In July last year, the Careers editors at Nature started regularly publishing columns in what eventually became known as the Careers Community on nature.com. These pieces are written by scientists, with editing help from the Nature team, and aim to share the author’s personal experience and what others might learn from it.
For example, an article by Jasper Elan Hunt outlines the struggles he faced when explaining a gap in his career history in the personal statement for his graduate-school application — and he provides advice for others enduring something similar. He writes, “by carefully considering the story you want to tell, writing several drafts and getting feedback from trusted mentors, the personal statement can be an opportunity to clear up any doubts about your qualifications for graduate school while simultaneously telling a story of personal success.”
The Careers Community has been a runaway success. The columns are one of the most-read article types on the Nature website, and are a way for working scientists to share their opinions and feelings about their lives in research. They’ve also been a place for scientists to be constructive by turning a personal failure or struggle into a valuable lesson for the wider community.
We now receive several pitches every day, and our small team of editors tries to get to them as quickly as possible. If you’re interested in writing for us, here’s how:
Be detailed in your experiences
When pitching to us, be generous with detail: we need it to properly assess your proposal. Include your own experience in engaging with an issue, and how what you learnt might apply to other working scientists.
Remember, we look for personal history allied with help and advice
We need to understand what advice you’d give other scientists, and why you’re the right person to share it. Please try to make both points clear.
Read what we’ve already published
The best way to get a sense of what we’re looking for in a final piece is to read what’s already made it through. Check out what we’ve published in the past.
Be mindful of our non-academic tone
The Careers Community is not a place to publish primary research findings, and we will not accept academic papers. Please use an informal tone and avoid jargon in your piece and pitch.
It doesn’t need to be perfect when it gets to us
It’s our job as editors to help you to improve your writing and to add value to your piece. Please don’t feel you have to make something perfect before you send it to us.
All rules are made to be broken
All of the above advice is designed to be most helpful for the majority of submissions. But there are always exceptions to the rule — and if you feel you have something that’s worth us looking at but that doesn’t fit the above criteria, feel free to get in touch.
Ask us if you’re not sure
We’re here to help you to put together a great piece, so if you’re unsure of anything, contact us with any questions by e-mail at email@example.com.
Use a Word file or a Google Doc when possible. Please do not send us PDF files, because we can’t edit them easily.
Send your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org with a clear subject line.
Our word count is normally around 800 words.
We do not have any formatting requirements or a specific style guide for authors.
References are not generally required for career columns.
We publish only English-language pieces.
If you have career wisdom to share, please send it along. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and helping you to publish a great story.