Early-Career Fellowship Program

Applications for the 2022 fellowship period have closed. We typically open applications for our fellowship in mid-September each year. Please watch this space.

Every year, The Open Notebook offers a paid, part-time fellowship program for early-career science journalists. During the course of this fellowship, fellows work with a mentor to plan, report, and write articles for publication at The Open Notebook and become part of the TON editorial team. This ten-month program offers fellows the opportunity to explore their career interests and passions and to sharpen their skills as part of a talented, supportive, diverse community of past and present fellows and mentors. This fellowship is made possible through the generous support of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
 

The Fellowship Experience

During this fellowship, each fellow will pitch, report, and write five articles for publication at The Open Notebook—a mix of “story behind the story” interviews and reported features. They will have weekly phone or video meetings with a mentor who is an experienced science journalist and who will help them shape story ideas, provide reporting and writing guidance, edit fellows’ article drafts, and offer general craft and career-development advice and guidance.

Typically, fellows’ articles go through several rounds of editing. As each article nears completion, fellows are also responsible for fact-checking their articles using TON’s fact-checking guidelines and for collecting demographic data about their sources as part of our effort to track the diversity of our sources.

Fellows and mentors also take part in a Slack discussion group composed of other current and former fellowship participants and TON editors. During the fellowship, fellows will be responsible for hosting two informal Zoom discussions centered on aspects of craft that are of interest to them. Membership in this Slack community will continue after the fellowship ends.

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 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.

The fellowship period is normally January 30—November 30. The exact timing of fellowship start and end dates is flexible depending on fellows’ circumstances. In arranging fellowships, we can work around issues such as graduate program completion dates, other journalism fellowships or internships, family responsibilities, and work visa approvals processes. We are also flexible about making schedule changes after fellowships begin to accommodate major professional and life events.

 

Eligibility

The fellowship is open to early-career science journalists with less than two years of regular professional science writing experience. Please note the following details:

  • Internships and student work do not count toward this requirement.
  • Exceptions to this requirement may be made for cases in which an applicant has more than two years of professional science writing experience but some or all of that experience is not in English.
  • Graduate students in the sciences who are interested in science journalism are eligible. However, please note that some training and/or experience in writing for the general public is a requirement for this fellowship.
  • International applicants are welcome. However, applications, including writing samples and letters of recommendation, must be in English. Materials translated into English from another language are acceptable.

 

Selection Criteria

Priority will be given to applicants who demonstrate:

  • A strong intention to work primarily as a professional science journalist
  • Some training and/or experience writing about science for the general public (it does not have to be extensive)
  • Some understanding of the science journalism profession, the challenges science journalists commonly face, and the ways in which you would like to grow as a science journalist
  • Familiarity with The Open Notebook and the types of topics we tend to cover
  • An ability to generate good story ideas suitable for The Open Notebook
  • Strong writing ability
    • If English is not your first language, we do take this into consideration and do not expect flawless writing. However, for a successful experience in this fellowship you must have a fairly high level of proficiency in English.

 

Required Application Materials

The application form for this fellowship includes the following:

  • Responses to the following questions:
    1. What prior training and/or experiences have you had in writing stories about science for the general public? (Maximum 150 words)
    2. What skills, interests, or particular perspectives would you bring to this fellowship? (Maximum 150 words)
    3. What do you hope to learn from the fellowship experience? (Maximum 150 words)
    4. What are your overall plans for during the fellowship period (for example, will you simultaneously be finishing a dissertation? Freelancing? Seeking full-time employee somewhere? Doing something else?) (Maximum 75 words)
    5. Optional: Is there any other information about your experience, interests, or background that you would like us to know? (Maximum 150 words)
  • Short 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. (Maximum 200 words each. These are not full-scale pitches.)
  • A resume or CV
  • One letter of reference. This can be from a professor, editor, mentor, supervisor, or other colleague—whoever you think can best speak to your skills and qualities as they relate to science journalism and to this fellowship experience.
  • Up to two writing or multimedia samples of work aimed at the general public (not scientific/academic writing). If you are sharing audio or multimedia clips, you can simply put the URLs for the work into a PDF to upload in this section. (Samples must be in English. Translated materials are acceptable.)
  • Optional: Additional information 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, we invite you to let us know by responding to the demographic questions in this section of our application. This is entirely optional, and any information you disclose will be kept confidential.

 

How to Apply

Applications for the 2022 fellowship period have closed. We typically open applications for our fellowship in mid-September each year, with an application deadline in late October and selections announced in December.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions, please email TON editor-in-chief Siri Carpenter: siricarpenter@theopennotebook.com.

 

Past and Current Early-Career Fellows

FellowYearMentor(s)Twitter handle
Tina Casagrand2014Kendall Powell@Gasconader
Tiên Nguyễn2014Alexandra Witze@mustlovescience
Geoffrey Giller2015April Reese@geoffreygiller
Julia Rosen2015Cameron Walker@1juliarosen
Jane C. Hu2016Stephen Ornes@jane_c_hu
Christina Selby2016Jill Adams@ChristinaSelby
Rodrigo Pérez Ortega2017Helen Fields and April Reese@rpocisv
Rachel Zamzow2017Laura Beil@RachelZamzow
Olga Kreimer2018Hillary Rosner@ok_butactually
Aneri Pattani2018Azeen Ghorayshi@aneripattani
Jennifer Lu2019Maya L. Kapoor@jenpenned
Knvul Sheikh2019Roxanne Khamsi@KnvulS
Shira Feder2020Cynthia Graber@shirafeder
Katherine J. Wu2020Torie Bosch@KatherineJWu
Pedro Márquez-Zacarías2021Sarah Zhang@PedroM_Z
María Paula Rubiano A.2021Brooke Jarvis@Pau_Erre
Abdullahi Tsanni2021Chrissie Giles@abdultsanni
Carolyn Wilke2021Roberta Kwok@CarolynMWilke
Celia Ford2022Sabrina Imbler@cogcelia
Shi En Kim2022Sarah Gilman@goes_by_kim
Pratik Pawar2022Nidhi Subbaraman and Stephanie M. Lee@pratikmpawar

Stories by Our Fellows

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