Write-a-thon Guidelines

The Write-A-Thon is an opportunity for you to hone your science communication skills by writing a piece on any science topic of your choice. It can be about your research, or not! With the help of your peers and an expert reviewer, you’ll receive edits to help ready your piece for publication. So...get writing!


General guidelines

 
  • Your piece should be roughly 600-800 words. You may also submit a script for a podcast episode or a video. 

  • You should submit either a pitch or a roughly 100 word summary of your article to help guide your expert reviewers. Also include a brief line at the top indicating who your target audience is (e.g. “I want to publish this to ________ publication, whose audience is ______” or “I would like to be understandable to a middle school science class”). 

  • You’ll be in a group with several other participants, and you will be responsible for providing feedback to each other.

  • You will need to revise your draft once your teammates have sent you feedback. 

  • You’ll share your drafts and feedback via Google Drive.

  • All times are in your local timezone. 

  • If you have any questions, please contact: losangeles@comscicon.org

 

You might like to look over George Orwell’s six rules for writing clearly, as in his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. 

  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

 

March 26th 11:59PM: First draft due

 

  • Please submit to your assigned Google Drive folder. If you do not receive a folder link by March 19th, please email us at losangeles@comscicon.org

  • You should include your pitch or 100 word summary with your submission, in the same document. We recommend using Google docs, but you may upload a Microsoft Word document if necessary.

  • You can find guidelines on how to write a pitch here

  • If you don’t feel ready to write a pitch, you can write a summary to help guide your reviewers. This should include some information about your background, the kind of audience you’re looking to reach, possible publication venues, and areas you’d particularly like feedback on. 

  • File naming convention: LastName_FirstName_D1

 

April 7th 11:59PM: Edits due

 
  • You should MAKE A COPY of your peers’ drafts and finish making suggestions and providing feedback to your group members by this date. 

  • We recommend working in Google Docs again, though you are welcome to work on a separate document in your personal Google Drive before moving it to the team folder. 

  • Read through the peer review guidelines.

  • File naming convention: LastName_FirstName_D1_YOURINITIALS (e.g. if the author is Marie Curie and your initials are OLS: Curie_Marie_D1_OLS )

 

April 15th 11:59PM: Revisions due

 

  • Take the time to collate and read through the feedback from your teammates and upload a second draft.

  • Where you choose not to incorporate suggestions, have a clear explanation in your head for why. Ensure that you are thinking critically about the feedback you are given.

  • File naming convention: LastName_FirstName_D2

 

April 23rd 10:00AM: Expert review session

 

The write-a-thon is an essential part of the ComSciCon experience, and completing it is a requirement of attending. If you do not submit a draft we may offer your place to someone on our waiting list.