Helping young scientists to speak for themselves

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Sir

As you indicate in your Editorial 'Cheerleader or watchdog?' (Nature 459, 1033; 2009), the quality of science journalism could be improved by better communication between scientists and the media. We should encourage this valuable skill in scientists at the outset.

I help an international team of high-school students to manage an online journal, Young Scientists, which is entirely written by people aged 12–20. To our knowledge, Young Scientists (http://www.ysjournal.com) is the only peer-reviewed science journal for school-aged students. Articles range from reviews of current hot topics to scholarly pieces of original research.

Many youngsters are now involved in scientific research, and at an increasingly early age — as demonstrated by the proliferation of science fairs around the world. Sadly, communication of all this promising work suffers because, once these bright young scientists have exhibited and gone home, their work goes with them. They need more opportunities to publish and share their ideas — before science journalists who are not scientists try to do their communication for them.

Science journalism is making increasing use of online media, which includes social networking sites. Who better to embrace it than our young scientists? If we can engender in them a critical perspective on the way science is reported and encourage them to participate in the process themselves, then we can look forward to a generation of scientists proficient at weighing up evidence and articulate in communicating it.

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Astin, C. Helping young scientists to speak for themselves. Nature 460, 683 (2009) doi:10.1038/460683a

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