Writing an op-ed piece for a local or national newspaper is an excellent way to share your opinion, your research, and your experiences with a broader audience. The average American is unfamiliar with much of the work done in laboratories, universities, and research institutions – you can change that! In doing so, you may even be able to grab the ear of politicians.

  1. Remember to Keep it Simple. Most individuals outside of the scientific community are not well-versed in the jargon. Remember to keep your language in the everyday vernacular, while remaining true to the essence of what you want to discuss.
  2. Stick to around 750 words, though the op-ed can be shorter or longer, depending on the topic that you write about.
  3. Write with a clear focus, point of view, and argument. Make sure that you do not leave the reader thinking, “So what?”
  4. Make it interesting! If you want to be funny, be funny. If you have interesting graphics, include them. Readers only click on articles that they find interesting, so make yours as interesting as possible.

Remember, newspaper editors are there to do exactly what the name implies: edit. Don’t worry about writing the perfect op-ed. The op-ed editors will help you smooth over any rough edges.

The ASCB has other “Be an Advocate for Science” how-to papers to help you be an advocate for science.