the culture and practice of neuroscience.
- These pieces reflect your position as an expert in the field and should focus on an area of research or a cultural or practical issue in which you have direct experience.
- Topics must be specific to neuroscience, rather than science or academia more broadly.
- These pieces work best when they have a strong point of view. This can include your opinion, speculation and personal experience. Essays can:
- highlight a controversy in the field,
- identify a new trend or a barrier to progress,
- make a call to action,
- tell a personal story that reflects a broader issue in the field,
- describe a case study outlining how you overcame a challenge or developed a community resource.
- We do NOT accept essays that simply summarize your own work. In essays about a broader issue, feel free to reference your work in the piece and use it as an example to illustrate a broader point.
Length: ~1,000-1,200 words
Style: These pieces should be written in simple, clear language that is understandable to neuroscientists across the field. This is substantially different from the typical academic style and level of a journal paper or review.
Honorarium: Scientist-written essays come with a $1,000 honorarium.
To pitch an idea: Write a paragraph or two describing the scope of the piece and your “take.” Summarize your basic argument in a sentence or two, explain why you are the right person to write about it, note why it’s timely, and briefly describe specific examples or evidence you’ll use to support your argument. The summary should be written in a non-technical style that is accessible to all neuroscientists. For submissions and questions, email [email protected]
Writing guidelines for journalists
The Transmitter pitching guidelines for journalists
The Transmitter is the destination for neuroscientists seeking news and analysis of developments in their field. The site covers all areas of neuroscience, with a special focus on basic research.
We seek pitches from freelance journalists for news stories, trends, explainers and features that would interest our audience of researchers and clinicians. We also consider ideas for Q&As with, or profiles of, interesting scientists.
Your pitch should dig into evidence-based research in some area of neuroscience. Or maybe you have the inside track on a controversial or retracted study. We also cover policy developments and societal trends affecting the broader neuroscience research community, including principal investigators, clinicians and early-career scientists.
We usually have the bases covered when it comes to stories about studies published in major journals and described in mainstream press releases. But you are welcome to pitch such stories if you have exclusive access or a unique angle.
What we’re looking for in a pitch:
Your pitch should tell us what’s new and exciting about your idea, which experts you have interviewed for it and whom else you plan to interview, and why this story is important to our audience. Please search our site for coverage of the topics your idea relates to and explain how your story would advance that coverage. Also, make sure your proposed story hasn’t already been covered elsewhere. You should tell us a little bit about yourself and why you’re well positioned to write this story for The Transmitter. Please disclose any potential conflicts of interest you may have, and include links to your published clips.
Our pay starts at $1 per word.
Please email your pitch to [email protected].
You may republish any of our articles for free, as long as you follow these guidelines:
- Credit the author.
- Indicate that the article was originally published on The Transmitter, the leading site for neuroscience news and perspectives.
- Link to the article on our site and to our homepage.
- Include our logo.
- Do not edit the article text in any way, but feel free to use your own headline and teaser text as appropriate.
- Notify us before you republish the article, according to our Terms and Conditions
- Reach out to us if you are interested in translating our content to a different language.
- Please send us the new URL once you have republished The Transmitter story.
If you have any questions, please email [email protected].
Here at The Transmitter, we encourage open debate about the research we cover, and we welcome a diversity of perspectives. To keep this conversation constructive, we have set guidelines for comments. We will actively moderate any comments that we feel violate our standards, and we will ban repeat offenders.
By making any posting to any part of this website, you hereby grant us permission to use, adapt, copy, distribute, store, transmit, reformat and publicly display your content for the purpose of providing our services and tools to you and other visitors to The Transmitter.
For our full Terms and Conditions, click here. Thank you for reading The Transmitter.
Be polite: We will not tolerate disrespectful comments of any kind.
Stick to the science: The Transmitter is a news site, not a resource for medical advice. We will delete comments that recommend treatments or contain claims that don’t square with scientific evidence.
Stay on topic: We will moderate comments that are not relevant to the discussion, or that contain links to commercial products. Please refrain from repeating the same comment across multiple articles.
Be brief: Please keep your comment to fewer than 500 words. If you have a news tip or want to pitch an article, please email [email protected].
If you have questions or comments about these guidelines, email us at [email protected].
Interviews with The Transmitter
If you have received a media inquiry from a reporter at The Transmitter, they may want to interview you for a story they are working on or talk to you about a potential story. Being interviewed by a reporter is not a guarantee that a story will appear on The Transmitter, nor that you will be quoted in a story.
The Transmitter does not pay interviewees. Paying a source for information is generally considered to be a violation of journalistic ethics.
If you are interviewed for a reported news article or feature, you may be quoted alongside other people whose views differ from your own.
Consistent with high-quality journalism and our own editorial integrity, The Transmitter does not allow “quote approval” from sources, nor give interviewees the opportunity to review drafts of reported articles before publication. Our reporters verify facts and review paraphrased quotes with sources; all stories are also independently fact-checked prior to publication. We do not permit sources to change their quotes after publication. (By contrast, if you write an article for us, you must review the final copy before publication.)
We ask our reporters to audio record all of their interviews whenever possible and to take notes as well. This process not only helps with fact-checking, but it also makes it easier to confirm quotes in the rare instance that a dispute arises later on. Our reporters are asked to let sources know that they are recording an interview at the start of a phone call.
- Once a reporter has contacted you and identified themselves, all communication is considered to be “on the record” unless you and the reporter agree that it is not. A reporter can quote or paraphrase what you say on the record and attribute it to you in a published story.
- Anything you say “off the record” cannot be published. For interview material to be considered off the record, it must be declared so ahead of time. Alternatively, you may choose to simply not disclose to a reporter any information you don’t want in print.
- “On background” can mean different things, but generally it means that the information you share can be published without using your name. Information that you provide on background, like anything said off the record, should be declared as such before you disclose it.
Words matter to us at Spectrum. As journalists, we know they have the power not only to inform and educate, but also to shape cultural attitudes. That’s why it’s important to us to use language that is respectful of the autism community and reflects current usage in the field.
We have made changes to our style guide over the past several years. For example, we now call autism a condition rather than a disorder or a disease; we refer to those in a study as participants rather than subjects; and we never refer to anyone with a condition as not ‘normal.’
Until 2018, Spectrum’s style was to use person-first language (‘person with autism’) when referring to people on the spectrum. The rationale for this language is to put a person’s humanity first, before their condition. We adopted this style based on recommendations from the American Psychological Association and the National Center on Disability and Journalism, and based on what professionals in the field tend to use.
But language evolves, and many people in the autism community now strongly prefer identity-first language (‘autistic person’). This terminology embraces autism as part of a person’s identity rather than a condition that is separate from them. Some professionals are also beginning to prefer this language. The style guide of the National Center on Disability and Journalism no longer recommends person-first language. Instead, it simply recommends asking a person how they prefer to be identified.
In light of this shift, as of July 2018 we use person-first and identity-first language interchangeably. As always, if a writer expresses a preference, we will defer to that. Our writers also ask sources on the spectrum how they prefer to be identified in a story.
We believe using person-first and identity-first language interchangeably is the most inclusive choice, as it makes room for both preferences. Our intention underlying both approaches is the same: to write about autism in a way that is accurate, clear and respectful.