UK Conference of Science Journalists (UKCSJ)

A biennial Conference organised by the ABSW 

News Flash!

In 2016 the UKCSJ will become the European Conference of Science Journalists

In 2016 the European Science Open Forum will be held in the UK (Manchester).  The first ever European Conference of Science Journalists was held in Copenhagen 2014 when ESOF took place in Denmark.   As ESOF is in the UK in 2016 the ABSW is organising the 2016 European Conference of Science Journalists in conjunction with our European counterparts.   The format will be similar to that of previous UKCSJs and as the programme develops more information will be posted here.

Date: Saturday 23 July, Manchester Central, Manchester

The UKCSJ - a full day of discussion and debate with three key aims: 

To discuss and debate contemporary issues in science journalism
To encourage and provide skills for newcomers
To promote professional development
The first ever UKCSJ was held in 2010 and followed in the footsteps of the 2009 World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) held in London.  The WCSJ saw nearly 1000 delegates from all around the world meeting to discuss issues affecting the profession of science journalism. Demand for delegate places at the London Conference was high amongst UK science journalists and revealed a real desire for a forum in which professional issues could be discussed. To meet this demand the ABSW organised the UKCSJ - a WCSJ on a far smaller scale with the focus on the profession in the UK.   For 2012 the ABSW increased capacity due to demand and the Conference can now accomodate 300 delegates.  The UKCSJ runs on alternate years to fit with the alternate year programme of the World Conference of Science Journalists.
There are many ways in which organisations can work with the UKCSJ to support science journalism in the UK whilst engaging the attention of the UK's science media. Please refer to our support brochure for 2014.   Or contact Sallie Robins, Conference Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. regarding future UKCSJ's and other ABSW events.

The ABSW would like to thank our supporters for UKCSJ14 

Lead Conference Partner
Session Sponsor
Mosaic Science
Student Scholarships
Venue and facilities

Elsevier Lead Conference Partner for 2014

The ABSW is delighted to announce that Elsevier are supporting the UKCSJ for a third year as our Lead Conference Partner.   Speaking about the 2012 UKCSJ Harald Boersma, Director Corporate Relations, Elsevier said:

“You ran the event perfectly, once again, and it was just impressive to see how the event has grown even further, both in terms of the number of delegates and in terms of their level of engagement in the discussions.”

Also supporting in 2014, again for the third time, are the Royal Society and the British Psychological Society.   The Wellcome Trust has supported the Conference previously and it's latest initiative Mosaic is supporting in 2014.

If you would like to join these organisations to support science journalism in the UK whilst engaging the attention of the UK's science media please see the 2014 support brochure or contact Conference Director Sallie Robins This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UKCSJ 2014 - Date and Venue Announced

The date and venue for UKCSJ2014 have now been announced.  The conference will take place on Wednesday 18 June 2014 at The Royal Society, London.   Registrations will not open until Spring 2014 but you can register your interest now and recieve updates on the Conference and the registration process.

Queries can be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A word of introduction from Elsevier, Lead Conference Partner


Representing the lead sponsor of the UK Conference of Science Journalists I would like to briefly introduce myself and my company, Elsevier.

Elsevier’s the world’s leading publisher of science and health information, serving more than 30 million scientists, students and health and information professionals worldwide. We help our customers advance science and health by providing world-class information and innovative tools that help them make critical decisions, enhance productivity and improve science and health outcomes.

Through our journals, including The Lancet, Cell and the American Journal of Medicine and our online products, such as ScienceDirect, MD Consult, Scopus and Reaxys, Elsevier supports the scientific research community in the development of break-through scientific discoveries.

We have worked with many of you previously to communicate news about the research we publish and the innovative research solutions we have created. I’m sure many of you receive our newsletter, the Elsevier Monthly Research Selection, summarising some of the most newsworthy science and health research that we publish, and providing access to our scientific database ScienceDirect,

Monday’s conference is about all the issues affecting your profession as a science journalist. As Elsevier and science journalists share a common interest - accurately reporting scientific information - I’m interested to listen to your stories, your experiences and developments in your field. Ultimately this knowledge should help us identify ways to improve our communications with you.

I therefore look forward to meeting you at the conference.  In the meantime, if you have any questions for me or would like to get in touch, please send me an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Harald Boersman, Senior Manager Corporate Relations, Elsevier

From Bench to Desk with help from UKCSJ Scholarships


by Josh Howgego one of five students awarded scholarships to attend the Conference

This year the ABSW has awarded five scholarships for student members to attend the second UK Conference of Science Journalists, on 25th June. Alongside free admission, the students get a chance to report on all the sessions at the conference and hear from some of the best writers in the industry.

But are scholarships like this important, and who are the recipients of these awards?

Like several of the other students awarded a scholarship, I am a science PhD student who wants to make the transition from the lab bench to the (science) news desk. For me, the main reason why such awards and prizes are important is because getting into the media is a tough challenge, and any kind of recognition and encouragement helps.

The scholarships are also important because of the experience, exposure and potential for learning that attending the conference offers to fledgling journalists.

For example, I like the idea of trying out data journalism – looking at some data and trying to spot trends and patterns that could make a good story. As a scientist I'm no stranger to data, but when it comes to using it in journalism, I don't know where to start. How would I choose amongst all the data out there? How would I manipulate and present it?

So, the session on data journalism – along with other talks on essential skills – should be a useful training exercise for people like me. I hope to come away with new ideas and an understanding of some of the online tools to get me started.

But I'm a scientist, right? The reason I don't have the skills to do things like data journalism is because – well, that's not my job yet. Perhaps I should just stay a scientist and be happy that I get to do a very interesting job.

Well, maybe. Certainly I think there are scientists who see science writing as an easy option.

But in defence of scientists with healthy journalistic aspirations, a 2010 report commissioned by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills ('Science and the media: securing the future') recommended that more scientists should work in the general news media because they understand the subject matter better, and could improve the way science is reported across a broad range of publishing platforms.

More scientists working as professional journalists could have a positive impact on the way science is reported. These UKCSJ scholarships provide encouragement to those scientists who really want to enter the media.

The Student Scholarships are supported by The British Psychological Society


Covering Wicked Problems

In his keynote speech Jay Rosen will explore the concept of ‘Wicked problems’ in science journalism.   

“Wicked problems have these features; it is hard to say what the problem is, to define it clearly or to tell where it stops and starts." Said Rosen. "There is no "right" way to view the problem, no definitive formulation. The way it's framed will change what the solution appears to be.” 

Rosen thinks that from a scientific perspective, climate change is one of the biggest wicked problems facing us now: “Probably the best example in our time is climate change. What could be more inter-connected than it? Someone can always say that climate change is just a symptom of another problem--our entire way of life, perhaps — and he or she would not be wrong. We've certainly never solved anything like it before. Stakeholders: everyone on the planet, every nation, every company.”

When dealing with wicked problems the framing of the problem is crucial: “We would be better off if we knew when we were dealing with a wicked problem, as opposed to the regular kind. If we could designate some problems as wicked we might realize that "normal" approaches to problem-solving don't work.”

The challenge to journalists is to think and behave differently when reporting these stories: “Journalists who covered wicked problems differently than they covered normal problems would be smarter journalists.”

Rosen touches on the issue of 'Wicked Problems' here: