We’re now accepting applications for the next round of The Open Notebook/Burroughs Wellcome Fund fellowship for early-career science writers. (See here for stories written by our previous fellows.)
The next fellowship period will begin on January 17, 2022 and will end on November 17, 2022. (The exact timing of fellowship start and end dates can be flexible depending on fellows’ needs. In arranging fellowships, we can work around issues such as graduate program completion dates, other journalism fellowships, family responsibilities, and work visa approvals processes. We are also flexible about making schedule changes after fellowships begin to accommodate major life events.)
This ten-month fellowship is remote and part-time. Fellows will report and write five 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 take part in a Slack-based professional discussion group composed of former fellowship participants and TON editors. During the fellowship, fellows will be responsible for hosting two informal Slack discussions centered on aspects of craft that are of interest to them.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, each fellow will receive a stipend of $4,000.
The fellowship is open to early-career science journalists with less than two years of regular professional science writing experience. Note the following details:
- Internships and student work do not count toward this requirement.
- Exceptions to this requirement may also be made for cases in which an applicant has more than two years of professional experience but some or all of that experience is not in English.
- Graduate students in the sciences who are interested in science writing are eligible.
- International applicants are welcome. However, applications, including writing samples and letters of recommendation, must be in English.
PLEASE NOTE: Although it is part-time, this fellowship requires a significant weekly time commitment, and juggling the fellowship along with a full-time job can be challenging. Prospective fellows who have full-time jobs are welcome to apply, but should consider carefully whether they will be able to devote sufficient time to completing articles as specified in the fellowship description. This includes making time during regular business hours for 1) conducting phone interviews with sources, 2) weekly phone meetings with mentors, 3) multiple rounds of editing and revision for most stories, 4) participating in conversations in the fellowship Slack community.
Priority will be given to applicants who demonstrate:
- A strong intention to work primarily as a professional science journalist
- Some training and/or experience (it does not have to be a lot) writing stories about science for the general public
- Familiarity with The Open Notebook and the types of topics we tend to cover
- An ability to generate good feature ideas suitable for The Open Notebook
- Strong writing ability
Required Application Materials
The application form for this fellowship includes the following main elements (as well as a few briefer details):
- A brief summary of what training and/or experience you have had in writing stories about science for the general public. This may include coursework as well as science writing experiences gained through internships, freelance assignments, staff jobs, or unpaid roles such as an institutional newsletter or your own blog. (75 words maximum)
- A letter of interest explaining why you are seeking the fellowship, your skills and previous experiences in writing about science for the public, and what you hope to learn from the experience. Please also tell us about your overall plans for during the fellowship period (will you simultaneously be a grad student? Freelancer? Full-time employee somewhere? Doing something else?). (400 words maximum)
- Proposals for two TON features or multimedia stories that you think would be suitable for publication at The Open Notebook. These can take the form of behind-the-story writer interviews; reported features on some element of the craft of science writing; roundtable discussions; 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 400 words.)
- A resume or CV
- One letter of reference
- Up to two writing or multimedia samples of work aimed at the general public (not scientific/academic writing). (Samples must be in English. Translated materials are acceptable.)
- Optional: Additional background about you. We strongly encourage writers from all types of backgrounds to apply. If you are a member of any group or community that has historically been marginalized or underrepresented in U.S. journalism (This could include applicants who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, from a low- or middle-income country, disabled or neurodivergent, first-generation college-educated, etc.), we invite you to let us know here. This is entirely optional, and any information you disclose here will be kept confidential. (50 words maximum)
Applications, including letters of reference, must be received by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Central time on October 21, 2021. 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 will be announced by December 18, 2021.
If you have any questions, please email Siri Carpenter: firstname.lastname@example.org