Guide to being interviewed

What scientists need to know about being interviewed: Preliminary results from SAS USA survey

This project started out with an email from a journalist. She was frustrated with the number of times she had dealt with scientists who either asked to see drafts of stories before publication or who tried to place conditions on interviews that had already taken place. She wanted to know if there was a blog or a how-to list for scientists that explained journalistic conventions and what to expect when asked to be interviewed.

One of my main focuses at Sense About Science USA involves providing resources and media workshops geared towards graduate students, post-docs, and early career scientists to help them better bridge the communication gaps between science and the general public. So this question seemed an obvious one to be asked. And yet, my response was disappointing: I don’t know of any such resource. But what a great idea! And while we’re talking about this, why just a blog? Why not figure out what are the most common concerns and questions scientists have and see what are the journalistic conventions.

In the summer of 2015 I worked with our Voices of Young Scientists network to see what are the main questions and concerns they have regarding being interviewed. With their arsenal of questions and guidance from several very helpful science journalists (especially Wade Roush), we were able to put together a short survey to better understand how science journalists work, what the conventions in their field are, and what concerns they have. Finally, in Sept 2015, over a two-week period, we invited science journalists in the US to participate in our survey.

In total 218 science journalists took our survey. These are preliminary results. In the coming month, we will be updating our website with the complete survey results, including posts and comments from journalists to help explain some of the results. Though we hope this will be a useful resource for many people, our main goal is to create a resource for early career scientists (and maybe even some late career ones!); as such, some of our focus and explanations will be geared towards this group.

Anyone who would like to see the raw data (which excludes all names and/or email addresses given to us by respondents), can email me for access:


— Neda Afsarmanesh

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