Scientific expression beyond the journal: calling all trainees

The Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS) is an ASCB committee for trainees by trainees. Our committee is dedicated to supporting graduate students and postdocs in their career development and elevating trainee voices in the scientific community and general public. To do this, we organize year-round online career development programs, offer grants for trainees wishing to become involved in scientific outreach, and contribute articles focused on trainees’ experiences and perspectives in science.

Who can write for COMPASS?

Any ASCB graduate student or postdoc member can write an article for COMPASS. If you enjoy writing and working with the committee, we hope you also consider joining COMPASS! If you are not a graduate student or postdoc, but would like to write for ASCB, we can certainly point you in the right direction.

What should I write about?

We know every trainee has something to say and encourage you to write about anything you care about. Aside from potentially sensitive topics (determined on a case-by-case basis), the goal of these articles is to highlight trainee perspectives on all aspects of science. This includes career development, academic culture, trends in science and science policy, and anything else that is related to being a scientist. Check out some of our previous articles to get a sense of what’s been published, but generally, nothing is off limits! No idea is too big or too small.

What is the submission process?

Interested in writing? We encourage you to submit a pitch to us via email at In this pitch, briefly describe what you would like to write about, the intended audience, and why you would like to write this article. This will help us determine if your article aligns with our mission and if we can assist you in refining your topic as you write your first draft. If we do not accept your pitch, we are happy to discuss other topics you are interested in writing about or suggest other outlets that are a better fit for your article.

Below is an example pitch for an article about the benefits and challenges of publishing negative data:

Publishing a story with negative data in a journal can be challenging due to the current stigma that a “good publication” means you have positive data. However, scientists produce more negative data than positive, and making this data accessible could save others time and money. Finding venues to publish negative data could help graduate students earn a first author publication sooner, improving graduation rates. As a student, I want to publish some of my negative findings to benefit myself and the field but worry about the lack of currently published negative studies. In my article, I would like to discuss the challenges of publishing negative results and provide students with resources for disseminating negative findings.

After we accept your pitch, we will ask you to write your blog article. We will send you the ASCB blogging template and style manual. Please review these guidelines as you are writing. The finished piece should be fewer than 2000 words and contain content that you would be comfortable sharing with a group of peers. This draft will be shared with the Outreach Committee members, who will provide suggestions and edits within a week. Using these suggestions, you will have another week to incorporate these edits and resubmit a final draft, which will then be reviewed for online publication by ASCB staff and scheduled to be posted on the ASCB website. ASCB staff may have additional questions and edits that you may need to address before your article can be posted on the site. Overall, this process takes about 2-3 weeks from submission to publication. We may contact you later if your article is chosen to be featured in the ASCB Newsletter. 

Why should I write?

COMPASS established this blog as an opportunity for trainee voices and experiences in science to be heard and shared. We hope this blog is a place for trainees to feel empowered in expressing themselves, as well as a place to find like-minded peers in the scientific community. We look forward to reading your submissions!

If you are interested, please send your pitches to

About the Author:

Sara Wong is the current co-Chair of the ASCB Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS). She is also a postdoctoral fellow in the Hughes lab at the University of Utah, studying mitochondrial-derived compartments.