Summer School


On February 22, 2018 over forty ABSW members heard from the people who know at an ABSW panel event, with:

Royal Society Book Prize Winner: Philip Ball

New York Times bestselling author and Royal Society Book Prize Shortlistee:  Jo Marchant

Editing and Publishing expert Robin Dennis, who has worked on four books longlisted for the Royal Society Prize, three shortlisted books, and one winner

Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist, and author of six books blending technology and history, including two New York Times bestsellers.

Jessica Woollard is a literary agent at David Higham Associates representing narrative non-fiction and international fiction. Her authors include Jo Baker, Rob Cowen, Stanley Donwood, Charles Foster, Paul Kingsnorth, Robert Macfarlane, Fred Pearce and Merlin Sheldrake.

The panel discussion was held at the venue for this year's UKCSJ, The Francis Crick Institute.

Read: Top tips on writing popular science books from literary agent Diane Banks

View the full Facebooklive video of the event:

Read all about it on Twitter:

Diane Banks

Next Thursday, February 22nd, the ABSW is running a panel entitled “How to write a successful science book”. Admission is limited to ABSW members and closes this Friday, February 16th. You can join here, and register for the event here.  In advance of our event, here is the advice of Diane Banks from Diane Banks Associates, literary agents for popular science writers including Brian Cox, Jeff Forshaw, Jon Butterworth, Melanie Windridge and Sheila Kanani.

Science books have become increasingly popular in the last ten years or so, crossing out of the science section at the back of the bookstore and over into the genre which has been labelled by Waterstones as “Smart Thinking”, a phrase which has been picked up across the trade.  The general reader is keen to understand all aspects of the world in which we live.  Nevertheless, however cutting edge their research, the number of academic science writers who successfully make the move into trade publishing remains small.  Cracking the magic formula of a groundbreaking science book which captures and holds the public imagination is tough.  Here are our top tips:

1. Public profile.  Before approaching an agent or trade publisher, you’ll need to have already demonstrated that you enjoy engaging with a popular audience.  The simplest way to do this is via social media and a personal website, where you can post blogs, videos and press cuttings.  A writer who is genuinely interested in engaging with a wider audience (as opposed to one who sees writing a trade book as a way to make money) will by definition have already built up a strong social media following and have put themselves out there on the popular lecture circuit.  If they haven’t done this, the publisher has all the information they need to make a decision.

The largest gathering of science journalists in the UK, the UK Conference of Science Journalists, is taking place this October and is expected to attract up to 450 delegates.

The full-day event will take place on Tuesday 16th October 2018, with sponsorship from Eurekalert!, an online, global news service operated by the American Association for the Advance of Science.


The venue for the UKCSJ2018 will be the striking new building that houses the Francis Crick Institute, the biggest biomedical research facility in Europe that brings together over 1500 scientists and support staff under one roof.

To be the first to know when registrations open and to grab an early bird rate, register your interest now

To find out more about the UKCSJ18 and read all the latest news visit the ABSW's dedicated UKCSJ website.

This course is now fully booked and will be held on Thursday 19 April 2018

After the success of the ABSW media law course the ABSW is planning an 'Introduction to Podcasting Course' run by ABSW members Sue Nelson and Richard Hollingham.

The course will give a basic grounding in how to produce simple but professional-sounding audio podcasts.

The course will be held in London for a full day (weekday) and will cost £80 - £100 (costs will be dependent on the number of individuals attending and the venue used - but the idea is to keep costs as low as possible for ABSW members).

If there is enough interest in the course for this to be cost effective the ABSW will carry out a poll on the most suitable date for all involved.

The course is for ABSW members but you may join the ABSW in order to attend.

If you would like to register your interest please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Further details of the course and course content:

Is your January diary a place of tumble weed and financial strife?

Fear not, every year the ABSW misses the deadline, and holds its Christmas Party in January.

Have a free drink and a some bar snacks on us and celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ABSW. (For those of you watching closely we have slightly missed the deadline here too as the ABSW was founded in 1947 but if they had a Christmas Party in 1947 and had it late, well, you get the picture!)

So the details are:

Thursday 11 January 18:30 til late

The Station Master's Office, The Parcel Yard, King's Cross Station

Panel discussion: A conversation on truth, science and journalism - Thursday 2 November 2017, London

Truth is in the spotlight -- there’s much debate about how to find it and whether it still carries weight in our society. Media covering UK and US politics have lamented how truth is being sacrificed to misinformation, myth, spin or outright lies. During the US pre-election period, publishers from the Guardian to the New York Times to NPR pushed their fact-checking services. The need to tackle fake news then captured the attention of major social media players like Facebook.

Journalism is reflecting hard on how to adapt to deal with what’s seen as the era of post-truth, and science commentators have lamented how evidence is being sacrificed to spin and fake news.

Would you be interested in low-cost data journalism training provided via the ABSW?

Data journalism trainer Jonathan Stoneman

Do you want to learn more about working with data as a journalist? Do you want to burnish the skills you already have and learn some more? Do you have the skills but want help on finding and then selling data stories?

Yes? Great! Please drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. because I want to hear from you.

The ABSW board wants to put on some more data journalism events, after the success of the data-orientated session at our summer school this year.

We have managed to get journalism trainer Jonathan Stoneman on board once more to run classes and help ABSW's members learn new skills or refresh their memories.

We're currently looking at arranging a day-long workshop - would that be something that interests you? The choice of curriculum is up to us so please also tell me what you would like to cover. Do you want to develop skills working with data in Excel and SQL? Would you like to learn about visualising datasets? Would you want to cover scraping and coding? Or would you like to talk about how to find datasets, develop stories from them, and sell them to editors?

Time is obviously getting on and the end is nigh for 2017. However there is still time for us to squeeze this session in before Christmas, if the demand is there. Or would you prefer to meet up in the new year?

Jack Serle, Vice-Chair ABSW Board


Organised by Queen’s University Centre for Experimental Medicine PDC, in association with Irish Science and Technology Journalism Association (ISTJA) and Association of British Science Writers (ABSW). Free entry to Queen’s University students and staff, and members of ISTJA and ABSW.

Location: Basement Seminar Room, The Wellcome Wolfson Institute of Experimental Medicine, Queen's University, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast. Please fill in this form to register for the event.


Date and time: 19 October 2017, 12:30-17:30 

Although science writing is in our name, the ABSW also represents tech and engineering journalists and writers. We’d like to address this portion of our membership more actively by tweaking some of our existing activities and/or creating new ones. This meeting is intended to identify what the differences are in the interests of the existing tech/engineering membership (and the many potential members out there), use them to form some specific proposals, and prioritise these for the main ABSW Board. 

This event is open to all not just ABSW members.

6-8pm, Tuesday 5 September, UCL Main Campus

If you’re interested in attending, please e-mail Dr Sunny Bains This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who will be chairing this meeting.

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