Call for Proposals: Early-Career Fellowship Program

We are now accepting applications for the next two rounds of The Open Notebook/Burroughs Wellcome Fund fellowship for early-career science writers. (See here for stories written by our previous fellows.)

The Fellowship

The next TON/BWF fellowship period will begin on January 2, 2018 and end on August 31, 2018. The subsequent fellowship period will begin on July 1, 2018 and end on February 28, 2019. Applicants may express interest for one or both fellowship periods.

logo-bwfDuring the eight-month fellowship period, fellows will report and write six articles for publication at The Open Notebook—a mix of “story behind the story” interviews and reported features—with the guidance of a mentor who will help shape story ideas, provide reporting and writing guidance, edit final copy, and offer career-development mentoring. Fellows (and mentors) will also be part of a professional discussion group composed of former fellowship participants and TON editors.

The fellowship will be remote and will be part-time. Thanks to a generous grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, each fellow will receive a stipend of $3,000.


The fellowship is open to early-career science writers with fewer than two years of professional science writing experience. (Internships and student work do not count toward this requirement). Graduate students interested in science writing are eligible. Prospective fellows must be available to devote sufficient time to completing articles as specified in the fellowship description. (International applicants are welcome. Note that applications, including writing samples and letters of recommendation, must be in English.)

Selection Criteria

Priority will be given to applicants who demonstrate an ability to propose good feature ideas and who show strong writing ability.

Required Application Materials

  • A resume or CV
  • A letter of interest explaining why you are seeking the fellowship and what you hope to learn from the experience (500 words maximum)
  • Proposals for two TON features or multimedia stories. These can take the form of a behind-the-story writer interview; a reported feature on some element of the craft of science writing; or some other creative, feature-length project centered on the craft of science writing. (Combined length of these two proposals must be no more than 500 words.)
  • Up to three writing or multimedia samples
  • One or two (no more) letters of reference


Applications, including letters of reference, must be received by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Central time on October 15, 2017. Note: The Submittable application process requires applicants to provide an email address for each person writing a letter of reference; the system will then send a unique link to each reference. Applicants should complete applications early enough to allow references to also submit their letters on time.

Selections for both fellowship periods will be announced by November 30, 2017.



  1. Rachel Crowell says:

    When I submitted my application, I only had one letter of recommendation. Another person just got back to me saying they could write me one as well. Is there a way I could add their recommendation despite already having submitted?

    • Siri Carpenter says:

      Dear Rachel: I’ll email you to work this out; I need to figure out whether Submittable will allow you to reopen a completed application. If not, we’ll work something out.

  2. Hi! When I save an email address for my recommender (but don’t submit the application), does the email go out? My recommender hasn’t seen an email in his inbox, so I’m wondering if that’s because I haven’t submitted the application yetor because it has gone to his spam folder. Thank you!


    I just wanted to clarify that the object of the two proposals is to examine how the applicant might be able to pitch/propose pieces that would fit into the TONs topics such as ‘interviews’ and ‘reported feature’?
    And the proposals have to cover some aspect of science writing?

  4. Where can the letters of recommendation be sent (if the writer would prefer to send them directly rather than give them to the applicant to attach to the application)?

    • Siri Carpenter says:

      Dear Aneri: The link to submit applications via Submittable is now live. Referrers will be able to submit letters directly through Submittable. After you have enter their email address(es) into the system, Submittable will send them an email providing a link to which they can send letters.

  5. My writting samples are writen in spanish, should I translate them to apply?

  6. Siri Carpenter says:

    Thanks for flagging this. The Submittable link will be available after September 18.

  7. The submission link doesn’t work.

  8. The link doesn’t work.