The Association of British Science Writers
) is the UK society for science writers, journalists and communicators. It was founded in 1947. The ABSW is a professional body that exists to help those who write about science and technology, and to improve the standard of science journalism in the UK.
There are three grades of membership (not including Life membership, an Honorary grade awarded at the discretion of the Committee).
: open to people whose principal source of earnings is science writing and/or broadcasting. Ordinary membership is not open to those chiefly occupied in public relations. Current annual subscription is £40.
: open to those whose work advances the public awareness of science and technology, but who do not qualify as ordinary members. Associate members do not have voting rights. Current annual subscription is £36.
: open to anyone in a full- or part-time educational course directed towards advancing the public understanding of science and technology. Student members have no voting rights. It is expected that they will progress to ordinary or associate membership if they embark on an appropriate career upon completion of their course. Current annual subscription is £5.
The association produces a newsletter for members, called The Science Reporter. This appears every two months.
The ABSW provides career advice to aspiring science writers, in the form of a helpful and recently updated booklet, "So you want to be a science writer".
The ABSW administers the annual ABSE Science Writing Awards. Sponsored by Syngenta
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until 2007, the ABSW Science Writers' Awards seek to set standards of excellence in science writing across seven categories; in addition, in conjunction with BBC Radio Science, an award has been introduced to identify the years Young Broadcaster. We are also pleased to announce a new award this year, with the inauguration of the Parliamentary Science Communicator of the Year Award.
The awards of £2,000 each are presented to the writers and broadcasters who have, in the opinion of an independent judging panel, produced the highest quality science journalism each year, and highlighted important issues accurately and with bravery and flair.
These awards have now been running for 40 years and are the world's oldest established awards for science writing.
The ABSW Bursaries aim to identify and train the science communicators of the future. Every year, seven bursaries have been available for full-time and two for part-time study. At present the scheme is under review by its sponsor, and currently it appears doubtful that it will accept another round of new applicants in 2007. The deadline for 2006 application has passed and funds have already been allocated.
When the scheme operates, the bursaries cover:
• Course fees and living expenses for post-graduate science communication courses.
• For part-time study, financial support covers fees with a margin to allow the recipients to take some unpaid leave to attend the networking seminars (NB: candidates for part-time courses will have to demonstrate that funding for the course is not available via their employers)
ABSW runs a number of bimonthly seminars for its members in London. These are usually attended by students of science communication, and are an opportunity to network with working journalists and writers, and to learn "tricks of the trade". Moves are afoot to set up a North West Regional Chapter in Manchester.
The ABSW is a member of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations (EUSJA) and the World Federation of Science Journalists, as well as the UK's Creators' Rights Alliance.