Opinion (500-800 words)
-The purpose of opinion stories is to present our reactions to research and big ideas–for example, you might suggest whether a discovery could have good implications for society or whether, conversely, it could lead to unethical behavior.
-We recommend writing about one specific discovery, policy, or trend rather than a whole cluster of related ideas. For example, if President Obama had just announced a new push for alternative energy research, make an argument about his proposal, not about all alternative energy research that has ever been done.
-Make an argument, and carry it throughout your article, like a thesis in a good academic paper.
-Be entertaining and chatty. Pretend you’re trying to make a cogent argument to a friend.
-Be original; try to introduce aspects of the issue people won’t have considered before.
Features (500-800 words)
-Features stories both explain and analyze research, drawing out a particular concept or implication of the work.
-If you are writing about research, go back and read at least parts of the original study–don’t just take Scientific American’s word for it! We recommend reading the introduction, abstract, and conclusion.
-If you’re interviewing someone, plan your interview. Come up with questions beforehand, do a little research on the person’s background, and ask Reece (features editor) or the Co-Editors in Chief for some extra helpful interviewing techniques.
-Choose a unique angle of your issue and become educated about it. Don’t try to learn everything there is to know; do try to learn a lot of what there is to know about your specific topic, and present it in an interesting way.
-Though features stories often include elements of the author’s opinion and voice, remember that the goal of a feature article is to inform, rather than to persuade readers.
-Consider discussing your topic with a tone of interest, rather than an argumentative tone. As in: “this issue is really cool. People should know about it!”
Primary Research (500-800 words)
-Number one rule: Focus on clarity and accessibility. Define more terms than you think you need to define. Imagine transporting yourself back to high school, and explaining your research to yourself as you were a couple of years ago, after you’d maybe taken AP Biology or Physics but before you’d ever worked in a lab.
-Focus on the implications of your research throughout your piece. Give readers a sense of why you are spending time playing with these particular cells or doing this particular math or reading these particular books. You want them to think about why this matters to them.
-Primary research pieces are at the core of Brevia’s mission. They’re good for you as a researcher and communicator and they’re good for us as a magazine committed to making great research accessible.