Our consortium community is changing. What does that mean for MassiveSci.com?
The site will continue to operate as the world's best resource for science-curious people
We’re making a lot of big changes at Massive – switching our scientist consortium to a membership model to provide more comprehensive training and opportunities for members, and bringing on some new editors to help hone your writing. But one major thing will remain the same: MassiveSci.com, the public-facing home for much of our members’ work, will remain a science publication with both high scientific and high editorial standards.
This change means that paying for the effective training and the supportive community in which to practice it will not guarantee that your work will be published on the site. But that’s actually a good thing. Here’s why:
In the past year, MassiveSci.com has become a science outlet recognized for its consistently high-quality stories, all written (and illustrated!) by active STEM researchers. Our traffic has grown 34-fold in the past six months, and more established outlets like Pacific Standard, Slate, Salon, and RealClearScience trust and value our content enough to cross post it regularly for their own audiences.
That is to say, MassiveSci.com acts as a shiny public face, telegraphing the training that we do to the world in a form scientists, media, and the public all understand. It’s also proof that if scientists learn how to communicate outside academic spaces, engagement with science’s findings, theories, oddities, and ideas will increase, helping create a more science-driven society. The amount of time readers spend with Massive pieces – and the amount of questions they ask about the science through the chat tool embedded on most article pages – far exceeds media standards for engaging audiences.
That leads me to my next point: MassiveSci.com is a public-facing media site, the work of a team with career backgrounds in editing and social engagement. That sets us apart from most other science communication sites, which are primarily read by other scientists. To get published on Massive, scientists not only have to learn storytelling basics, they have to collaborate with a media professional to hone their work and then package and promote it in a public-facing way. (We also accept publishable submissions from active STEM researchers outside the consortium, but the editing process for accepted pieces in those cases will be a much more traditional, rather than training-based, editorial back-and-forth.)
That means that part of the process is learning to navigate the natural tension that exists between most scientists’ desire to tightly control the precision and specificity of their output with a public-facing outlet’s responsibility to make that work accessible to people without graduate-level knowledge of STEM research. In fact, outside of Massive’s focus on applied learning, most media outlets consider story production the point at which a writer cedes control of the final version of their work so editors can ensure that it will get the widest possible audience. Our collaborative process is invaluable training for scientists who may be interested in future opportunities in the media landscape – our writers regularly receive scicomm opportunities from impressed MassiveSci.com readers.
To maintain this level of collaboration and quality, we plan to continue limiting the number of stories we publish daily – and to pay writers for their published work. (Any sponsored content will be labeled appropriately but will still have to meet the site’s editorial standards.) This will ensure that Massive remains a carefully curated science site, both a destination for science-curious lay readers and a prestigious achievement for those pieces published there.
That means that not everyone who joins us will see their piece published on our site. That’s OK – we know that not everyone in our community is coming us to publish articles, and we’ve designed our training to be valuable whether or not you get published. What won’t change is that our editorial team will continue to work closely with each and every member who is interested in our hands-on scicomm training.
That said, most consortium members with a drive to bolster their public storytelling chops will have the opportunity to see their work published on Massive. But first, we want to work with you to help you realize your storytelling potential. MassiveSci.com is a destination, but the cliche is right: the joy is in the journey. And we’ll be by your side at every step.