6 Surprising Careers To Consider If You Love Writing by Sydnee Lyons for HerCampus.comI am a biomedical scientist and I train others in science and medicine. Yet, I can tell you that I spend most of my time writing. Writing scientific papers. Writing grant proposals. Writing emails to colleagues. Writing plans for courses and training programs.
I have concluded that if you want to advance in science, you must eventually love writing, or be willing to do it all the time. For that reason, I wrote a book (again, I must love writing by now :). The title: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide.
For her article, Sydnee Lyons interviewed me and other professionals about careers that many people may not associate with writing, but that actually require a lot of writing. Here are the six careers that she describes and why they are great for writers:
1. Content MarketingPeople who pursue a career in content marketing spend their time creating branded content like blogs, social media posts and even video series.
Marketing executive at Graduate Recruitment Bureau, Lizzi Hart, says that she had no idea what content marketing was as a journalism student but was intrigued by a job opening titled, “Write for The Guardian and more.” Her main role is now link building and search engine optimization (SEO), which is basically getting external pages to link to the product or service she’s promoting. “It’s not the typical news pieces I thought I would be writing as a journalist,” she says, yet her work has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider and even Cosmopolitan!
Like Hart, Sarah Linney, content manager for real-estate start-up Triplemint, studied and worked in journalism before landing her job as content manager for a real estate company based in New York. Previously, she says, “I would just churn out copy day in, day out, which didn't leave much room for autonomy and creativity." Now, she produces tons of interesting multimedia content about life in the city.
A career in content marketing will consistently challenge you to stay creative and innovative in your work because every project is different!
2. PsychologistThis might come as a shock but psychologists spend quite a bit of their time writing about mental health and wellness. In fact, you've probably come across a number of online articles about human behaviors, mental processes and helpful methods for coping with life in general that were written by psychologists. Dr. Jude Miller Burke, author of The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your Childhood Hardship into Career Success, has been a practicing psychologist for more than 25 years. She writes every day, sharing her expertise in her books, articles and speeches. "I am determined and passionate to communicate the path of resilience to overcome obstacles and move on to greater happiness in life," she says. Writing allows psychologists to reach and help more people.
3. Non-Profit Grant WritingWhat could be better than using your writing skills to help others? Grant writing is an invaluable skill that requires you to be both persuasive and concise in your work. Grant writers work primarily for businesses, educational institutions and, of course, nonprofits that benefit from external financial aid. Your work can make life-saving research a reality or set into action grassroots campaigns for important policy changes.
Christina Disbrow works as the founder of and grant writer for All Write, All Write, All Write, a boutique firm that strives to provide administrative and fundraising support to small nonprofits. “I’ve always loved to write and help people. Nonprofit grant writing has allowed me to combine both of these passions into a career,” she says. Grant writers must be able to explain how their cause will benefit from the grant and why it deserves to be considered. This process requires vision, persuasiveness, creativity, motivation and attention to detail. It’s a lot like putting together a compelling narrative!
4. ScreenwritingWriting for film or television might seem like a long shot, but if you’ve always had a passion for creative writing, it might be worth looking into. Screenwriters have a knack for storytelling; they know how to turn action into words with ease and precision. As a screenwriter, you can write scripts for feature films, television shows, commercials and even video games. It’s not just about creating interesting and naturalistic dialogue; some scenes may have no dialogue at all. At its core, screenwriting is more about documenting a visual story in great, descriptive detail. Creating interesting characters, developing backstories that span years, writing tear-jerking monologues—that’s what screenwriting is about. This is no easy career path but it is certainly rewarding.
Daphne Mallory and her daughter Sabya Clarke work together as screenwriters. Mallory says she has always been committed to telling stories and has written for The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine and others in the past but her true joy comes from writing science-fiction film and TV scripts. Mallory says that she and Clarke, who studies filmmaking at the California College of the Arts, have written three television pilots, several short films and even an original feature film.
5. AcademiaYou might think that your professors have it easy only showing up to classes a few times a week but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Professors spend the majority of their time working on their research and trying to get their work published. In fact, to get tenure, professors are required to have a minimum number of scholarly books and articles already published.
Dr. Luz Claudio, author of How To Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide and tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health, says, “Most of [my] time is spent writing scientific papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals and writing grant proposals to support [my] projects.” In fact, she recently tracked her work activities and found that almost 70 percent of her time is spent writing.
Another common misconception is that writing for academia is boring or restrictive, but it’s actually far more liberating than you might think. You can pursue a career in academia in almost any specialization: philosophy, Italian literature, neuroscience, media studies and so much more.
6. Public RelationsPublic relations is a lot like advertising. You’re tasked with selling a favorable image of your client or brand and much of your work revolves around getting them featured by the appropriate media outlets. That’s why public relations specialists must be excellent writers. Suki Mulberg Altamirano, founder and CEO of Lexington Public Relations, says, “Good writing is essential to successful media relations. You’re constantly leveraging this skill from writing pitches to creating client dialogue.”
PR specialists working at an agency often write and pitch multiple press releases in one day! And because they work closely with the press, they run on tight deadlines. When a news outlet requests a client biography or a descriptive write-up about a product you’ve pitched them, you’ll need to get back to them as soon as possible before they move on to the next thing to meet their own deadlines. If you can be persuasive in your writing and quick on your feet, this is the job for you.
Here are 8 reasons to write and publish your research. Can you think of two more?
On last week’s blog post, we talked about practical steps to selecting the right journal for your research papers. If you missed it, you can read it here: 7 Tips for Choosing a Journal to Publish your Scientific Paper.
This week, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of Open Access (OA) versus Traditional Publishing journals. First, the definitions: Traditionally-published journals are mostly funded through subscriptions or advertising. In the OA publication model, scholarly journals make their content freely available online to all readers without needing a subscription, pay-per-download or other fees. The cost of publication is still paid by someone, either the journal is OA because it is subsidized (by a government entity, professional society, or the like), or the publication costs are paid by you, the author of the research paper.
But the OA system has spawned a darker side, the world of “predatory journals”. For more on ways to tell whether you are dealing with a “predatory” journals, read this 10 Signs you are Dealing with a Predatory Journal.
On last week’s blogpost, we focused on tips for identifying “predatory journals”. Those are journals that exploit scientists' need to publish their research by charging publication fees to authors without providing legitimate peer-review or editorial services. If you have not read that blogpost, check it out here.
Now you know which journals to avoid. Let's talk now about how to choose the right journal for your paper.
Given the vast number of scientific journals out there, (as of today, there are 5,635 indexed in Medline, the publisher of PubMed) choosing the right journal for your paper may seem like a daunting task, but it’s one of the key factors that will determine whether your paper gets published or not. Here are 7 things to consider when making your selection.
A checklist for spotting predatory journals
Every morning I wake up to an inbox full of messages. Along with the blogs that I subscribe to, the special offers, and the occasional actual personal message from a colleague overseas, there are those like these (this is an actual message from this morning, I just took out the name of the journal):
"Special Greetings! We would like to request you to submit a 2-5 pages short communication/ Research / Review/ Case Report to the upcoming issue.
Journal of _____is a peer reviewed open access journal, aims to publish high quality basic and clinical research in all the disciplines of Nutrition Science.
Kindly submit your valuable contribution on or before 30 March, 2017. If you are interested, kindly respond to this invitation within 48 hours.
Sincerely, Editor in Chief"
It used to be so easy to spot the fake, predatory journals that advertise in these emails. They used to be full of bad spellings, weird grammar, flowery language and were sent from odd places or were on topics unrelated to my area of work.
Things have changed.
Even with the long time it takes to publish a research paper, you can still keep a consistent flow of publications.
---Last week, I posted a blog about the long time it takes for scientific papers to get published. (Thanks to all who submitted emails on their "paper waits". Samuel C. from Atlanta submitted the longest time between submission and publication, 22 months. He will receive the free book).--
This week, we talk about how to consistently publish scientific papers, in spite of this paper wait. This is important because employers, promotion committees and anyone who might evaluate your productivity will look carefully at your bibliography. Long gaps between publications could be viewed as lapses in productivity.
I was recently interviewed by John R. Platt for an article published in the website of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE-USA on the importance of presenting posters at professional conferences. (You can view the article here).
In the article, I said that “Poster sessions are a great way to get feedback on your work and for you to see what other people in your field are doing.” The three main points of the article were:
Time between submission and publication seems to be getting longer, doesn't it?
We just got a new paper accepted for publication. Yay!
As I was reviewing the pre-print, I noticed something peculiar. It said:
Date of submission February 2014!
It was now January! 2017!
Is it me...? Or do you think that scientific papers are taking longer to get published?
Looking into this, I found an article in Nature, an analysis of the length of time between submission and acceptance of papers in journals that listed those dates in Pubmed. The article apparently showed that the median "paper wait" time has stayed the same for over 30 years, about 100 days. But this wait time was not the same across all journals. According to the article, journals with the lowest and highest impact factors had the longest wait times. (What the..?!). Does that make sense to you? Let's look at this more closely.
There are journals that do not publish the submission dates on Pubmed, so those would not have been included in the article's analysis. Worse, some journals use the resubmission date rather than the first submission date as their benchmark, potentially skewing the data. The resubmission date can be many months after the date of first submission.
Your years as an undergraduate, graduate student, postdoctoral fellow or even as a junior faculty have not prepared you for this. You need to get your own funding! You can feel the mounting pressure and it is very real.
How do you start even thinking of applying and getting your own grants when you've never done it? Sure, you have written and published some good research papers in peer-reviewed journals, but writing a grant proposal is a whole new different ball game. As I have said before, writing papers is about saying what you have done. Writing grant proposals is about convincingly telling someone what you will do if they give you thousands of dollars to do it.
So how do you write a grant proposal?
Well, it is the same as for so many other journeys in life, starting is the most difficult part. But once you start and have a plan, you will have conquered the toughest hurdle.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.