We are pleased to announce that the inaugural 2016 Excellence in Data Journalism Award winner is THE GLOBE AND MAIL'S ELECTION FORECAST, a web page created by journalist Matt Frehner in collaboration with political scientist Paul Fairie. Designed and developed by Jeremy Agius and Julia Wolfe, produced by Chris Hannay. This web site aggregated all of the election polls in the lead-up to the October 2015 Canadian federal election, applied a "uniform swing" model to make election predictions, and ran a thousand Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the probabilities of various electoral outcomes. It also allowed the reader to run their own Monte Carlo simulations to view their own potential election outcomes. It provided colorful graphical illustrations of the riding-by-riding results of each simulation outcome. An accompanying article described the methodology in greater detail.
The award committee was impressed with the forecaster's use of sensitivity testing, including providing probabilities of various outcomes as opposed to simply the most likely outcome. We also liked the ability for readers to run repeated iterations of the simulations, and see different results each time. The accompanying methodological article was a bit terse at the beginning, but it did make a good effort to explain to general readers how the numbers were analyzed and presented. And, the topic (federal election predictions) was extremely important and widely discussed during much of 2015, so the web page had significant impact on improving the Canadian public's understanding of the data analysis aspects. (Indeed, it was apparently the second-most highly viewed Globe and Mail web page for all of 2015.) For more information, visit The Globe Election Forecast at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/globe-election-forecast-2015/article25377958/and see the background methodology at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/how-our-election-forecasting-model-works/article25371747/
The Statistical Society of Canada is an organization whose mission includes the development of a public awareness of the value of statistical thinking and the importance of statistics and statisticians in Canadian society. Science writers play a central role in educating Canadians about statistical results and concepts. To recognize and encourage excellence in data journalism and its positive impact on Canadian society, the SSC is proud to sponsor the Excellence in Data Journalism Award.
The CSWA has been delighted to partner with the SSC in creating and judging this award. That collaboration flowed from our belief that great data journalism is a goal all science communicators and all non-science communicators should have in a world in which understanding and depicting statistics has become the intrinsic structural underpinning of much of modern reportage.
Vote for your fave science website and help pick the winner of the very first CSWA People’s Choice Award!
Check out the websites below and pick your favourite. Next, vote for it at the link below the nominees. The winning site gets bragging rights and a one-of-a-kind T-shirt inspired by internet clickbait. You know you want to vote, so do it now!
Voting closes June 4, 2016 at noon ET.
Fun science video animations by Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, based in Guelph, ON. Their Youtube channel has more than 5 million subscribers.
The website is the gateway to a smorgasbord of science, including an annual festival that is the science version of Burning Man, in Calgary, AB. From the minds of Mary Anne Moser and Jay Ingram.
David Suzuki Foundation:
Environmental issues a la Suzuki
Did You Know?
Questions and answers, as well as some debunking of bad science, by chemist Dr. Joe Schwarcz in Montreal, QC.
Science journalism focused on the world’s coastlines, where almost half of the global poulation lives, based in Victoria, BC, edited by Jude Isabella.
Hornby Bald Eagles Webcam:
A live stream eagle cam on Hornby Island, BC
Nature Conservancy Canada:
Site of Canada’s leading national land conservation organization.
Northern Lights Webcam:
Located in Churchill, MB
Polar Bear Webcam:
Located at Waspusk National Park, Churchill, MB
Quirks & Quarks:
The online home of the long-running science radio show.
Take a stroll with skeptical biochemist Larry Moran on his blog.
A group of science bloggers joined forces with the aim of growing science communication while raising awareness of and support for Canadian science.
A group of writers aiming to help parents, teachers, and librarians discover the wide world of science writing for kids.
Website of astronomy magazine SkyNews, edited by Terence Dickinson. Based in Yarker, ON.
A hub for Canadian women in science, technology, engineering and math.
Vote for the CSWA People’s Choice for fave Canadian science website here:
By Ashley E.M. Miller
Online films. We watch them, “like” them, “share” them, “comment”, and “replay”. While many videos tend towards entertainment, the short informational film genre is growing strong. “When you can use a mix of words and images, or voice-over and images it’s so easy to get information across, says Shelley Sandiford, founder of ‘Sciconic’ [http://sciconic.com/], an animation company based out of Ottawa, ON. “What’s on the screen can be different than what I’m actually saying and in a lot of cases that can lead to a clearer understanding,”
For those of us who write with readers in mind rather than video viewers, our work can get lengthy. 500 words, 1500 words, even 3000 words are standard length for print communications. However, transcribing that prose into a script would create a “hugely long video,” says Shelley. So, how do we condense science information into a manageable script? You can find out how at Shelley’s professional development session, “Writing Short Scripts for the Web.”
One of Shelley's recent storyboards for an upcoming video
A full-time animator since 2014, Shelley collaborates with clients, transforming their content into engaging videos with brief, captivating voice-over. In the professional development session, participants will learn Shelley’s framework; the rules she follows when writing scripts for short videos. Distillation is key. Script-writing for the web is about giving your viewer a taste of the topic to tempt them to research on their own. In two minutes, you can’t do much more than that.
Shelley will use the resulting animation as a framework for script do's and don'ts
The session will provide practical experience putting Shelley’s rules to the test. Starting from a piece of long-form science writing, participants will condense the information into a one to two-minute script (about 150 - 300 words). Alternatively, participants can bring a 1500-3000 word piece of their own writing or an article that they've read and enjoyed. Participants with lab backgrounds are welcome to write about their past or present labwork. You will also cover some basics of filming with Jocie Bentley, a Toronto filmmaker. Combined with the opportunity view and critique a sampling of online video, participants will walk away with a solid foundation of the do’s and don’t’s of short-film.
“Writing Short Scripts for the Web” is part of the afternoon concurrent session on Saturday, June 4th at the CSWA conference. The session will run from 2:00 – 4:30 and is limited to 10 participants.
Dr. Ashley E. M. Miller (aka Dr. Ash) is a writer, an educator, and an eternally curious creature. Her interests are wide-ranging. She's fascinated by the sciences, passionate about the arts, and intrigued by where the two intersect. You can find her tweets at @Dctr_Ash, and she blogs at CrossedBranches.
by Ashley E.M. Miller
When we sit hunched over a keyboard or scribbling drafts in a notebook, we adhere to the adage, “write for your audience”. Usually, this audience is already interested in the topic. It’s why they pick up our articles, or click our links, or read our posters. Having people we know we can reliably reach is wildly validating, but sometimes we need to spread our message further afield. We want to cover new ground and engage people who may not be invested in our topic yet.
These people, according to Kathryn Fedy and Jodi Szimanski of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), are your ‘un-audience’. “You want them to be your audience, but you haven’t been able to make that connection yet,” says Kathryn. In Jodi and Kathryn’s professional development session ‘Reaching your un-audience: How to share your complex story with new markets’, you will learn tools to spread science outside of your typical audience group.
The Quantum Cats Video Game App is just one of the ways that IQC is attracting un-audiences through media-based 'access points.
Kathryn and Jodi are part of the Communications and Strategic Initiatives team from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. They share IQC research successes to diverse audiences through various print and online media. The team also supports community outreach initiatives to spread IQC’s message with the broader community.
In ‘Reaching your un-audience’, Kathryn and Jodi will draw upon their experience and teach you how to break down complex science into engaging messages by using “access points” and appropriate “frames of reference”. “Access points” are common connections we can use as gateways to new information. An access point can be broad as a media type, like video games or classical music. Or it can be as specific as asking “Do you know who Steven Hawking is?” Your un-audience knows more than they think and tapping into that knowledge is key to piquing their interest.
Quantum Symphony: Music at the Frontier of Science, is a multimedia mash-up of art and science that explores how music works at nature's most fundamental level
While access points can get new audiences hooked, the appropriate “frame of reference” can reel them in and hold their attention. What is an appropriate frame of reference? It’s the take on a topic that addresses what your un-audience cares about. Whether it be economic viability, human health impact, or future technology, the frame of reference is the context that makes the science interesting to them.
By combining “access points” and “frames of reference,” you can craft the right targeted approach to reach your un-audience. The session will also cover strategic communication planning, implementation, execution, and evaluation. With such a range of tools to teach, this panel will benefit “anyone who is trying to find a way to break through the clutter and share their scientific concept or scientific message with a broader audience,” says Kathryn.
‘Reaching your un-audience: How to share your complex story with new markets” is part of the concurrent professional development sessions on Saturday, June 4th of the CSWA conference. It will run from 11:45 – 12:30 pm. In the meantime, you can find Jodi [https://twitter.com/jodisz] and Kathryn [https://twitter.com/kathrynfedy] on Twitter.
Tim Lougheed, President
I have been a CSWA member for more than 25 years, having been introduced to the organization by one of its founders, the immortal Mack Laing. During most of that tme I have been a freelance writer, watching both this profession and CSWA evolve significantly with technology, which has also transformed the economic model for everyone involved in science communications. CSWA continues to find itself in a unique, privilaged position of being able to help individuals in this field confront these dramatic changes. As a longstanding member who ascended all the way to the presidency of the CSWA, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, but what continues to impress me is the stead progress that has been acheived in recent years. So impressed, in fact, that I find myself eager to return to the front lines, to ensure that such progress continues.
Pippa Wysong, Vice President, Journalist
Pippa Wysong is a freelance science writer. She wrote the Ask Pippa Q&A science column for kids for the Toronto Star for 20 years, and contributes news stories and features to a variety of newspapers and magazines, as well as medical trades. She was on staff of The Medical Post for 10 years, and was the Canadian correspondent for EuroTimes – a European ophthalmology newspaper. She joined the CSWA when she first broke into science writing a really long time ago, and has been on and off the Board of Directors doing various things during those years.
For the CSWA, she has organized local events for members in Toronto, spoke on panels, and periodically helped organize parts of some of CSWA's national conferences. She feels her experience can help with future activities of the association. She also served on Council for nine years with the Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science.
Jennifer Gagne, Treasurer
Jennifer Gagne is a science communicator who loves creating events for people to discover the wonder of the planet through science. Her favourite tasks involve pulling together programs on shoe-string budgets with a bunch of eager volunteers to create moments of wonder and discovery. She is currently trying out her hand at marketing, and looking for the next big science communications project to take on.
Past science communications adventures include being the Interim Executive Director for the CSWA where she was the lead organizer for the 2015 conference in Saskatoon and being part of TRIUMF's Artists in Residence program.
She loves the way scince communication sparks curioustiy and appreciation for our planet, and opens one's mind to ponder our weird, and as of yet, unexplained existence.
Kate Allen, Director, Journalist
Kate Allen has written about science and technology for the Toronto Star's foreign desk since 2012. Her stories about autism research were part of a team nomination for the Michener Award, the governor-general's prize for public service journalism, and the National Newspaper Awards. Her beat has taken her to the fossil-filled badlands of Alberta, a Japanese jellyfish research cruise, the articficial intelligence labs at Google, the inside of a a dead blue whale, and the telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Before coming to the science beat, she covered news and fearures for the Star's city desk. She has also worked or freelanced for the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Reader's Digest, and the Vancouver Sun, among others. She has a Masters of Journalism from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of King's College.
Kasia Majewski, Director, Communications
Kasia Majewski is an experienced public relations professional with a passion for strategic creative solutions that get clients results. She has worked in all areas of public affairs including, strategic communications, media relations, government affairs, writing, marketing and events planning.
As the only social science and arts grad in a family of scientists and mathematicians, Kasia ‘fell into science’ in her first job as a policy analyst in IT and telecommunications and has not left since. She has since developed a wealth of expertise in translating complex ideas into compelling stories, working with the biotechnology industry (including as editor of BIOTECanada Insightsmagazine), in the wireless and telecommunications industries, at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and currently at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association is pleased to announce the winners in the annual Science in Society Journalism Awards competition for 2015.
2015 Herb Lampert Science in Society Emerging Journalist Award:
Memory in the Flesh: A radical 1950s scientist suggested memories could survive outside the brain – and he may have been right by Arielle Duhaime-Ross, The Verge, 18 March 2015.
Honourable Mention: What We Can Learn from the World’s Longest Hibernator by Yutaka Dirks, Van Winkle's, 6 October 2015.
2015 Science in Society Journalism Award:
Getting Smarter by Dan Falk, University of Toronto Magazine, Summer 2015.
Honourable Mention: Behind a vegetative patient's shocking recovery, by Kate Lunau, Maclean’s, 31 December 2015.
2015 Science in Society Communications Award:
Slice of PI by Colin Hunter, Tenille Bonoguore, Liz Goheen, and Maxwell Lantz, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, 2015.
2015 Science in Society Children/ Middle Grades Book Award:
The Queen’s Shadow: A Story About How Animals See by Cybèle Young, Kids Can Press.
2015 Science in Society General Book Award:
Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? by Timothy Caulfield, Penguin Random House Canada.
The Herb Lampert Science in Society Emerging Journalist Award includes a $500 cash prize, and the remaining awards each include a $1000 cash prize. Winners will each be presented with a plaque and their cash prize at an awards dinner held on Saturday evening, 4 June 2016, in conjunction with the CSWA’s 45th annual conference, The Science of Life, at the University of Guelph 2-5 June 2016 in Guelph, Ontario.
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association is pleased to announce the winners in the 2015 Science in Society Book Awards competition in conjunction with Canada Book Day celebrations on 23 April 2016.
2015 Science in Society Children/ Middle Grades Book Award winner:
Cybèle Young is an internationally renowned Canadian artist, represented by galleries in New York, London, Vancouver and Calgary, and her work resides in major collections around the globe. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design, and has received considerable notice in such publications as Art in America, Canadian Art magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Fiberarts, Maclean’s, Elle and Toronto Life. Her art practice and family life have inspired the creation of several children’s books, including The Queen’s Shadow: A Story About How Animals See.
2015 Science in Society General Book Award winner:
Timothy Caulfield lives and works out vigorously and often in Edmonton where he is a professor in the School of Public Health as well as research director of the Health Law and Policy Group at the University of Alberta. A member of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, he has been involved with numerous national and international policy and research ethics committees including Genome Canada’s Science Advisory Committee, and the Federal Panel on Research Ethics. Caulfield is a frequent speaker at academic and public gatherings, and a regular contributor to popular media. Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? makes a case for de-hyping pseudoscientific claims in a colourful and original way.
Cybèle Young and Timothy Caulfield will each be presented with an awards plaque and a $1000 cash prize at an awards dinner held on Saturday evening, 4 June 2016, in conjunction with the CSWA’s 45th annual conference, The Science of Life, held at the University of Guelph 2-5 June 2016 in Guelph, Ontario.
For further information, please contact the CSWA at 1-800-796-8595 or email@example.com.
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association is pleased to announce the Short Lists in the 2015 Science in Society Book Awards competition.
Short List for the 2015 Science in Society Children/ Middle Grades Book Award competition:
The Spider by Elise Gravel, Penguin Random House.
A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars by Maria Birmingham; illustrated by Josh Holinaty Owl Kids Books.
DNA Detective by Tanya Lloyd Kyi; illustrated by Lil Crump, Annick Press.
Power Up! A Visual Exploration of Energyby Shaker Paleja; illustrated by Glenda Tse, Annick Press.
Short List for the 2015 Science in Society General Book Award competition:
The Personalized Medicine Revolutionby Peter Cullis, Greystone Books Limited.
The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Norman Doidge, Penguin Random House Canada.
Malignant Metaphor, by Alanna Mitchell, ECW Press.
Genius at Play, by Siobhan Roberts, Penguin Random House Canada.
Superforcasting: The Art and Science of Predictionby Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Penguin Random House Canada.
The winner in each category will be announced on Canada Book Day, 23 April 2016. Winners will each be presented with a plaque and $1000 cash prize at an awards dinner held on Saturday evening, 4 June 2016, in conjunction with the CSWA ‘s 45th annual conference, The Science of Life, held at the University of Guelph from 2-5 June 2016 in Guelph, Ontario.
Are you looking forward to the day when the life on Mars could be us humans? Do you wonder how we're going to feed all the people back here on earth in the meantime? Curious about bacteria in the Poopy Lab where 'lab stools are not what you expect'? Want to know more? Learn more! We've got the data, we've got the drama, and we can dance. We have a preliminary program and it's already the bees knees. (Yes. We even have the bees knees.) We're going to really live it up this year. You're invited to join us and our conference partner the University of Guelph for the CSWA's 45th annual conference, The Science of Life June 2 to 5, 2016
By Stephen Strauss
Free access to peer-reviewed, high quality journal articles and comments often tops the list of things which journalists and other science communicators know they need to do their job well. While some may get this access from their workplaces, large numbers of people don't have that as an information port of entry. So board member Asher Mullard has put together for CSWA members a list of places they can go to get the sort of journal access they need - and get it for free. If you are a member, sign in at http://sciencewriters.ca/members and follow Asher's instructions.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is also offering to alert people when articles with Canadian authors or co-authors appear in the journal Science. To get these alerts see http://www.aaas.org/newsroom
Or I say this and then note the obvious: While this kind of heads up is good for science journalists, it may also alert public information officers about discoveries which their institution's scientists may not have thought to tell them about.
CSWA President Stephen Strauss has written about science over more than 30 years initially at the Globe and Mail and in the last few years as a freelancer for various publications including CBC.ca, The Medical Post, Nature Biotechnology, EnRoute, New Scientist, Nature as well as various government agencies. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including numbers of Science in Society Awards from CSWA and has been the recipient recently of two CIHR journalism bursaries. his personal motto is that of Austrian journalist Karl Kraus: “Say What Is.”
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