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Members: It’s time to name your association!

15 Sep 2016 11:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This fall, the board of the Canadian Science Writers' Association will be asking members to vote on a proposed set of changes to its constitution. In the lead up to that vote we, the board, want to hear from all members about one of the most fundamental components of our organizational document: what we call ourselves.


The challenge before us is to capture our identities both as individual professionals and as an organization. We are proud of our 45-year history of promoting balanced and accurate science reporting in Canadian media, and encouraging a greater awareness of the importance of science coverage. We also want to respond, in an inclusive way, to an evolving media landscape that has seen our membership grow to encompass a diverse spectrum of roles within science communications.


Over the next few weeks we are asking you to first submit your suggestions and then select a name that you think best represents our organization and identifies our brand to the public.


Submitting is easy to do. If you are a member, you can add your suggestion right here as a comment to this post. Or you can include it in an email to name@sciencewriters.ca


This post will be updated regularly with suggestions added to the list until September 30. (Serious suggestions only, please!) Members will then be asked during the first week of October  to select their preferred option from the list of suggestions. The name that emerges from this process will be included with the proposed constitutional changes that members will be asked to consider in November.


Here are the suggestions so far.  Got a better idea?  Let us know!


1) Retain current name (Canadian Science Writers’ Association)

2) Canadian Science Communicators

3) Canadian Science Writers and Communicators Association

4) Science Writers and Communicators of Canada

5) Science in Society Canada

6) Science Journalists and Communicators of Canada

7) Canadian Association of Science Communicators

Voting will be the first week of October. 

We hope all members participate in this collective exercise to ensure our organization's name is meaningful and relevant to us all.  


  • 15 Sep 2016 1:03 PM | Anonymous member
    Science Writers and Communicators of Canada
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    • 15 Sep 2016 1:11 PM | Brian Owens
      I second Scott's idea.
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    • 15 Sep 2016 5:06 PM | Anonymous member
      If you're including communicators in the title, why not throw a bone to the journalists and change 'writers' to 'journalists' or 'reporters' so you cover all bases? So, Science Journalists and Communicators of Canada (or Canadian Association of Science Journalists and Communicators)
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  • 19 Sep 2016 10:39 PM | Dan Falk
    I've tried, but I can't seem to get as worked up over the name as some others have. To my mind, "writers" can be interpreted to cover pretty much everything else: Journalism (including broadcast), PIOs, the blogosphere, students... I'm not against the suggested alternatives; I just think it's unnecessary.
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    • 20 Sep 2016 11:30 AM | Anonymous member
      The issue is not just linguistics but identity. Yes, linguistically, "Communicators" is an encompassing term which includes "Writers" etc. but we give it special connotations.

      And "writers" doesn't include all forms of science communication. Does a science photographer see themselves in a professional association of "Science Writers"? What about a radio broadcaster? A TV host like Dan Riskin?

      But what are "Communicators"? If we do not accept the strict dictionary definition but look at the broader connotation, most "journalists" would not see themselves under the umbrella of "Science Communicators" even though it would seem to be an inclusive term.

      Therefore, in order to pay respect to where we've come from (Science Writers) and to attempt to be more inclusive of the broader world of science communication, I proposed that we marry the two terms - Science Writers and Communicators of Canada. It is somewhat more inclusive, and clearer that we're talking about "creators of science communication" in any form.

      It is my preference to put "Science" first in the title, because it's the most important part of the name, to my mind.
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      • 20 Sep 2016 12:20 PM | Anonymous member
        More inclusive yet, and less divisive might be Science Journalists and Communicators of Canada. Because communicators includes writers, but not journalists. And not all writers are journalists or vice versa.
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  • 20 Sep 2016 3:48 PM | Carolyn Brown
    Like most of the commenters to date, I was at the annual meeting and found the discussion interesting and respectful. I saw "communicators" as a way to include the many media that we now use beyond the written word. However, I discovered that many journalists see "communicators" as code for PR people, and wanted the association to continue as a journalists' meeting place. I have given this some thought. First, the association has both journalists and those writing for scientific organizations within it now, and it hasn't posed a problem. But it probably needs to be clearer in the name so that both see their home there. The issue of keeping the focus on public-interest communication that Ivan raised at the meeting is valid but, I must stress, hasn't posed a problem to date. A tagline or positioning statement would be one way to address this. Therefore, I suggest adding to the eventual name a tagline, as follows:
    Communicating science in the public interest
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  • 20 Sep 2016 6:18 PM | Michael Robin
    I like Mico's suggestion of Science Journalists and Communicators of Canada.

    As he points out, not all journalists see themselves as writers and I think it's important that they continue to find a home within our association. Writers that aren't journalists, for example authors, I hope will feel included in the "communications" tag. As a PIO at a university, I identify myself as a science writer, but I'm also quite comfortable putting myself in the "communicator" camp.

    I agree with Scott's view that we put "science" first, as it's what we do. I'm a bit more leery about the tagline; there's a "centre for science in the public interest" US lobby group. I agree with the sentiment expressed by Carolyn, but we'll need to carefully consider the wording (for the record, I like Carolyn's suggestion, but would like others to weigh in on it before we adopt it).

    That's it, my two pfennigs!
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  • 29 Sep 2016 4:37 PM | Anonymous member
    So, my basic proposal is to have the words 'journalists and communicators' in the title (rather than writers and communicators). Whether that's Canadian Association of Science Journalists and Communicators OR Science Journalists and Communicators of Canada doesn't matter as much, though the association one sounds better to me.
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    • 30 Sep 2016 2:07 PM | stephen strauss
      As others have suggested ultimately what the name is will have mucho less impact on our members than what the business model of science communication/journalism becomes. As an example, what is happening at this very moment is that one of the major universities in the country is involved with one of the major newspapers in what is known as a "native journalism" project. That is a journalist will be hired to write articles highlighting the works of researchers at the university. Each will be written as if it were a news story, and will be published under that narrative canopy but will actually be paid for by the university. I don't exactly know what name to affix to the result nor how to label the job of its creator, but do know some have argued that native journalism is one of the mechanisms presently decaying newspapers must use to survive.

      So maybe we should call our organization The Canadian Association of Science Journalism and Communications Survivors. :-)
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  • 30 Sep 2016 3:39 PM | Anonymous member
    I agree with Dan Falk. I’ll vote to maintain the name Canadian Science Writers’ Association but I won’t be at all bent out of shape if the vote changes it. I’ll still go to the conferences and get the same pleasure out of the annual confab.
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  • 13 Oct 2016 3:19 PM | Anonymous member
    Where is the actual voting taking place?
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