Here are some of the characteristics of a good science story, as identified by Communicating Science fellows of this semester (Spring 2017):
- It grabs the reader’s attention right at the beginning with a catchy headline, a good lead, entertaining content or a “cool” topic that captures the imagination, humor, or timeliness.
- It gets the science right; it is accurate, thorough, and factual, and the reasoning is clear.
- It cites sources or provides links to original studies so that interested readers can find out more.
- It avoids jargon and acronyms (or defines it) and can be understood by someone who is not in the field of study that is the topic of the story.
- It provides examples and relates the research to readers’ personal lives; it pulls at readers’ heartstrings’ it uses case studies to help readers identify with subjects.
- It uses analogies and metaphors to help readers make the leap from the known to the unknown.
- It tells a story using lots of quotes from the researcher(s) or using a dialog form.
- It is well written and easy to read; quantity of detail fits length of story; sentences and paragraphs are short. Historical perspective can be helpful.
- It includes callout boxes, diagrams, appealing photos, graphics, maps, figures, videos. Bulleted lists are useful.
- It tells why the work is important or relevant – what problem does it solve? How does it move us forward? What is the impact on human life? Re-stressing significance at the end is effective.
- It offers something positive, useful, and constructive beyond the study itself; inclusive language that empowers the reader, for example.
- It is concise. The writing is clear and easy to understand. For difficult concepts, it starts simple and builds to complex.