Who is this course for?

The Pitch and Polish science writing course is being provided to NSERC PermafrostNet members by Science Borealis, Canada’s premier digital science magazine.

I had never written for such a broad audience and I learned a lot about the writing and editing processes. Also it was awesome to be able to collaborate with professionals!

Previous trainee

What is the aim of this course?

The program will provide you with science communication tools and training to help you effectively share knowledge, communicate your research and convey information about the broader issues posed by permafrost to a variety of non-expert audiences through science writing. This course will enhance your skills in science writing and develop broader career skills.

The guidance was incredibly helpful. It made me pay a lot more attention to who my audience was and helped my piece be more accessible to the general public.

Previous trainee

When is it?

The program will run from 28 January to 11 April 2022.

Program description

In the Pitch & Polish Program trainees pitch their article ideas to the science writing mentor leading the program. Over the course of 10 weeks, the mentor helps the students refine their pitches and produce, polish, and publish their posts.

Trainees will receive feedback on their pitches as well as three rounds of one-on-one feedback on their submissions, and professional editing to ensure they can proudly add their post to their portfolio. The mentors are all seasoned, published science writers and editors who will set the bar high and ensure students successfully rise to the challenge.

Upon successful completion of the program, student posts will be submitted to the Managing Editor of the Borealis Blog. Science Borealis is the premier science blog site in Canada, featuring the Borealis blog while also being the largest aggregator of science blogs in Canada, syndicating over 130 member blogs covering topics from astronomy to zoology. Between January 1 and September 22, 2021, the Borealis Blog saw more than 330,000 unique page views from more than 260,000 users. Blog posts will be published within six months of completing the program.

I enjoyed the editing process: there was great communication back and forth between myself and the editor, which made me feel a lot more comfortable about the idea of publishing my writing.

Previous trainee

Program schedule

Week 1January 24

Group online session: meet the mentors and pitch instructions.

Week 2 – January 31

Students submit pitches to mentor. 

Week 3 – February 7

Mentor provides response to pitches. Students can request additional feedback.

Week 4 – February 14

Week 5 – February 21

Students submit first draft of article. Deadline: Friday 25 February.

Week 6 – February 28

Mentor provides feedback on first draft.

Week 7 – March 7-11

Mentor offers two drop-in “office hour” sessions where students can log in to discuss first draft feedback and any issues encountered in preparing second draft.

Week 8March 14

Students submit second draft of article, including 2-4 images with captions and attribution and text for social media posts. Deadline: Friday 18 March.

Week 9March 21

Mentor provides feedback on second draft.

Week 10 March 28

Students submit third draft of article. Deadline: Friday 1 April.

Week 11April 4

Mentor provides feedback on third draft,

Week 12April 11

Student & mentor finalize post with images (appropriate attribution and usage rights), any relevant social media usernames and hashtags, and related URLs. Deadline: Monday 11 April.


Applications for the program have now closed.

Who is delivering this course?

Monique Keiran

Monique Keiran

Science Communicator

Monique Keiran has been writing about and promoting science for more than 20 years. She has written about dinosaurs and other ancient critters for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, the birds and bees for Alberta Parks, all things forest-science related for the Canadian Forest Service, health policy for Alberta Health, and engineering and technology for Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia. She has written a weekly column – usually on science topics – for the Victoria Times Colonist since 2012. She took on the role of managing editor of the Science Borealis Blog in 2017.

Alice Fleerackers

Alice Fleerackers

Science Writer and Researcher

Alice Fleerackers is an award-winning researcher and freelance writer specializing in science and health communication. Since launching her writing career in 2014, she has worked with an array of clients, including book and magazine publishers, national newspapers, literary festivals, digital marketing agencies, and more. She is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD in science and health communication at Simon Fraser University, where she also teaches a science storytelling course. In addition, Alice supports a number of science communication nonprofits, including Science Borealis, Art the Science, the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, and the Public Communication of Science and Technology Network.

Catherine Dale

Catherine Dale

Science Communicator

Catherine Dale completed her PhD studying western bluebird migration in 2018, and now lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she is coordinating the Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas for Birds Canada. A self-professed bird nerd, she loves spending as much time as possible in the field. She is a strong believer in the importance of science communication, serving as managing editor for the blog Dispatches from the Field and volunteering as an editor for the Borealis Blog.

Pre-program preparation

  1. Join our “Training” Teams channel for access to chats, files, links and background reading materials.
  2. Introduce yourself! Why are you interested in science communication, or have you taken part in science communication before?
  3. Share social media handles (if you have them and are comfortable doing so).

Contact info

Tristan MacLean, Director of Operations, NSERC PermafrostNet, tristan.maclean@carleton.ca