Call for Early-Career Fellowship Applications

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, 2020 and end on August 31, 2020. The subsequent fellowship period will begin on July 1, 2020 and end on February 28, 2021. Applicants may express interest for one or both fellowship periods.

During 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 $4,200.


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 20, 2019. 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 December 9, 2019.



  1. Quick question- is there a way to send our referrer(s) a link to submit a reference letter before submitting the finished application? Thanks!

    • Siri Carpenter says:

      Hi Sam,
      Unfortunately, no. Submittable has just added this capability to their platform … as part of a package that costs more than 3x the package we currently have.

  2. Riefza Vebriansyah says:

    Would you mind giving more explanation about the third requirement, “Proposals for two TON features or multimedia stories”, please?

  3. Siri Carpenter says:

    No, they don’t.

  4. Do the writing samples have to be published work?

  5. Pingback: Call for Early-Career Fellowship Applications - European Youth Press

  6. Pingback: Early-career fellowships at The Open Notebook – Science Journalists Association of Australia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *