1. Our preferred gender pronoun for generic references is the female: “she”, “her”, etc.
2. Keep sentences short. Make sure each sentence can be read in a single breath or less. If you prefer a quantitative limit: the average sentence length should be 20 words/sentence or less (you can use this tool to check).
3. Cite all sources. This includes statements made available in the public domain. For journal articles, provide the link to the paper on the publisher’s website. If there’s a legally unpaywalled version available, go for that.
4. Insert all sources as URLs inline, next to the words you would like linked.
5. Avoid citing papers published in predatory journals.
6. Get and use info from the horse’s mouth. Always quote a primary or firsthand source over a secondary or secondhand one. If a primary or firsthand source isn’t available, make sure there is more than one secondary or secondhand source and that they are all reliable.
7. To the extent possible, quote scientists working outside the West as independent experts, unless you have specific reason to quote a particular scientist. Further yet, speak to women scientists. But avoid speaking to the same set of people over and over again.
8. Stuff said via a public Twitter account is in the public domain. Stuff said on Facebook is in the public domain if the author has set the visibility of the post to ‘public’.
9. Take the reader along. If you’re going to say “the elephant was big”, don’t just say that. Also include details of the bigness (i.e. size) so the reader is able to appreciate it with you. Generally, make sure all adjectives are accompanied by information about colour, number, size, etc.
10. Write in the active voice to the extent possible.
11. Always use the right images. We suggest those images licensed Creative Commons Attribution or Zero. Flickr has a large library of the former and Pixabay, of the latter. Make a note of the username of the user who uploaded it and the specific license version.
11. If you plagiarise, you will be warned the first time and banned the second. If you plagiarise from your own pieces, you will be given more than one warning but we will avoid working with you.
12. For anything related to The Wire Science, write to Vasudevan Mukunth at mukunth at thewire.in.
13. We don’t pay per word. We pay per piece, with each piece valued according to usefulness, length, amount of work required to produce it, newsiness and, of course, the quality of writing. We also reimburse reasonable travel expenses for pieces we commission, where necessary.