Submissions Guidelines

The Open Notebook is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides tools and resources to help science, environmental, and health journalists at all experience levels sharpen their skills. We do this through story-behind-the-story interviews, reported features on craft, annotations, profiles, an advice column, a database of successful news and feature pitches, and more. Learn more about TON here.

Our capacity for assigning stories is limited, but we welcome pitches for story-behind-the-story interviews and reported features. We also specifically welcome pitches for feature stories intended for our Diverse Voices in Science Journalism series, which highlights the experiences, perspectives, challenges, and expertise of science journalists from communities that are historically underrepresented in science writing. 

Please note: We publish stories about the craft of science journalism. We frequently receive pitches for stories about an area of scientific research or for interviews with scientists about their science. We do not publish these types of stories. Please familiarize yourself with our publication before pitching.


What to Include in Your Pitch

Send a brief (no more than 500 words) query letter describing your idea, what makes it right for The Open Notebook, and how you plan to approach the story.

Your pitch should describe:

  • Why you think this story is important and how it goes beyond what has already been done on the subject, at TON or elsewhere.
  • The proposed story’s angle and key elements that the piece is likely to include, as well as sources that you may interview.
    • Note that TON stories typically include a heavy focus on science journalism craft, so we expect writers to offer strategies and tools that people can take away and apply to their own work. 
    • If you’re pitching a story-behind-the-story Q&A interview, please provide some indication of why you think the story is noteworthy and what kinds of questions you’d like to raise with the writer. 
    • If your story lends itself to visual or multimedia treatments, describe what those are and whether you are able to provide them.
  • Your background/credentials (and include links to a few pieces of your published work)

Please include your pitch in the body of your email (not as an attachment) and email it to

If you don’t receive a reply to your query after 10 days, please contact us by email to make sure we received the pitch.

We pay promptly upon acceptance of the final draft.


What We Pay

We are committed to paying fair and competitive rates to all our contributors. We currently pay the following rates:

  • $1,000 for interviews (assigned at 1,500-2,000 words)
  • $1,350 for reported features (assigned at 1,500-2,000 words)

(Note: We are seldom able to negotiate on rates, but there are occasionally special circumstances when we can do so, such as when the writer and editor agree that the scope of a story has expanded beyond the original assignment. We will never revoke an offer of an assignment because a writer asked for a higher rate, or think less of a writer for asking. We encourage all freelance writers to advocate for themselves.)


Last updated December 27, 2021

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